Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pastor's Wife

I have grown up in the church and have sat under quite a few pastor's ministries. Each pastor was unique. Some were loud when they preached, others were more quiet. Some were hell-fire-and-brimstone style preachers, others were teachers.Some were quite sociable and others were more business-like. Each one was different. The Word speaks quite a bit about the qualifications of a pastor, but when it comes to his wife, there is very little to say, so in honor of all of my sister pastor's wives out there I thought I would share what the Word has to say about the qualifications of a pastor's wife and my own thoughts as well.

First Timothy 3:11 tells us this:
“In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.”
That’s it. It doesn’t say she should bring a pie to every church gathering or attend every baby shower. It doesn’t say she should teach Sunday school for 40 years or sing solos every Sunday. It doesn’t say she should serve in every ministry the church offers or be in attendance at every event. It doesn’t even mention how she should style her hair or how she should dress. It doesn't say she has to fill in if her husband is sick, or preach a sermon, or lead a Bible study. It doesn't say anything like that. It doesn't say she has to know every answer to every Bible question that is posed to her. It doesn't say she has to be the perfect mother. It doesn't say she has to entertain or be available every time someone calls.

Only four qualifications are given for the role of pastor's wife:

1.    Worthy of respect
2.    Kind and honest talker
3.    Temperate
4.    Trustworthy

That's it! I have heard from young women who are just entering the ministry with their husbands; who are trying to live up to some preconceived notion of what the role of a pastor's wife actually is and they're miserable. Sometimes they themselves have put the bar so high that no one could attain it. Sometimes they hear from their congregations that "the last pastor's wife did it this way and well we liked it that way" and little statements like that can really hurt if the young woman doesn't know what God expects her to be as a pastor's wife.

God expects a pastor's wife to be worthy of respect, kind, honest, temperate and trustworthy. He also expects her to love Him and keep Him as number one in her life. That is the most important thing that I think we all could learn, whether we are in the ministry or not: keep God first, please Him first and don't worry about the rest. No matter how small or large the church is that God calls us to, we can never please everyone all the time. So we have to concentrate on pleasing God and He will take care of the rest.

Having been in the ministry not only as a pastor's wife but as a co-pastor with my husband I can tell you this from experience: I believe that the most important ministry that a pastor's wife must do is to support and encourage her husband. I once heard a story told of several pastors' wives who had met at a conference. They were all sitting around a table talking when the subject of the recent marriage of a well known evangelist came up. The women were all speculating on what the new bride would look like.

 One said, 'he's very handsome so I imagine she will be a beauty.' Another surmissed that she would be 'talented for sure so she could compliment his ministry'. Another said that 'she must be very learned in Biblical knowledge because she attracted such a well known preacher.' They were all so excited to meet this new bride that they didn't even try to conceal their shock when the bride in question was brought to their table by her husband and introduced.

This was no raving beauty! She had mousy brown hair and it wasn't even styled in the lastest style! Her clothes were plain, certainly not befitting her husband's position. She was shy and stood behind her husband as much as possible, certainly not a woman of confidence. All of the women were feeling pity for the young evangelist that he had chosen a wife so poorly suited to his needs. When the new bride sat down and her husband left the women began to grill her: 'do you play the piano?' 'no', 'do you sing solos?' 'no', 'do you preach or teach?', 'no' and on and on the questions went until one of the women grew frustrated and blurted out: 'well what DO you do?' and the little bride answered 'I pray for my husband'.

Each of the pastors' wives who were sitting there that day were humbled and shamed by her honest response. They each asked her forgiveness for so harshly prejudging her and over the years they each changed their concept of the role of a pastor's wife too.

If we each, whether we are pastor's wives or not, understand that the primary role of a pastor's wife is to pray for and encourage her husband, we would save a lot of heartache. God has called each of us to different ministries, some of us are more involved than others but that doesn't make us a better pastor's wife than the next person. The Word tells us the qualifications of a pastor's wife and as with anything else we will do good to adhere to that. We get ourselves in trouble when we add to or take away from the Word.

If you are a pastor's wife right now, or if you are going to be someday, please don't compare yourself to anyone else. You are a unique gift from God to your husband. One chosen by God to compliment his ministry and support him through prayer and encouragement. Only you can be you. If you are sitting in the congregation comparing your pastor's wife unfavourably with another pastor's wife, please stop. Your pastor's wife is one of a kind, she is unique and she is a gift from God to you. Pray for her and support her.

1 comment

  1. This is so 'right on'! I remember the folks, in the day, say I dressed like a 'Hippie'! I was modest, but not their expectations. How many nails in the parsonage wall for pictures to how my children were disciplined. It's not a calling for the weak. I love your words and your insight. Thank you for sharing them!