Today I want to share a letter with you that one of our Advisory Team members wrote to a new pastor’s wife that was joining their ministry team at their church. I believe we can all glean something from this letter no matter how long we have been in ministry. You may also be able to use this in your own journey when you have a new pastors’ wife joining your church. Enjoy!
“I rejoice with you as you prepare to become a pastor’s wife. I am especially excited for you to join my tribe – pastors’ wives! Some people may find the position of pastor’s/minister’s wife as ominous or something to be feared. I, however, have nothing but encouragement for you as you enter this new role. It is my joy to share with you a few things I believe are important to know as the wife of a man that serves God in a full time Christian vocation.
Whatever God calls our husbands to do professionally, it is our role as his wife to be his best cheerleader! I love being the one that gets to tell my husband in detail each week how God used him to challenge me personally. I realize that my words of affirmation are far more important than the words of any other church member. He wants to know from me if what he said and how he delivered the message was effective. Please take your role as “most important church member” very seriously and make a conscious effort to speak words of encouragement to your man after every service or ministry effort.
There will be times that your husband will need your constructive criticism. I recommend working on your words of affirmation first. Then, as you grow more comfortable with how to encourage him with an occasional suggestion, let him tell you how and when he wants to hear your thoughts on how to improve his delivery or ministry effort.
There will be people in your churches that feel like it is their place to continually correct and admonish your man. Some will do it with love and God will use them to sharpen him. Others, however, may be hateful or just careless in how they express their opinions about your husband’s ministry. These can be painful experiences. I have found that eventually it does get easier to hear the criticism of others. God often gives the man the strength to receive this type of hardship and it seems that as the wife we find it more difficult.
Once again, remember to encourage your man when he shares painful things with you. It is fine for you to “take up his offense” in your kitchen a she shares. It is not, however, acceptable for you to “take up an offense” for him publically. Let him handle it! It is never appropriate for the minister’s wife to say anything negative (or sarcastic or corrective, etc – no matter how much we may want) to a church member in a business meeting. I Peter 2:22-23 has served to help me many times in these circumstances. The example of Christ under persecution is such a helpful reminder of how we are to act when others “hurl their insults” at our husbands.
‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at Him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.’
Having said that, it is important not to let any church member come to you with a concern about the pastor or church. If someone has the gall to do this, you can simply say, “Please feel free to call the church office and get an appointment with the pastor.” But say this with a smile and sweet demeanor, of course. Don’t ever speak for your husband; let him speak for himself and fight his own battles. Walk in the freedom of knowing that you are not the associate pastor.
Some pastors’ wives find themselves struggling with the issue of resentment or bitterness. Let me encourage you to fight hard against the temptation to fall into this trap! A bitter pastor’s wife is not a good partner for the pastor. Decide here at the beginning of your marriage to release your man to minister whenever he must. Sometimes that is at odd hours and times when you thought he would be home. Release him to go and encourage him to do so when needed. It is certainly understandable for you to voice any concern you may have if he begins to err on the side of being gone from home too much. It is acceptable for you to share your heart in the right time and in the right way. But go into this marriage with the understanding that ministry is not a “9 to 5” job and that he may work long and hard hours. Support him to that end. Make his time at home enjoyable by not nagging him about his hours away.
There is one thing that your husband really needs that only you can deliver. Any woman can feed him, or even wash his clothes. Others can file his notes and take his phone messages. But only you can satisfy him in the marriage bed. Let me admonish you to take this important role very seriously – not only at first as a newlywed, but until you are old. As he ministers to people, some will be women. It is important that your man is sexually satisfied and has no room for temptation. Because ministry is often very stressful, it is good to remember that the sexual act can also be a wonderful stress reliever for him. Take joy in this important position that only you have in his life! He’ll love you more for it!
Let me encourage you to continually feed yourself spiritually. Just because you are around church all the time doesn’t mean your own walk with Christ will stay strong. BE intentional to stay in the Word and find ways to keep your own walk with Christ fresh and daily. As you do this, God may lay on your heart specific ways He wants to use you and your many gifts to further His Kingdom. I love sharing in my husband’s ministry by also ministering to the people in our flock. He is blessed and his ministry extended by how God uses me in the areas that He calls me to serve.
I know you can be a wonderful pastor’s wife! I am so excited to see how you will grow in this new role. When you need prayer, advice or just a shoulder or ear, please don’t hesitate to call me or any of the other staff wives here at church. I would consider it such an honor to help you navigate this wonderful world of church ministry! I hope you will love it as much as I do!”
Much love and Excitement,
I pray what Suzy shared will bless you as you continue to serve and love your husband!
Photo courtesy Flickr user Andrew Hurley via the Creative Commons license.