Archives For Pastors’ Wives

Your pastor prays for you. His God-given duty, after all, is to “keep watch over your soul” (Heb. 13:17). But unless you’re a rare individual, you don’t pray for your pastor as much as you should. I want to convince you that your pastor desperately needs you to pray for him consistently.

A major factor in your pastor’s need for prayer is the simple reality that he is a human being. He is tempted, as we all are. He sins, as we all do. He is targeted by spiritual warfare. Because he is a human being seeking to live a godly life, he needs prayer and support.

But there are other reasons for his need for prayer related to his unique role as a pastor. I want to explore three of those below:

 

  1. YOU EXPECT YOUR PASTOR TO SPEAK FOR GOD.

All of us desperately need to know what God thinks about all of the issues we face in life. We need to hear from God—regularly, insightfully, passionately.

So put yourself in your pastor’s shoes here. Week after week, you gather with other believers to hear a word from God. And your pastor is the one who will deliver God’s word to you. His job is to stand before you on a regular basis and declare, “Thus says the Lord.” Much of the Spirit’s conviction in your life will come from words your pastor speaks. Many of your beliefs about the nature of God or how God wants you to behave in a given situation will originate in your pastor’s sermon prep.

Your pastor speaks to you on God’s behalf. He feels the weight of that burden. Make sure you’re praying for him. Pray that God will speak to him. Pray that he will listen. Pray that God will empower him as he takes on the formidable role of a modern day prophet.

Francis Chan Preaching

 

  1. YOU EXPECT YOUR PASTOR TO SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS.

Perhaps this sounds overdramatic. But when something goes wrong in your life, who are you turning to for help? When you’re struggling with sin, when you can’t navigate a dysfunctional relationship, when you’ve experienced loss, when you’re depressed, when you need some guidance—who is it that you turn to in these situations? If you’re like most Christians, you’ll turn to your pastor to help you solve your problems.

That’s as it should be, to a certain extent. Your pastor does indeed keep watch over your soul; he is there to help you grow. But once again, consider it from your pastor’s perspective. What if you were the last line of defense (and often also the first) with every major issue anyone in your congregation could possibly encounter? That’s an enormous burden to bear. And an impossible schedule to maintain. (Even if your church has multiple pastors, that means your church has more people to care for.) Be sure to pray for your pastor in this regard. Ask God to give him wisdom, patience, and endurance.

 

 

  1. YOU EXPECT YOUR PASTOR TO THINK & ACT LIKE YOU IN EVERYTHING.

You’re not offended by everything your pastor says, but let’s be honest: there are a good handful of topics over which you would be horrified to hear your pastor disagree with you. What if your pastor preached a sermon that gave a differing view on the end times, or on speaking in tongues, or on the proper use of alcohol, or on the way Christians should relate to politics, culture, homeschooling, workplace evangelism, infant or adult baptism, or whatever? The list of issues upon which Christians disagree is almost literally endless.

You might not be upset about every theological point your pastor makes, but someone is likely to be. Consider it from your pastor’s perspective: It’s impossible to preach on the end times, hell, the role of obedience in the life of the Christian, or spiritual gifts without offending someone. You can imagine the weight that this places on his shoulders every week.

Pastors face constant criticism. Their lives are lived in a fishbowl, with everyone analyzing what the pastor and his family do (and don’t do). Not only that, but he also has to present his (well-studied) views on controversial topics to a large roomful of people every week. Can you imagine the pressure? So don’t forget to pray for him. Be gracious to him when he “gets it wrong” theologically, and don’t forget to pray that God would give him grace, patience, and encouragement as he has big and small conversations week after week with people who are angry about something he said.

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You may love your pastor deeply. Or you might have a real problem with him (for good or bad reasons). But either way, be sure that you are praying for him. He has devoted his life to speaking for God and ministering to your soul. That’s an impossible job. Keep praying that God will encourage, shape, and empower your pastor. And please heed these words from Hebrews:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (13:17)

This is a weird post for me to write. I don’t presume to know anything about pastors’ wives. Or about women, for that matter. I am not a pastor, so there are many things I’ll never know about a pastor’s wife. But on the other hand, my detachment from the situation gives me an advantage. On a regular basis, every pastor has to make a choice between standing up for his wife or biting his tongue. So let me, as an outsider, share some of the concerns that many of my pastor friends have with regard to the way their wives are viewed.

Churches aren’t fair to the wives of their pastors. For one thing, the pastor, his wife, and their children live in a fishbowl. Everyone looks in and watches everything they do. There is a healthy side to this. We should consider the way our leaders conduct themselves (Heb. 13:7). But more often than not, we do this critically and with a spirit of judgment. I have heard of pastors’ wives being criticized for their hair being too shiny, their hair not being shiny enough, and for sitting down while ironing. And I’m not joking or exaggerating any of those.

When people are in sin, we have a biblical responsibility to confront them (see Matt. 18). But when it comes to preference issues (i.e., issues not clearly defined in the Bible), then our judgmental spirit means that we are in sin. So if you don’t like the type of nail polish your pastor’s wife wears, then feel free to choose a different color for yourself. But don’t flaunt your pride by gossiping about hers.

The other major concern I have about the way we view pastors’ wives is the assumption that she has to be the women’s ministry director. Or the children’s ministry director. Or at least be a major player in the ministries of your church. When a new pastor is hired, many churches see it as a two-for-the-price-of-one kind of a thing. We’re getting two pastors here, but we only have to pay the salary of one, and we have every right to complain if the pastor’s wife isn’t spearheading at least a couple of major programs in our church.

Many pastors’ wives are gifted, willing, and effective in leading all sorts of ministries in the church. But to simply assume that the pastor’s wife is gifted to lead a ministry because she married a pastor is extremely wrongheaded. It ignores Paul’s description of spiritual gifting in 1 Corinthians 12. The fact of the matter is that every member of the body has been given gifts by God. And each person’s gifts differ from those of others. The Spirit distributes these according to His will (1 Cor. 12:11), not according to our desires or expectations.

Believe it or not, God sometimes allows people with pastoral gifts to marry people who have other gifts. This means that demanding your pastor’s wife to lead a specific ministry is presumptive at best, and at worst it is dangerous to her and to the life of your church.

I’m not saying that we need to treat pastors’ wives as angels or let them run around with a sense of entitlement and never confront them. I’m sure that your pastor’s wife is weird in at least 100 ways. I’m sure that she does things differently than you expect her to and differently than you would do them yourself. But that’s okay. She is who God made her to be. She has struggles and blindspots just like you do. So let’s give her grace. Let’s expect her to be an essential member of your church body, but let’s not expect her to have the same gifts as her husband or as the previous pastor’s wife. Let’s love her and encourage her rather than suspecting her and slandering her.