Out of all the jobs out there, being a pastor’s wife is among the hardest. Yes, being a pastor is hard, but being married to a pastor is perhaps even harder. Many a pastor’s wife has told her husband, “I’ve had enough! I can’t do this anymore.”
Pastor’s wives need the ministry of the whole body of Christ, including that of their husband’s. On any given week, the pastor finds himself ministering to many people. Amid a busy ministry schedule, the pastor must not forget his most important ministry: his family (1 Timothy 3:4-5) and his wife.
This article will look at six specific ways a pastor can serve his primary partner in ministry – his wife.
1. Read the Bible and pray together
Your wife will be the first to notice when you treat pastoral ministry as just another job or a profession. She should see that you desire God and delight in doing His will. She should see that you love God’s word. She should see your growth in grace and godliness (2 Peter 3:18).
A pastor friend of mine and his wife typically spend two hours together in Scripture and prayer each morning. For the vast majority of us, that is not possible. Let me challenge you to set aside time each day for this important exercise.
My wife and I try to spend at least a half hour in the Word first thing in the morning. We are not reading the same Scriptures, but most of the time, we talk about what we are learning. We close these morning devotional times in prayer.
You don’t have to limit this to Bible reading and prayer. Read a devotional book together. Listen to a sermon together. Pray before you go to bed. Whatever the case, it is important and healthy for couples to spend time together seeking God.
Take the lead in this, pastor. Pursue God wholeheartedly (Psalm 63:1) and lead your wife to do the same.
2. Confess your sin
Married couples sin against one another. That statement comes as no surprise to you. The pastor and his wife are not exempt from this universal reality.
One of the best ways for a pastor to minister to his wife is by being humble and fessing up when he is wrong. When you spill something in the kitchen, apologize and pick it up. When you come home late from work and don’t mention anything, apologize. When you get angry and use a cutting word to slander your wife, apologize quickly.
The Bible says, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). A big part of humility is admitting when you are wrong, and confessing your sin as needed (James 5:16, 1 John 1:9).
More than likely, the person you will sin against more than anyone else is your dear wife. If you’ve had a fight, don’t wait for her to apologize first. Humble yourself, take the initiative to confess your sin, and seek reconciliation.
3. Pursue her daily
Your wife is a special person for all kinds of reasons. She is a blessing to you and everyone around her. Take a special interest in her. Don’t let the craziness of ministry keep you from pursuing the most important person (save Jesus) in your life.
Pursuing your wife is simple. It involves a lot of listening, talking, and laughing together. Yes, you need to pursue her sexually (1 Corinthians 7:1-5), but remember that marriage is more than what goes on in the bedroom.
Find ways to do fun things together. A monthly date night, a weekly game night, or a movie night are a few ideas to that end. Remember – your wife needs a husband, not just a pastor.
4. Don’t lecture
Be careful you are not always finding fault with your wife. You see her flaws and shortcomings as her husband, spiritual or not. Don’t be so quick to point out every fault and sin you find in her.
Pastors should heed the words of Jesus. We should be more concerned with taking the log out of our own eye than taking the speck out of our wife’s (Matthew 7:1-5).
Listen to her without always trying to fix her. If she has a question or concern about you, try to listen without being defensive. If you have a problem with her, let your words be gracious and gentle, not condemning (Colossians 4:6).
5. Don’t schedule meetings more than three nights a week
I get it. Ministry is demanding and intense. But most pastors have a lot of discretionary time on their hands. Sometimes the solution is not working harder and longer hours; it’s finding a way to be more efficient.
I caution you against having appointments and meetings more than three nights a week (including evening services). Over the long haul, that pace is neither healthy nor sustainable. If you can schedule something during the day rather than an evening, that is preferable.
As much as possible, give your evenings to your families. Set aside time to minister to the needs of your wife. You won’t regret it.
6. Don’t share everything with her
Pastors are privy to a lot of information. Except for fellow pastors and elders, they will know more about the people of the church than anyone else. Be careful what you share with your wife.
There will be church things you do share, but she doesn’t need to know everything. As one Proverb puts it, “A prudent man conceals knowledge” (Proverbs 12:23). The more your wife knows, particularly when it comes to the “heavy” stuff, the more of a burden it will be. Ask God for wisdom to know what is appropriate to share and what is not (James 1:5).
Striving for the reward
Though being a pastor’s wife is a uniquely challenging calling, it is also immensely rewarding. Pastor, by finding ways to minister to your wife, you can help her realize some of that blessing. Whether you like it or not, how you love your wife will be an example to your church, good or bad.
Pastoral ministry is a high, holy calling under God (1 Peter 5:1-4). If we persevere, in due time, there will be a reward (Galatians 6:9).
Always strive to put Christ at the center of your marriage. Pray like crazy for her. Continually let your wife know that both you and God love her deeply. And never forget that you are married to her, not the church.