While at the Southern Baptist Convention a few weeks ago, I was able to fellowship with a young couple whom our church sent out into ministry to pastor a small church in a rural southern community. They are such sweet friends and co-labors in the gospel and it was a joy to hear of how the Lord is using not just this brother to pastor this church, but the faithfulness of his wife.
I have often said as hard as it is to be the new pastor, there is still one position more difficult to be in–the new pastor’s wife. When times get hard and conflict against you rises up, at least you as the pastor can defend yourself–she cannot defend you. When difficult church members unnecessarily criticize your preaching, at least you can explain yourself, but your wife cannot. Those who are wondering why the wife cannot speak up and defend her husband to others, should just ask a pastor whose wife has done so in the first 6 months and hear what are the typical ramifications.
She must sit back. Pray. Support and encourage her husband. Try and love those who are causing her husband trouble. Then, add to the stress of a pastor’s wife trying to fit in to the already formed groups of ladies who are very hesitant to allow any outsiders in, especially the pastor’s wife, and in the south. As you can see, this is a most difficult and challenging situation for a young, new pastor’s wife and one that only other pastors’ wives can relate.
Therefore, there is all kinds of important advice that could be submitted. Out of them all, here is what I chose to give to this new pastor’s wife as most important:
Find another seasoned pastor’s wife to call to share openly, seek counsel, and be prayed for every week.
In the same way only a pastor knows what it is like to be a pastor, so too only a pastor’s wife can know the pressures and stresses she faces. Here is a bit of criteria to look for in that seasoned pastor’s wife:
1) She needs to have at least a few years of ministry under her belt.
2) She needs to be someone who understands her role to pray, support, and not defend her husband to others.
3) She needs to be someone who will give “proper perspective” for the grind of ministry.
4) She needs to be someone who will confront sinful feelings and desires in the pastor’s wife towards others and not fuel the fire of bitterness and unforgiveness.
5) She needs to be someone who knows how to encourage with longevity in mind.
6) She needs to be someone who will commit to pray on the phone with her (or physically with her if local) and throughout the week for her.
If you are a pastor (especially a Senior Pastor), help your wife find someone who knows what it is like to be in this lonely, pressure-filled, and unique position. It will do nothing but serve you and give your wife the proper perspective she needs to sort through all that happens in the church and in your lives.