How much should pastors/elders share with their wives?

 I wish there was a simple formula to apply to this question.  Unfortunately, there is not.  Every wife is different.  Every wife needs to be protected and led through the hurts, sins, and confidential details of the lives of our people depending on their spiritual maturity and disposition.  It is also generally wise to keep the circle of involvement outside the pastors as small as possible.  Having said that, here are a few principles to apply as you evaluate your wife’s ability to handle the difficult issues, yet still allowing her to add some much needed discernment and female perspective to them.

Remember your wife is your helpmate, not your co-elder.  All pastors know soliciting a wife’s input is very profitable in many cases.  It is also good for wives to know certain needs among the congregation so they understand why you are needed at this home or that elders meeting that may come at an inconvenient time.  However, if certain information will tempt your wife to sin either through gossip, anger, bitterness, or withholding care of church members, it is better to err on the safe side.  Remember, your wife is your helpmate, not your co-elder.  These burdens are yours to carry as a pastor.  Have a good, helpful reason to involve her in those burdens.

Acknowledge and agree as pastors what should not be shared with wives.  Don’t make assumptions in regard to what should not be discussed with wives.  Make sure as the pastor/elder(s) meetings proceed, highlight clearly to one another when the details of a situation are to remain within those walls (i.e., not to be discussed with anyone including wives).  Overlooking this logistic of verbal agreement in the moment of discussion can lead to some unfortunate and uncomfortable moments.  Here is another place to err on the safe side.

My hope is that this template will lead to discerning decisions among those pastors/elders you serve along side in your local church on how to find this all-important balance.  It is a difficult balance, but one that must be pursued and captured for the sake of your marriage and flock.  Are there any other insights you would like to share that you have found helpful as you have tried to find this balance?

Posted in Home and Family, Oversight of Souls
8 comments on “How much should pastors/elders share with their wives?
  1. PD says:

    Very VERY good question and great advice around this topic. This is definitely a question I faced very early as an elder and one that we’ve had to work through as an elder team and in our own marriage. It’s very difficult to discern what not to share given the fact that the marriage is supposed to be one of the most intimate relationships on earth. But yes, men were designed to bear certain burdens that women weren’t. It’s not chauvinism, it’s protection and care. Thanks, Brian!

  2. Thanks for this post, Brian. I’ve found, over the years, that it is far better to protect my wife from more than to simply let her know everything that’s going on. There are times when I need her input, especially if we’re dealing with another woman from the church (physical needs, spiritual needs, emotional needs). She can give us men (who are nearly clueless at times) a very godly perspective.

    I used to share more with her, but found it to be burdensome to her. She always had good insight, but that was outweighed by the knowledge that she bore needlessly.

    However, the one thing that comes to bear in this for us is I pastor a small church (about 80 wonderful people) and like most small “families”, you know just an large amount about most people. There have been times when she knows things before I do, so then I listen to her, thank her and ask her to let the elders then deal with it… which is as it should be.

  3. There is wise counsel in your blog today, Brian . I encourage everyone to carefully consider your words: “Every wife needs to be protected and led through the hurts, sins, and confidential details of the lives of our people depending on their spiritual maturity and disposition.” I want my wife to be as free as possible to interact with members of the congregation, devoid of prejudice. I often share issues with my wife but at the same time I often seek to protect her mind.

  4. A. Thornton says:

    Please do not assume that keeping information from your wife is what will protect her.
    Phil. 4:7

    She probably already knows more than most people, and if left with just a few pieces of information, is it not also a temptation to just assume the worst?
    I can see keeping things causing more harm than sharing.

  5. Tom says:

    So how do you think this plays into the idea that we are to be transparent with our wives? I hear the gamut, everything from, “I share *everything* with my wife,” to, “I don’t share anything with my wife if it’s from a counseling section.”

    I wonder how this applies to concept of “being naked” (figuratively, of course!) before our spouses. It almost sounds like you are saying the rule of thumb is sharing on a need-to-know basis (or, rather, need-to-know-your-input basis).

    I understand the protection argument, but is their a risk in not sharing, in not being transparent?

    Tom

    • briancroft says:

      Good question. I think there is both a risk in sharing and not sharing, depending on the wife and issue at hand. That is why a pastoral discernment with your particular wife is essential to know which is the greater risk. Again, it is a balance that should be achieved that will look different for each marriage. Thanks for writing.

  6. Karin says:

    A confidential counseling session with my pastor should be exactly that – confidential. Never once did I ask my husband, the pastor, later the professor, to share what with me confidential issues and needs of the people to whom he ministered. Conversely in my role as pastoral care assistant in a long-term care centre, I do not bring to him anything that is said in confidence to me at work. We trust each other to keep confidences of family, friends, and others. Violating that would have violated our integrity. I’ve seen untold damage done by pastors who shared everything with their wives.

  7. Pastor Mike says:

    Good insight in this blog. Personally, I share as little as possible with my wife, simple because, as you said, it’s my burden to carry. As we all know, some of the things we deal with in the church are and can be very messy situations. The smaller the group that knows these things, the better. I’m very careful with her because once it’s been said, it can’t be “unsaid”. There have been some very late nights involving elders meetings, issues and situations, and she understands that there are issues that I cannot share.

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  2. [...] unfortunate and uncomfortable moments.  Here is another place to err on the safe side. via practicalshepherding.com Leave a Comment LikeBe the first to like this post.Leave a Comment [...]

  3. [...] Good insight for elders and all shepherds both men and women. [...]

  4. [...] Croft on How much a pastor/elder should share with his wife. This is a dicey call and one that is helpful to have some input on for a variety of [...]

  5. [...] my additional thoughts on the subject, check out an earlier blog post where I gave some basic rules to follow in considering this issue.  The post was How much should [...]

  6. [...] How much should pastors/elders share with their wives? | Practical …Feb 21, 2011 … I wish there was a simple formula to apply to this question. Unfortunately, there is not. Every wife is different. Every wife needs to be protected … Get the RSS Feed August 31, 2012 at 8:27 pm by admin | Category: Uncategorized | [...]

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