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?