The demands on a pastor’s time are great. So, naturally the challenges on the pastor’s marriage are equally great. Sometimes we plan poorly and over commit ourselves. Then, there are other times where seasonal church activities kick in and it is just a busy time. How can we care for our wives as pastors when our schedules demand we are gone from home more than normal? Maybe a better way to ask that question is, “How do I communicate a love for my wife when I am unable to be with her?” We can learn a great lesson from an unlikely source.
Charles Spurgeon was notorious for living a schedule that would kill most human beings. Because of this, we would assume that Spurgeon was a neglectful husband and father. But I would argue that Spurgeon, although away quite often, made regular faithful efforts to love and encourage his wife. If you read about their marriage the fruit of Spurgeon’s labor is reflected in the tender, sweet relationship they seemed to have throughout his ministry.
Spurgeon made it a common practice to write his wife a letter everyday that he was ever apart from her in travels. Mrs. Spurgeon mindful of the massive amounts of letters of which her husband daily needed to respond, suggested he take better use of his time and answer those letters instead of writing to her every day. Notice Spurgeon’s response:
“Every word I write,” he says in one note, “Is a pleasure to me, as much as ever it can be to you; it is only a lot of odds and ends I send you, but I put them down as they come, so that you may see it costs me no labor, but is just a happy scribble. Don’t fret because I write you so many letters; it is such a pleasure to tell out my joy.”
Spurgeon found a simple, creative, and yet effective way to love his wife in the midst of his many demands and travels. While away, he discovered the value of letting his wife know that he was thinking of her and wished he could be with her. This being before the cell phone, email, facebook age. This is a lesson pastors while in our busy seasons of ministry must learn. Here are a few suggestions in the spirit of Spurgeon’s example:
- Write an email during the day or leave a hand written note for her early in the morning before you leave saying how much you love and appreciate her.
- Make a random phone call during the day with no agenda except to let her know that you were thinking of her and missed her.
- Remind her in some way how grateful you are that she so faithfully cares for your home and children while you are busy with ministry responsibilities.
- When the busyness lightens, plan a time for her to get out and get a break while you watch the kids.
No one should follow Spurgeon’s travel or ministry schedule unless they have a death wish, but his efforts to care for his wife while gone should be noted and celebrated. Do not forget, if we are not deliberate, consistent, and faithful to communicate a love and care for our wives while at home, they will not receive our best efforts when we are gone. Trust me, while away from home is a painful time to learn that lesson.