This is a hard post to write, but I am trusting the Lord will use it to strengthen the marriages of pastors. This has been a tough year. Some painful realizations about my own life and heart have given me pause. Because of this, I’m sure your mind is racing with what I might say to answer this question. There are so many mistakes a pastor can make that affects his wife. I have made a lot of them. Did I share too much information with her? Did I ask her to do too much at the church? Did I take my frustrations about the church out on her? Did I blame her for a bad decision I made? Make no mistake, I have done each of these and plenty more. Yet, I have come to realize one of my most painful mistakes was different than these. This one was more subtle and it has slowly crushed my wife for years. It is even in the last year after seventeen years of marriage (all in ministry) where I have really begun to see how I have done this. Here it is:
“I have listen to my wife’s concerns, but have failed to listen to her voice.”
Let me explain. My wife has a lot of wisdom. She has saved me from some really dumb mistakes and decisions. I listen to my wife’s concerns as she often times has an intuition and perspective that I did not have that proved very valuable. However, just because I have listened to her concerns about my ministry throughout the years, doesn’t mean I have listened to her voice. Especially in the last year, I have been confronted with ways I have crushed my wife in not hearing her voice and was completely blinded to it. A painful reality about my marriage is the fact that I have contributed to some of my wife’s painful struggles through the years. Many times, I was not hearing her when my schedule was too busy; not hearing her when I made decisions for our family without her; not hearing her voice when she tried to tell me she was hurting.
This is a good time for you to know our newest book, The Pastor’s Family, is not evidence at all that we have figured all this out, but that we are in the middle of it seeking God’s grace to grow and learn. My freshly discovered failures in this area are reminders of how far I still have to go and how much I still have to learn. But I have learned this: Pastors, your wife is a great gift from God not just to your ministry, but to your personal spiritual growth. It will be painful, but God will use your wife to make you a more faithful pastor, husband, father, and follower of Jesus. But will you allow it? I urge you to ask God to use her in that way realizing you can hear your wife’s wisdom and concerns about your ministry, utilize her gifts and abilities, but still miss her voice in the process.