Spring brings new beginnings-and so we begin a new series, "Questions for Pastors' Wives."
We've all wished at times we could sit down with another wife to discuss a tough issue, or find out how someone else handled a situation we've never encountered before. Even better, imagine the chance of being in a room with six godly, wise women, and they're ready and willing to talk about their experiences in supporting their pastor husband!
Well, we've asked a number of you to respond to a few questions that we will cover during the next twelve months---and we've gotten great responses back! Hopefully, you will find these discussions helpful and relevant to your busy life.
It seemed to me that the advice the wives offered for April's question could be categorized into five "top tips." I hope you find in this "combined wisdom" help and encouragement in all you do for the Lord Jesus and His kingdom.
In Christ's service,
Advice for a New Pastor's Wife
Suppose there is a woman whose husband was appointed to be an elder last Sunday morning. What advice would you give her in her role as a pastor's wife?
Tip #1.) You are not the elder-he is.
I would remind her that she was not appointed. Her fundamental job description has not changed. Her priorities are the same as they were before - her God first, her husband, then her family and home, followed by the church and the lost.
When Christians might tend now to bend her ear, to ask her a question to pass on to her husband, she needs to hold her tongue and say, "I don't know. You should probably talk to my husband." And if she does this, the questions and counsel will fade. And then people will recognize that they need to talk to her husband and she won't have to be an intermediary.
Many times church members assume that because you are a pastor's wife, you know EVERYTHING that there is to know about church planning and events, and that you have very nearly met the requirements for being a pastor yourself! I have often resorted to this humorous line when asked a question that I either honestly don't know, or feel I shouldn't be put in the position to answer: "I don't know, I'm just the pastor's wife!"
We as wives can slowly become co-pastors with our husbands and that takes a lot of energy away from us both. I choose to take that energy (and so does Pat) and spend it on us--as a couple! Pat has other men in his life to lead and share burdens with--others called by God and other godly men.
1. Be humble. Learn from the other pastor's wives. If it's multi-staff, find a wife with whom you resonate, and ask her to mentor you.
2. Be very humble. Becoming an elder's wife does not mean you have arrived. People put you up on pedestals. I tell them, "Get me off that pedestal, right now!" Be humble, be authentic, be open, and be real.
3. You are the wife; your husband is the elder. Tell people that.
Tip #2.) You are his helpmate-he needs you.
God daily gives me opportunities to do good for Dave, whether it's something "small" like washing his clothes or preparing him a meal, or something "large" like helping conduct a seminar. I often ask Dave, "How can I help you today? Is there something you want me to do?" Not only should I eagerly ask this question, I should be ready to do what he asks.
What he appreciates more than anything is my listening ear. I like to view myself as his supportive sounding board, not so much to give answers, but rather to give reflective feedback that helps him in formulating his own solutions before the Lord.
As your husband sees your faith, that you are believing God to really work in the problems and burdens of the church (without trying to "relieve" him or fix the people or problems), it will help him put his eyes on the Lord and His promises.
The best way to help a leader is to be a good follower. As others see you eagerly following his leadership, it will affect their view of his leadership.
Tip #3.) Your contentment brings him joy and blessings.
One of the best ways we can help our husbands is to not only free them up by managing our homes and families well, but by being content. If we're unhappy with the time we have together or money or things or whatever, it puts pressure and strain on them to "please their wives." Go to God with these needs, knowing that He can change your husband or meet needs some other way, or the Lord may choose to satisfy you in your present circumstances.
I would remind her also, that her husband may shield her from 90% of his conversations and she should not feel left out or overlooked. But that he is only protecting her.
Tip #4.) Meet the challenges in your new role with faith.
Pray for them [husband] more than for anyone else. I've enjoyed having a list of prayer needs laminated above my kitchen sink. Then I can just look at one item and be praying it throughout the day. When we pray for them and all that concerns them, we're able to enter into the joy of what God does for and through them. Regularly say things to the children like, "Isn't it wonderful daddy can be helping those people tonight to love the Lord more?" With them, in prayer, thank God for him and ask God to bless his work.
As Oswald Chambers once wrote, "God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede." Learn to quickly give those problems and "insights" of people's needs to God and not carry them yourself to fret over. End your conversations in prayer.
I would remind her that her husband has demonstrated an ability to manage his own family - and that she can be secure in that.
After I married Jonathan in 2004, I then felt the old, comfortable position had completely changed and I was now a "new member" of Grace Community Church - a once familiar church became very unfamiliar as I was now seeing things from a very different perspective. It was unusual, uncomfortable, exciting and very much a time of being re-defined and refined. I no longer seemed to fit into the role that I once held in the church and was now, all of a sudden, in a "new" role as "pastor's wife." It took some time for me to feel settled... I had to ask God for His grace, wisdom, blessings and most of all, for His direction, which included a smoothing of my very rough edges. God does indeed give to those in need (and I was in need). God also does stretch us into the role that He destined for us. He will sometimes move us gently and other times push us right in so that we can have a strong impact for His ministry through our husband's life.
Tip #5.) Intimacy is a priority in your marriage.
As a pastor's wife, I have the privilege of meeting my man's most intimate needs emotionally and physically. Regardless of the demands of family and household, Dave is my number one priority. Proverbs 31:12 has been a tremendous verse for gauging what I am giving myself to. "She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."
My first thought is, you did not marry The Pastor. You married a man who made your heart skip a beat. Remember to take time to play and romance that pastor! It truly is a forgotten art. I am called to "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth-for your love is more delightful than wine!" (Song of Songs 1:2) I truly believe this is a part of living out the gospel. It will bring much glory to God when our heart beats for our spouse, if we truly are a picture of Christ and His bride, the church. Let him pastor the church and let him be your heartbeat! Have fun and enjoy one another to the fullest! Pat and I run away often (short trips) and don't talk about the church or children, to always keep our fire burning. I truly think this makes a healthy pastor and pastor's wife! He is my lover, and by vocation, a pastor.
And some wise additional advice that I appreciated about relationships within the pastors' wives community:
And assuming that I am her sister in that same church, I would work to make sure that the two of us had a good relationship, a growing friendship, and that the lines of communication were always open between us. I would remind her again that if either of us had questions or needed any counsel or support from each other, we should not hesitate to call. I would work to get to know her even better and look for opportunities to help her and serve her and pray for her. And I would adopt her as a "daughter," since she probably is younger than I.
Thank you, dear sisters in the Lord, for your encouraging words of guidance not just for new pastors' wives, but also for our whole community of "sisters on the wall."