In this series, I’m considering some things that I’ve learned while pastoring over the last 15 years. You can check out the previous posts and a series introduction here:
In this post, we’ll consider Lesson #4: Encourage your wife to serve in the church where she feels led and gifted, and then protect her choices.
I’m cheating a little on this lesson—I’ve been a pastor far longer than I’ve been married. But then again, maybe that has helped me learn this lesson in an accelerated way since I didn’t come to the church with a wife but was here for six years and then she joined me.
We pastors joke about this, but we joke because it’s a sad expectation of some churches—they think that in hiring a pastor they’re getting a 2-for-1 deal with his wife. Surely, she’ll play piano or teach Sunday School or run the children’s program or be a primary mentor of other women or work every other week in the nursery or help in the kitchen or, or, or, or even sometimes and, and, and… But a man being a pastor does not make his wife a pastorette. In fact, the Bible says precious little about the role of a pastor’s wife and when it does it’s in the context of judging the character of the pastor by how he treats and relates to her.
My wife, as every pastor’s wife, is gifted in so many wonderful ways. Honestly, often I think she is a better follower of Jesus than me. She teaches a Sunday School class, she mentors a young lady, she hosts ladies’ brunches at our house every few months, and she does these things by her choosing. She also works fulltime, does a lot to care for our foster kids, and is presently pregnant with our first biological child.
She had volunteered to work in Awana, though she didn’t see it as her true gifting, but she decided to stop once our current foster placement came and she started to feel the effects of pregnancy. She has been asked to sing special music, but she smiled and said no. I even asked her if she wanted to be on the Sunday morning prayer and scripture reading list, and she told me no.
Those are her choices because she doesn’t want to spread herself too thin, and I don’t want her to either.
My job, then, as her husband but also her pastor is to protect her choices from the expectations of others. If someone questions her choices, I’ll be gracious about it but I will explain that she’s involved elsewhere and her main responsibility is to do what God has led her to do. Men, it’s our responsibility not to exasperate our wives nor to let the church do the same. She is God’s daughter, filled with the Holy Spirit and gifted the way he has chosen to gift her—it’s here that we’re to encourage her to shine.
I heard another pastor (I wish I remembered who, I remember the quote but not who said it) once say, “If a search committee asks me what my wife will do, I reply that she cares for me and cares for our children, anything else on top of that is completely up to her.”
May that be our attitude. May we lovingly and graciously protect our wives from the expectations of anyone other than God.