Who are the pastor’s biggest influences in life? In my previous post I mentioned that I have three answers to that question: #1 – The Holy Spirit, #2 – Your Wife, #3 – Your Mentors. In the previous post I wrote about mentors. Today, I will address the pastor’s greatest human influence, his wife.
I. Her Qualifications
Heather and I met while we were freshmen at Pensacola Christian College in 1998. The first thing I noticed about her was her astounding beauty, though I would grow to learn that this was not her greatest attribute by far. The second attribute I noticed was that she was willing to go out with me, a fact that made her even more attractive. (I had been turned down too many times; I don’t want to talk about it)
I was majoring in Bible with an emphasis on Pastoral Ministry, and she was majoring in Public Relations with an emphasis on Graphic Design. It was in vogue to talk with other 19-year-old theologians about what we were looking for in a wife. Many of us knew fully that we were not only picking out a life partner, but also a ministry partner, someone who would be there on our first day in the pastorate as well as our retirement ceremony. High on the list of qualifications were beauty, musical ability, and a nice car. What do 19-year-old theologians know?
The qualifications of a pastor’s wife, I believe, are found in I Timothy 3 alongside her husband’s. First, she is to desire this position (3:1). How sad for a church to be saddled with a pastor or pastor’s wife that wishes for another life. If Heather and I were to give some advice to an aspiring pastor, it would be to find a woman that actually wants to live this life. At times it can be difficult, scary, and stressful. Be sure she wants more than you; she also wants this life. Secondly, she ought be spiritual (3:2). This is a woman who actually has a walk with God. She loves the scriptures, as does her husband, and walks in the Spirit. Thirdly, she has self-control (3:3). She will need this greatly. Keeping those words in and keeping that fist down are important things when someone attacks your husband or children. Fourthly, she ought see the importance of being a wife and mother (3:4-5). She will have the responsibility of exemplifying the Christian mother and wife, teaching other women how to raise a godly seed for the next generation of Christianity. Fifthly, she ought know the Scriptures (3:6-7). She’s not a newbie to Christianity. She will be looked to for counsel and Bible instruction.
II. Her Responsibilities
Every pastor’s wife is different, and therefore, every pastor’s wife will have different responsibilities. Not every pastor’s wife will be a great public speaker and should not feel the pressure of being one. Not every pastor’s wife will feel led to lead the Women’s Ministry in the church. Not every pastor’s wife will play the piano, lead the children’s choir, or sing in the worship team. Too many churches can put unreasonable expectations upon the pastor’s wife, because they simply don’t understand her position. Then, what is her main responsibility?
Her main responsibility is to be her husband’s helper (Gen. 2:20-25). She is to be his friend when he has no other, his encourager when he feels like quitting, his confidant when he must vent, his partner, his lover, his mate. The pastor needs a pastor. I’m not saying that it is unbiblical for a pastor to not have a wife; I am saying that I can’t imagine doing this alone. Heather is the one I go to when I am discouraged and want to give up, and she pulls me back and reminds me of my gifts and goals. Heather is the one to whom I first reveal an idea in order to receive feedback, thought, and direction. She is the one who challenges my thinking when I am ready to make major decisions. She is the one who has often squashed a bad idea before it ever reached my pulpit, staff, or deacon board. She is my truest counselor, friend, and pastor.
I have an incredible staff who are able to accomplish everything I seem to envision, yet she is the most important staff member. The Lord has given me wonderfully loyal church members who are faithfully in attendance and always willing to serve, yet the most loyal member of our church, over the past 8 years, has been this woman. Time would not permit me to speak of the virtues of my four deacons and their godly wives, yet the greatest servant the Lord has sent our church is the one others refer to as the pastor’s wife.
If you are a pastor, listen to your wife. She ought be your greatest help. How foolish is the pastor who does not take advantage of the unique gift that the Lord has given the church in the form of his dear wife? (Proverbs 18:22)
III. Her Honor
It is dishonoring to gossip about a pastor’s wife. It is dishonoring to expect things from her that God has not gifted her to do. It is dishonoring to compare her to another pastor’s wife, for she is uniquely gifted by God to minister in her way. It is dishonoring to keep her in the dark as to her importance to the work of God. She should know how necessary she is.
Southern Hills Baptist Church has done a superb job at honoring my wife over the years. I cannot recount the many times she has received flowers from our leadership team. The many small gifts that our members have given to her are a testament to their love and appreciation. However, not every pastor’s wife is so blessed. The church ought let her know continually how important she is to the work of God. Most importantly, the pastor ought remind her how the work of God would never be accomplished through his life without her. (Romans 13:7)
It would be redundant for me to say that these are simply my opinions. You may have your own opinions. I’d love to hear them. What do you think the qualifications of a pastor’s wife ought to be? How do you see her responsibilities? (Due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, I encourage your comments to be positive, especially if you are neither a pastor nor pastor’s wife.)