A Word for Pastor’s Wives

Being a pastor’s wife is a tough calling. And it is one that very few women sign up for, knowing what they are getting into.

When you are a pastor’s wife there are high demands and lots of hard work. You know people have high expectations of you, but they are never clearly defined. There is only ever a vague sense of whether or not you’re meeting the standards of the people you’re aiming to serve.

Against the notion that ‘the pastor’s wife is special,’ pastors encourage our wives: Be a normal member, be a normal wife, be a normal mother. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

But there are still unspoken pressures. You have to be exemplary.

If your home isn’t right, or if you don’t invite the right people over enough times, you’re not hospitable. Simply having a bad Sunday can mean that people think you’re unfriendly, or unwelcoming. If you have friends in the church, people may perceive you as ‘cliquey’ and say you have favourites. And if you don’t have friends, you might look ‘stand-offish’ or ‘unavailable.’

And on top of that you have a husband who, more often than not, works weird hours, feels burdened with anxiety for the church, and is weighed down by other people’s sins and sorrows (many of which he can’t share). He is relationally drained long before he enters the home at night — right when you need him to engage. And even in sharing your struggles with him you feel guilty, like you’re ‘piling on’ to someone who is already carrying too much.

But for the pastor’s wife who is truly, first of all, a wife to her husband, there is a great promise of great reward.

The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (Matthew 10:41-42 ESV)

While Jesus, very clearly, did not have pastor’s wives in view when he first spoke these words, he was making a proclamation of hope for those who help others to spread the gospel.

The ‘spreaders of the gospel’ that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 10 need help. They need to be ‘received.’ That would include feeding them, caring for their physical needs, and providing shelter for them. It is doing whatever is necessary to free them up to speak the gospel. Who does this for a pastor more than his own wife?

Ministry wife, hear this word: Every moment of ministry in your husband’s life, every gospel word that proceeds from your husband’s mouth will be rewarded. And inasmuch as you have ‘received’ him and helped him, that reward will be for you. While the person who ‘receives’ does not engage in the actual work of spreading the gospel, they receive the exact same reward.

Don’t believe the lie that your husband is the only one doing real ministry or that there would be greater reward in the ministry you’re giving up than in the ministry you’re facilitating. God has called you to ‘receive’ your husband, to care for him, to give him many ‘cups of cold water,’ to refresh his body, mind and soul. And in all his labours, you will find reward.

A Challenge for the Rest of Us

Friend, can I encourage you to do something very practical? The next time you’re talking to a  pastor’s wife, can you encourage her with these words? Will you remind her of the eternal rewards she is storing up for herself with every act of service rendered to her husband? Who knows how your words could be a ‘cold cup of water’ to her soul today?

Being a pastor’s wife is certainly a hard life; but it’s certainly a rewarding one too. Just sometimes we all need to be reminded of these things, don’t we?

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