Ministry Wife Series: 7 Ways to Encourage Your Husband in Ministry

Summer is coming to a close and fall is just around the bend.  October is my favorite month of the year for many reasons (football anyone?) but one of them stands out for our family.  If you are in ministry, chances are it is your favorite, too.  Why? It is Pastor Appreciation Month!  Luke and I consider ourselves supremely blessed to serve a congregation who takes this event to heart. Among the expressions of affection we’ve received are home-cooked meals and goodies brought to our house, gift cards for dinner out and home improvement, notes of encouragement, a gift certificate from my favorite hairdresser, and various treats for the kids.

All of these things are tokens of gratitude for our entire family and believe me, we have no doubt our congregation loves us.  However, our hubbies need applause and inspiration the other eleven months of the year too.

Hold that thought as I share a question from  Bethany. She asks:

How can I be a better encouragement to my husband in his ministry? I know I was never meant to give him the guidance that only God can, but he gets down sometimes. I want to not only uplift his spirit in those down times, but to also spur him on to do his very best as God’s instrument.”

As the wife of a minister, one of our primary roles is to provide refreshment between October’s when the days can sometimes feel long and thankless.  Here are seven practical ways you can give your husband an extra boost just when he needs it most:

1. E-Prayers/Text Prayers:   It is a given we should pray for our husbands.  But, consider what it would mean to him if he were able to read your petitions on his behalf! Send him regular texts or emails chronicling your prayers for him. If he doesn’t have a private e-mail address in his church office, set up a special account for him at a free email hosting site such as www.gmail.com. If your hubby is as tech savvy as mine, also  be willing to teach him how to use it.

2. Plan a lunch date.   Because Luke and I have four children, eating out is a Sunday-Lunch-Only event. However, now that all the kids are in school, we often meet during the day at a restaurant with a cheap lunch menu. Not only is it an inexpensive date, but we are able to give one another undivided attention as we catch up on what is going on in each other’s schedule.

3. Give full attention to his sermon prep. I don’t know about your husband, but mine is encouraged by my undistracted concentration during his sermon preparation. Each week he walks me through what he plans to preach on Sunday to organize his own thoughts and to ask for my input.  I am guilty of listening half-heartedly at times. Nothing says “You matter” like eye contact.

4. Run interference for him. One thing that zaps Luke’s energy is pettiness.  Sisterhood, can we agree that most drama originates in the female half of the species? When foolishness is brewing among the women, I do my best to quash the problem without Luke having to become involved (and many times not even aware).  On those occasions when he’s caught on Sister A is ticked at Sister B, he is always grateful to be relieved of the awkwardness that is a conversation with warring women.

5. Make home a relaxing place.  Keeping it real, making a peaceful home has really been an area where I’ve been convicted of many times throughout life. Our out-of-control schedule has often resulted in  bad attitudes and a stressed out family.  And Sunday mornings, are you kidding me?  As the wife, whether I like to accept the mission or not, it is my job to change the mood in my home.  On Sunday mornings, television is not allowed.  We turn on Christian music to set the tone for worship.  Just this past week, I’ve started to get a handle on overflowing drawers and closets and have started some meal planning so we can hopefully have more dinners at the table in the coming weeks. I’ve also refused some activities we would have otherwise loved to attend because I recognize over-scheduling is at the root of all the other chaos. (Edited to add:  Since the original writing of this article, I have begun working full-time outside the home.  Let’s just say this topic deserves a full article and I am going to add that to the list of ones I have running in my mind. Tips anyone for keeping all the balls in the air?)

6.  Keep his Sundays sacred.  I have a hard and fast rule not to nag Luke on Sundays. I’ve done it in the past and can testify that a good fight before he is supposed to preach is a true Spirit dampener. I’ve had to pray long and hard about it, but I can honestly say God has enabled me to release Luke to do his thing on Sundays without resenting him for leaving me home with the four kids to get ready by myself.  Whatever it takes, resist giving in to feelings of self-pity on the Lord’s Day. In other words, suck it up. Obviously, I’m not trying to minimize how hard it can be to feel like you are going it alone.  However, there are six other days of the week to have that discussion with your husband. Sundays are off limits.

7.  Be spiritually mature.  This is a pre-requisite to being able to resist feelings of self-pity and neglect we just spoke of that can sometimes rear their ugly heads. I’m not saying they shouldn’t exist because our hubbies can become so ministry-minded they are no good at home. Obviously, that should never be, and I’m not at all suggesting you should remain silent if your home and relationship are suffering.  But, I cannot tell you the number of ministry wives with whom I am acquainted who expect their husbands to be their Jesus. These men become the target of their wives’ own spiritual/relational neediness who consequently nag him any time a situation and/or meeting forces him to be away from home.  Girls, if you want to truly encourage your husband, be filled in your own relationship with the Father so that you overflow on him instead of suck him dry every time he hits the door. Have girlfriends and outside interests to meet the relationship needs your husband wasn’t designed to satisfy.   For Pete’s sake, maybe even release him to do something fun (play golf, watch a ball game with man friends) that he doesn’t have to feel guilty for doing.  I love that Luke ministers as the high school football chaplain because I know he needs something he enjoys to relieve stress.   I could pout because I have to go it alone at football games but I choose to be grateful God has given him the opportunity to minister and do something he flat out loves.  Ultimately, he’s the better husband for it.

At the end of the day, our husbands need to know that we are on their side and support the work to which they are called.  (And can I add this advice is not limited to ministry marriages?)  Try a few of these seven things and watch his smile brighten!

Ministry Wife Series: God as Your Pastor

**Once upon a time I wrote a series of articles for ministry wives based on common topics of email questions I receive.  These articles were first published at Christian Women Online but I am reposting them here for those of you who may find them helpful.  I would love to hear some fresh conversation on these subjects!**

An anonymous sister asked,

Few people realize the dilemma of a pastor’s wife. Her husband is the ONLY preacher/pastor that she ever has! This is great, if he is a good preacher, but what if he is not that great a preacher?  Is she doomed to  spiritual starvation and boredom as she sits through his sermons each week?”

By asking if she is “doomed to spiritual starvation and boredom,” I am assuming this pastor’s wife is looking for permission to attend another church where she perceives she will be neither spiritually hungry nor bored. I find no biblical support for making this move.

Let’s turn the tables on this one. Let’s say you love to cook and find great joy in preparing meals for your family. Imagine now that your husband informs you that his mother’s cooking is much better than your own and, in order to satisfy his hunger with the best food, he will start eating supper at her home every night.

It’s tempting to respond with, “YES! It’s pizza tonight, kids!”  However, before you do, truly consider what his decision would do to you as a woman. Personally, I would be devastated to think I had really tried and my husband chose the better meatloaf at the expense of my dignity. I believe this is the same concept as leaving your husband’s church for another just to find “a better meal.”

Two phrases stuck out to me in the initial question:  spiritual starvation and boredom. I think there are ways we can avoid either without taking the drastic measure of seeking nourishment outside the family.

1.  Go to church full. Early in Luke’s ministry, he and I served in a church that did not have the greatest of preachers.  He was an excellent pastor, but his teaching skills were lacking.  I remember clearly Luke and I concluding that God was preparing us for servant leadership by getting us used to feeding ourselves instead of expecting someone else to do it for us.  Luke has stated many times over the years that a Christian will never survive on one thirty-minute sermon per week.  The purpose of Sunday worship is to come in to God’s house overflowing with what He has revealed to us through a week’s worth of personal study and prayer.  If we come in starving, we will still leave with a growling belly.

2.  Don’t force your husband into a role he isn’t meant to fill. As much as I love Luke and his teaching, his sermons are not the meat of my Christian walk.  I love to hear him expose a passage for my deeper understanding and discipleship but he is not God to me, nor does he seek to be.  If I seek spiritual fulfillment based only on how effectively he demonstrates his calling, then yes, I will always be disappointed and perhaps even bored.  However, our joy as pastor’s wives should be found in upholding our husbands’ ministries while exercising our personal gifts.

3.  Be honest about your reasons for not following your husband. I read several forums in preparation to write this article and it’s obvious there are many reasons pastor’s wives choose not to attend their husband’s church. The most common scenario is a woman being deeply attached to a congregation where she was a member before her husband was called to minister.  Because of her long history and love for that body, she is hesitant to depart.

To this Scripture only says one thing:  Leave and cleave.  (Genesis 2:24)  Your place  is by your husband.  Period.

Another reason is the wife not believing her husband is truly ‘called’ to ministry and that he is perhaps pursuing it in vain ambition.  Also noted is that she knows that her husband is not the man he proclaims to be in the pulpit and she refuses to reinforce the lie.

These situations are tough at best. The Bible does not call us to submit to ungodliness.  Honestly, I think the answer to this question is as varied as the individual circumstance.  If marital strife, deceit, or heaven forbid, abuse, has you feeling you can’t sit in the same church body as your husband, then my advice is to seek godly Christian counseling to determine the next step.  There are many low-cost or free resources available.  The Parsonage (www.parsonage.org) is a ministry of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and is a great resource I recommend to find support for the pastor’s family.

I believe with all my heart God’s desire for the minister includes his entire family worshipping in one body.  If you find yourself feeling empty, consider beginning a women’s Bible study group.  You may just find that the measures you take to curb your own spiritual appetite will serve to feed others as well.  That is true ministry and I promise, once embraced it will be the great thrill of your Christian life.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet you’ll forget all about your husband’s lackluster sermons when you are pouring it out into the girls God has entrusted to your care.

Even if the man behind the pulpit happens to be your husband, ultimately, God is your pastor.  I can’t think of another person more supremely qualified to lead you into righteousness than Him!

Sweetening the Pot –                                             A Casting Crowns Giveaway

Chrissy, the Queen of the M2M Blogroll, came up with a great idea to celebrate Fall amongst the ministry wives.  She gives the details here.  She has done such a great job encouraging community between us and I thought I would sweeten the pot for those of you who will play along!

My favorite band, Casting Crowns, has just released their new cd, “Come to the Well“.  It is amazing.  AMAZING.  Of course all of their records are but I’ve literally sobbed like a baby listening to this new one for the last two days.  One of the things I particularly appreciate about Crowns is the fact they are ministers themselves so they understand the life and get to me way down in the deepest cockles of my heart.  I also admire their gift in calling out the church without dishonoring her.  And I may have mentioned a time or seven, but I’ve asked Jesus to let me be able to sing like Megan Garrett when I get to heaven.  Lord knows it ain’t happening on this side of glory.  (I do, however, sing a mean bass line on ‘Where the Soul of Man Never Dies’.)

With that said, here’s the deal.  I am giving away TWO COPIES of this cd to ministry wives who participate on this post and in the Fall Photo Fun! ( This is not a paid endorsement and Casting Crowns do not know I exist.  I just like giving you things that I would like to win myself.)  If you don’t have any photos, don’t go away.  There are a couple of different ways to enter. Here’s how it is going to work:

 

FIRST way to enter:   Submit your name, your fall photo(s), blog name and blog url to m2mblogroll AT apreacherswife DOT com.

SECOND way to enter:  Visit at least five blogs on the M2M blogroll and leave a comment ON THIS POST ONLY telling us which ones you visited. Not sure where to start?  How about the featured ones here?

THIRD way to enter:  Sign up to receive email updates on the right-hand sidebar (trying to build up the mailing list since my feed was broken) and leave a separate comment ON THIS POST ONLY letting me know you have enrolled.

I will randomly select ONE winner from THIS POST ONLY Thursday, October 27 and announce on that day.  I will then select ONE winner from those who send in photos for the November 3rd Fall Photo feature and a winner will be randomly selected and announced on that day.

** Important Notes:  This particular giveaway is reserved for ministry wives whose blogs currently appear on the M2M Blogroll and wish to be spotlighted in the November 3rd edition of M2M Featured Blogs.  If your blog is not currently listed, no problem!  Simply request to be added – we would love to have you join!  If you are not a ministry wife, don’t feel left out.  I will be doing something special for you very soon. :)

** If you are ministry wife without a blog, you may still enter using options 2 or 3 above.

Clear as mud?  Okay!  Proof nothing has changed around here!

Let me leave you with two of my favorite church/ministry songs from the cd.  Have a great week!

This is called Spirit Wind. Senior/Preaching Pastor Wives, get ready to bawl.

City On A Hill. A beautiful challenge for The Church.

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