**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!