14 Nov Advice for a Young Pastor’s Wife
I was raised in a pastor’s home and I’ve served as a pastor’s wife for approaching fifty years. I’d like to share with young pastors’ wives some of the insights I’ve gained through the many blessings of ministry that were also mingled with some real challenges. I remember well the questions I had as a young pastor’s wife and I humbly offer to you some advice, with the hope I may inspire you in your wonderful role in local church ministry.
As God calls your husband and you into ministry, and you realize that you are the pastor’s wife in a new church ministry, there are things you can do that will help your husband be a better pastor and you be a supportive pastor’s wife.
Hunger for God’s Word
The first thing you must consider is your walk with the Lord. Do you have a hunger and thirst for God and His Word? As I look back over my years of ministry as a pastor’s wife, almost daily I’ve been asked questions or I’ve been presented with people’s crises and situations in life. I’ve needed to have God’s Word in my head and heart and on my tongue in order to bring healing and help in their time of need.
Be sure you are spending time in God’s Word daily and you are learning and growing. Memorize verses with specific promises and encouragement. Then when given an opportunity to respond to someone, you have appropriate verses buried internally that the Holy Spirit can bring to your mind, and you can share those verses with God’s supernatural power. Sharing God’s Word is more powerful than sharing your opinion. Read Christian biographies to see how others have served the Lord in many places and in many difficult circumstances. Find a pastor’s wife older than yourself that you and your husband both agree is a mature believer, and try to meet with her as often as possible to learn from her walk with the Lord and her insights into Scripture.
Think of Others
The second thing that will be helpful is summarized in this phrase from John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” In a church there are people who you must care for. If you are only thinking of yourself and your family’s needs, you will limit your ability to minister. Study the example of Christ that we have in Philippians 2 and John 13 and see Him serving others. He wasn’t worried about Himself; He came to serve. When you go to a new church and they see you as their new pastor’s wife, be a servant to all. Study the “one another” phrases in the New Testament and ask God to help you minister like that to others in the congregation. Be willing to mingle with all different types of individuals in the church. Learn their names. Be willing to spend time with them, have them over to your home, and use your gift(s) among them. Show them that you love them and desire their love in return.
Use Your Gift from God
Some young pastor’s wives aren’t sure what their gift(s) are and so they do nothing but work in their homes. Instead, a pastor’s wife should simply start doing different ministries in the church and allow God to show you how He wants to use you in the body of Christ. The greatest asset to any man’s ministry is a wife who is approachable by the church people and enjoys opening her home and her life up to them. They in turn will open up their hearts to the pastor and his family. Being the wife of a pastor and the mother of children (if you have them) means that you will be very busy. But you must seek to have time in your day for the people of your church. Be flexible, able to change your schedule without complaining. With each task you do, tell yourself truth – you are doing it for Christ Himself.
Personal Ministry to Your Husband
A large part of your ministry as a pastor’s wife is your ministry personally and directly done for your husband. It starts with praying for him. Each day spend time in prayer just for your husband, asking God to continue molding him into the type of leader described in 1 Timothy 3:2-7. I go to prayer for my husband when I can sense that he is in an intense spiritual battle – often this would be on Saturday night as he concluded his preparation for Sunday’s services.
You as the pastor’s wife are very visible, so your relationship with your husband will also be very visible. Show him respect in your words and reactions. Allow him to lead by not interrupting him when he is talking, or correcting him when he is teaching, or answering the questions directed at you that only he should answer. Seek to encourage him by making his favorite food, spending time listening to him, and even just being near him quietly when he is upset. Write him notes with verses that will encourage and redirect his thoughts. Verbally encourage him when he has finished preaching as this is often when Satan puts doubts in his mind. Just stand near him at church and squeeze his arm, letting him know you are there supporting him. Listen when he preaches. That sounds like a strange thing to say, but you may find yourself getting so used to his style of preaching that you don’t listen with that leaning-forward-and-focused type of attitude. He is your pastor, and God speaks through His Word to your heart as preached by your husband. I have grown so much under my husband’s preaching . . . I enjoy each time I get to hear him preach the Word of God. I can say truthfully that I always learn something that I can use in my walk with the Lord.
Watch What You Say
Something else that all pastors’ wives need is God’s supernatural help regarding the use of our tongue. So many times we say things we shouldn’t, or we don’t say things we should. When it comes to helping your husband in ministry, you show him respect by speaking about him and his leadership in a positive way. Today’s culture wants to encourage women to mock or run men “under the bus.” Be an example to others by saying positive things about your husband, bringing the conversations to a level that pleases the Lord. In James we read about the tongue and how it can start “fires” and even “adding fuel to a fire.” This is where wisdom comes in and that quiet and gentle spirit described in 1 Peter 3:5. Wisdom will tell you when to speak. And restraining yourself from saying everything you think will cause you to become a beautiful woman / pastor’s wife with a quiet and gentle spirit. There will be times when you speak the wrong words and you get yourself in trouble with someone at church. Then you have only one choice: go to them and confess your sin. It is humbling and difficult, but it is the right thing to do. I know – I’ve had to do this more than once in our ministries. My prayer when God moved us into a new ministry was this: “God, help me not to say anything that will cause division between me and another person. Help me to talk less and listen more.” This is not easy to do, but very rewarding! I did not want to be a problem to my husband’s ministry in any way.
Dealing with People in the Congregation
There are going to be tough times in every ministry. There will be those who will not be happy with your husband for some reason, people who leave the church, people who may be difficult to get along with. There will be disagreements and jealousy among the people of your congregation and many other things that are part of the spiritual war we face daily. Included in the tough times in ministry are the things you as a family will go through. It isn’t easy being a pastor’s wife, but God never changes, and He is there for you to lean on, to pray to, and to wait for His help. These times are when God increases your trust in Him and deepens your relationship with Him. He is enough!
A Passion for Ministry
And lastly, as a young pastor’s wife you definitely want to have a passion for the ministry where God places you and your husband. You can show this passion by coming to church early and talking with people as they arrive. Carry a small notebook and write simple notes from your conversations with their names for future reference and prayer. People want to know that you were listening, and by asking the next time you see them about a specific thing they shared previously, they will know that you cared and listened. It really grieves me when I see a young pastor’s wife who only thinks about her family and is not really involved in the church’s ministry alongside her husband. You can do both.
As a young mother I would attend church dinners, fellowship times and special activities at church, and instead of sitting next to my husband, I would purposely take the kids and sit with other people. Both my husband and I agreed that this helped us be with more people in the congregation and enabled us to multiply our ministry at the event. And the people I would sit with would love helping me care for the children if needed. I still do this now whenever my husband and I minister in church. It only expands his ministry. We can reach out to twice as many people and communicate to them each in our own way.
During the week you can show your passion for ministry by:
- Sending small notes/cards to those who are sick, grieving or having a birthday.
- Volunteering to make a meal or dessert for a family that is struggling financially.
- Visiting a person – take your children and teach them how to love others.
- Calling and reading the Bible with a woman who is lonely or new.
- Calling and listening to one who is walking through a difficult time and then praying with them right then on the phone.
- Participating in the church’s activities.
- Spending time with younger women and older women
Each woman is different and needs to express herself in the church’s ministry in her own way. Don’t read into my words above that you have to do your ministry my way. And don’t feel intimidated by what you are not doing compared to what other women you admire are doing. Get involved in your church’s ministry, exercising your gifts in your way, as your own unique ministry unto the Lord. I have just included some ideas for you to consider… but prayerfully adopt some of your own ideas. Ask God daily to show you how He wants to use you for that day. Then respond to the leading of His Holy Spirit.
The other day I was driving home and felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to go see a woman from church who had recently been widowed. It was later and I was tired, but I felt I needed to obey. So I looked up her address and drove over there not knowing what I would encounter. The result of obeying the urging of the Holy Spirit was a blessing to both of us – we sat and talked for two hours, and . . . well, it was the right thing to do. Other things were left undone that had been on my schedule – but God knew what was needed for that moment that was most important.
Being a pastor’s wife is a wonderful calling – yes, I do believe that the wife is also called when the husband is called. It is a team ministry. It isn’t your pastor husband doing his job and you doing your thing. It is a together thing. You are his helper as a wife, and his helper in ministry. I love being my husband’s helper in ministry and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Miriam Lofquist is the Dean of Women at Shepherds Theological Seminary, where she mentors female students and the wives of seminary students. She graduated from Grand Rapids (MI) School of Bible and Music with a degree in Christian Education. Her father, now in heaven, served as a pastor for over sixty-five years. Her husband has served as a pastor since 1976. She loves to encourage women to serve Jesus Christ.