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Volume 12, Issue 2: Femina

The Pastor's Wife

Nancy Wilson

Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things (1 Timothy 3:11). If you have the priviglege of being married to a faithful pastor, this column is addressed to you. I hope both elders' wives and deacons' wives can also make application, as well as women whose husbands are in the ministry as missionaries, etc.; but, nevertheless, it is the pastors' wives I am singling out here. The verse above is actually speaking about deacons' wives, so I am extending the application to elders' and pastors' wives. And of course, all Christian wives should be the kind of women described in the verse above. It is not as though the wives of church officers are the only ones who have to be faithful in all things.

We live in a time when there is a great need for courageous and uncompromising pastors who will lead the church out of its sin and into greater obedience and faithfulness. It is no mean thing for a woman to be married to a man who fills the pulpit each Lord's Day to proclaim God's Word. For this reason, we who are married to such men must examine our duties and obligations to determine how we can be of particular blessing and of greatest help to them in their calling.
First we must realize that "pastor's wife" is not a church office. Sometimes we have stereotyped what the ideal pastor's wife is, and we assume we must strive to be like her, whoever she is. I used to think the pastor's wife would have to play the piano or perform special music or at least be in the choir. This was an easy one for me to dismiss, because I could neither play an instrument nor sing well enough to be in the choir (if we'd had one back then). It was a great relief for me to realize that if my husband was going to be a pastor, my job wouldn't really change. I would still be, first and foremost, Doug's wife, no matter what he was doing. My job was essentially the same: helping him by managing the household and caring for the children. Every wife has unique duties based on her husband's calling, and the pastor's wife is no exception. But first I would like to lay out what a pastor's wife isn't.
The pastor's wife is not the church hostess. She is not responsible to see that everyone has a good time during the worship service. If things go wrong, or if someone is unhappy with her husband or with some aspect of the service, it is not her responsibility to fix the problem. This is the elders' job.
Nor is she the social organizer for the church, planning or even attending every potluck or baby shower. This is for the women of the church to undertake as a body. The pastor's wife is not responsible to have everyone in the church over for dinner. This is an impossibility unless it is a very small church. Hospitality is mandated for the whole church, not just for the pastor's family. Too much hospitality can drain the family, and if the pastor spends most days ministering to people, he needs some down time at home in the evenings, not more ministry.
The pastor's wife is not automatically the head of women's ministries. In fact, if she is not inclined or gifted in teaching, she should not feel pressure to teach Bible studies or Sunday school classes. She does not necessarily have the same gifts of teaching and counseling as her husband does. Of course, if she is inclined to lead Bible studies, and if her husband wants her to do this, then certainly it is lawful. It just isn't a requirement that comes with the territory.
The pastor's wife should not be viewed as the "standard" for dress or behavior; she is to model scriptural principles, not be a Christian trend setter. If she doesn't view herself this way, chances are others won't view her that way either. Now let's consider what are the unique duties of the pastor's wife.
First, a pastor's wife should keep the pastor her number-one priority, not the church. Her ministry is to him and secondly to their children. This means keeping his needs foremost in her plans and in her mind. The pastor's wife is no different from any Christian wife on this point, no matter what the husband's calling. On the very mundane, yet very important level, she is to make sure he has clean socks and a pressed shirt, nice meals, and a clean house to come home to.
A pastor's wife should make sure her husband feels, sexually, like he fell in a chocolate cream pie. In other words, she should protect him sexually by keeping him sexually satiated. A pastor's wife needs to be discreet. She may be privy to much confidential information, and she must guard her tongue and not share too much about people or situations.
A pastor's wife should be careful to respect her husband and his position in the church. She should strive to be faithful in all things, so there is no possibility that she would, by her conduct, disqualify her husband. She should be the model parishioner by preparing herself for Sunday worship, showing respect and honor for his office, listening intently to his preaching, and applying eagerly all she learns from him. His preaching and teaching should not be taken lightly because, after all, it's just her husband up there in the pulpit. She should be humble, teachable, and easily led by her pastor, her husband. She should be his most apt pupil in this regard, and take what he is and what he says very seriously.

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