#1 Staff Member
Sometime ago I wrote an article concerning pastors and their responsibilities. I also addressed the responsibility of the church to encourage and follow the pastor as he leads. While there are no perfect pastors and no perfect congregations, a large majority of pastors are right hearted and caring shepherds who stay focused on leading their people in the Jesus way. I must say that there are also a large number of our congregations who recognize that and want to be a part of doing something magnificent to the glory of Jesus.
While I received a number of letters, calls and emails concerning that article, the response that was of the greatest significance to me personally was from one of our precious ladies. She was very positive about the article, but she pointed out to me that one thing may have been left out. I did not include anything about the difficulty of being the wife of the pastor. If the pastor has a difficult job, being the wife of a pastor is difficulty on steroids. I entitled this article the #1 Staff Member simply because the pastor’s companion is without question the most significant person in his life whether he is trying to help raise children or lead a church. The wife does not sign on to be a staff member, but when God brings the two of them together she becomes more significant in what God is going to do through the pastor’s life than either she or he can ever imagine.
I have been blessed all of my life for I have been influenced, inspired, affected and corrected by a pastor’s wife. I was raised by a pastor’s wife, married a lady who was willing to be a pastor’s wife, have a daughter-in-law who is helping her pastor husband and beyond that I have known hundreds of wonderful, gracious ladies who are filling that impossible task with grace and style. One of the things that complicates the role of the pastor’s wife is the total package that they are expected to be. They are expected to be a wonderful person, a wife to a husband who is never on schedule, maybe a mom to a number of children, a friend to people who need someone who cares, a church member who is expected to go to more meetings than anyone else in the church except her husband and a participant in every activity that comes along.
Beyond that she may have a full-time job and fill a role of a professional person. Of course, she is expected to balance all of this, give at least 36 hours a day in the Lord’s service, raise wonderful, gracious, sweet-spirit, and bright children, keep her husband on track and smile through every endeavor. I am sorry, but it is impossible to do. She can be a great person and do many things but she cannot do everything that everybody expects of her. Just think with me about the issues with which she may be struggling.
First, she is uncalled but committed. Now when I say that she is uncalled I am not saying that God doesn’t work in her life and maybe called her to a special life of ministry with her husband. But whenever the church voted to call him as their pastor, the majority of the people treat the wife and the children as though they are just a part of the package. That is a non-spoken assumption that people make, and it is not good. If a church is in a position to hire a maintenance person to work full-time fixing, mending and repairing, no one would ever give a thought to the fact that his wife should be there helping him all along the way. If you hire someone to head up food services at your church, probably no one gives a thought to the fact that the spouse or children should be involved in all of the preparation and serving of the food. Even the wives of other staff members are not as high profile or expected to be everything to everybody like the pastor’s wife is. Yet the vote that was taken on him to come and be the shepherd of the flock somehow spreads to her. It is remarkable that so many of them are so committed to the Lord, to their husband and family that they do everything that they can to fill all of the expectations. Still it is awkward and there is a degree of unfairness.
A second thing that often becomes a part of the role of the pastor’s wife is that she is generally uncompensated but caring.The pastor’s wife is presumed upon probably more than anyone in the church consistently and long-term. While other people may have opportunity to decide whether or not they want to participate or attend, she is often expected to be at every wedding, funeral, anniversary celebration, worship service and major event whether it is with children, youth, singles or senior adults. Often she is not asked whether or not she wants to be a participant, it is just presumed that she can and will. So she prepares food for some special things, directs weddings, helps with setting up, entertains while people are there and then offers to help with the cleanup. All of which, I am sure most people appreciate but for which the compensation is rare.
A third issue that arises is that the pastor’s wife is rarely complimented but always constant. I appreciate so much one of our fine ladies calling my attention to what I had left out for it speaks to this very issue of how rarely the wife of the pastor may be complimented. The people may show appreciation and thank the pastor for leading, praying at certain civic functions, being in the limelight at some gathering, preaching every Sunday, and leading a group of people in a grief experience. The wonderful spirit in his wife may well be making a bigger difference than anything that he says or does as she performs the wonder of making a difference in people’s homes and hearts again and again, but no one stops to say a word of thanks.
Ladies and gentlemen, the pastor and his wife deserve whatever support, encouragement, compliments and blessings you can give. Now I hope that you will not wait until Thanksgiving, Christmas, or some special event but that you will start right now. You do not even have to wait until Sunday. Call, write or do something special for your pastor’s wife. Someone may think or say that our pastor’s wife does not do all of those things that you have said. My response would be twofold. No one is capable of doing all of those things. I assure you that she is doing a lot more to try to keep body, soul and the work of God together than you could ever imagine. She deserves your blessings and praise. When we fail to do so, it says more about us than it does about her. So figure out a way to be a blessing to the lady who blesses your pastor.