Monday, May 7th, 2012

Pastors wives, help me

My dear sisters,

I hope you’ve seen that we’re ministering in Europe for a couple of weeks now. Almost all of the official speaking is by my husband. But in Hamburg, I will have the chance to be with wives of pastors and other church leaders.

If you were in that gathering, what would you want to hear for encouragement and support? Or to ask it another way, if you were standing before that group of women, what would you want to say to them?

Please respond soon, so I can fold in your advice as I prepare in the next few days. I’d love it if you commented here at this post, so all of us can benefit. But if you’d rather, you can use the contact link above.

Thank you very much.

 

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39 Responses to “Pastors wives, help me”

  1. I am a missionary wife. I would like to hear some encouragement about when depression hits you in the midst of ministry. It has happened to me before and I know it happens to women in ministry. How can God use it? How do you rise above it? How do you conquer the guilt that surrounds it? It’s a deep topic but I think it is one that ministry wives struggle with.

  2. This is coming from a pastor’s kid, having watched my parents in ministry for many years. :) Be your husbands biggest fan and prayer warrior, create a haven and safe welcoming place for him to come home to. Don’t criticize him or the congregants, but pray instead. Help him set boundaries and have time for his family and say no and set boundaries with energy sucking and negative people. Pray for your children, they are in a spiritual battle too. Teach them how to put Gods armor on daily. Thanks!

  3. Great suggestions Melissa and Holly!

    The main thing that I would bring to these wonderful women would be: “God loves you, so GO: do His work with all your soul, heart, mind and strength.” It’s always wonderful to focus completely on the basics.

    However! I also think that a discussion about how married women can mentor/support single women would be encouraging. I often find that women tend to mingle with other women of their own status. I don’t think this is a bad thing; as we all need people to support us where we are at, and we can all give to others wisdom that we have gained in life. However, where I am there is sometimes a lack of teaching/support of single women by married women and visa versa.

    Not sure what advice could be given. But it’s a good question. ^_^

  4. Hi! My husband is a pastor in México city. I’d love to hear a word on how to better support my husband in the midst of chuch issues. Also something about How to handle critics from church members. God Bless you!!!

  5. Im a pastor’s wife and just got home from Italy / Romania, ministering with my husband. I think the greatest encouragement you can give to women anywhere, is just keep obeying God. Obey Him in the rough places and when the waters seem calm. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and honor Him with joy. Be brave and be tough. Let His glory be your satisfaction and pour your life out for Him. Whether we are in Germany, Indonesia, or on Rodeo Drive, He is our Lord and Master. We MUST stay focused. His joy will be our strength.

  6. I’m a pastor’s wife who grew up as a pastor’s kid and a pastor’s granddaughter. It’s in my blood I guess. Being the “first lady” is often a lonely place as she is overlooked and the pastor has to divide his time with his people and his home. PRAY daily for your husband/pastor. Let him know you are praying for him. I leave notes in the pulpit to surprise him with when he’s had a rough week. Let him know you are proud of him and encourage him to keep preaching God’s Word.

  7. I would want words of wisdom about the hurt that extends to a pastor’s family when there is strife in the church. How does a pastor’s wife deal with her own heart that can be so deeply wounded by those who are upset with or angry with her husband. What does she do when that hurt extends to her children, especially if things have been said that affect her children. It is more than being tough and letting it roll off and yes, it is persevere and look to Jesus – but what are some practical ways you can continue to walk in love, fighting bitterness, and serving, and when might it be right to take a step back from serving to be refreshed and heal.

  8. I’m not a pastor’s wife YET, but we’re getting married soon and going to seminary shortly thereafter. I would want to know…What are the effects of full-time ministry on the heart of a marriage? How much time is reasonable to expect to spend with her husband? What are normal challenges in a marriage-ministry and when do normal challenges become harmful patterns?

    I also am already tempted, even though we’re not married/in formal ministry yet, to “put on a happy face” when I’ve actually had a really bad day. Is it necessary for the wife and children of the pastor to “keep up appearances” to any extent or does that kind of attitude create bitter wives and rebellious PKs?

    Prayers for your ministry to the women of Hamburg!

    • Kellie Shramek

      Wow- great questions. I would love to hear Noel’s answers to these. Maybe some future blog posts?

  9. Remembering what a great privilege it is to be a part of your husband’s ministry is helpful. I have always been glad that my husband didn’t have a 9-5 job in which I never had a part. We have always been a team in everything he has done and it has kept us close. Serving the Lord with your husband is a joy (even when it’s hard).

  10. As a pastor’s wife I often need to be reminded that obeying God (including the commandment to love Him, of course) is enough. “Results” aren’t enough and aren’t always a true measure of our faithfulness. If we love Him well, even if our labors do not show the fruitfulness we work and pray towards, we are successful in God’s eyes.

  11. As I’ve spent my first year as a pastor’s wife at a small church, based on advice given from pastors’ wives (including you Noel), I’ve kept myself open about my daily struggle with depression, and I’ve learned to be wise with my interactions and who I let into the inner circle. That said, I often feel woefully inadequate in my day to day interactions. I don’t feel as though I am a stereotypical pastor’s wife and I have moments of “Really, God, me? You have *me* as a pastor’s wife? Have you *met* me?” (I know, very holy sounding right? ^^). While I believe that God places us where we are with sovereign design, I still often experience the “square peg in a round hole” feeling.

    I’d love to hear about all the ways God uses our weaknesses and our oddities to create a ministry that is rich and fruitful. A little hope that my depression will not damage my husband’s ministry (as of yet, I’ve had nothing but an outpouring of women relieved to hear that I am not perfect, but I worry that at some point, when things get tough, that I will somehow be a hindrance rather than a blessing).

    That’s my really long, rambling reply to that :P

  12. The greatest advice I ever received about being a pastors wife was to understand that our church is my mission field. A wise woman told me, “If you were on the mission field and one of the locals hurt you or disrespected you you would not be angry or surprised. Your congregation is your mission field. Pray that God will give you a mother’s love for them and never forget that it was they that God called you to serve.”

  13. How Jesus makes our burden light… How that is practically played out in the life on a pastor’s wife burdened by the needs of the people, her husband, her position, expectations, events, etc.

  14. Hi Noel! As a pastor’s wife in Minnesota I find that I, along with every woman I know, needs constant reminder and encouragement that our Heavenly Father accepts and loves us regardless of our performance, regardless of how much we “do” in ministry, regardless of how obedient our children are, regardless of the “success” of our ministry. Our Father’s love is set on us because of Jesus atoning work for us in grace through faith. This is the power of the Gospel and when we walk in this truth and rest in this truth we invite His power into our lives. And we need the Spirit’s power in this ministry! A book that is really helpful is called From Fear to Freedom by Rosemarie Miller. She is a pastor’s wife who shares her journey of ministering in her flesh for so many years and how the Lord opened her eyes to the power of the Gospel. Praying for your ministry Noel! Our Lord is with you. May His Spirit come to you and to our sisters in Germany in a powerful way.
    with much affection,
    Gayle Glenn

  15. I’m not a pastor’s wife but I just wanted you to know I am gaining incredible encouragement just by reading these comments! Thank you so much for opening up this discussion. I can’t wait to hear how it went!

  16. Noel, much of what I know about being a pastor’s wife I learned from you and Julie Stellar, so just think of what you told us back in the days when the apprentice wives were meeting! : ) More specifically, I would encourage wives that there main ministry is to support their husbands, which would include such practical things as making sure the children are cared for on Sunday morning so that he has nothing to worry about; do not expect him to help when young children wake up during the night on a Saturday; do not entertain any complaints from others, rather refer them to him; make the home a haven where he can rest…the list goes on and on. I would also address the loneliness, which I still do not have an answer to after 22 years in ministry. I have greatly benefited from friendships outside the church, so I would encourage that. You will do well, Noel! You are still an encouragement to me!

  17. Noel,
    I would encourage the pastors’ wives to ponder this question: “Why do I ….. (fill in the blank with whatever minsitries the pastor’s wife is involved in)?” In other words, what is my motivation for being involved in something? Is it because I think someone will be hurt if I don’t (which might sometimes be important to think about, to some degree, but other times may not)? Is it because others expect me to do this because I am a pastor’s wife and I should be involved in it? I think it’s so vital to develop a process for deciding to say “yes”… my ideal and usual response is to take time,wait, pray for God’s wisdom, and join only into ministry where I sense God’s call for me. It’s often hard to distinguish God’s call from the call of others’ expectations.

  18. Pastor’s wives struggle very deeply with the expectations of others about her role in the church–and everyone has a different idea of what that should look like. But she is not called or ordained by the congregation, unlike her husband. She is to help him in whatever way is best for the two of them; the way that truly best enables her husband to do his work well. As a pastor’s wife I know we really truly need encouragement; our husbands also need encouragement to let us be only their wives and not the wife of the whole church. :) In the end, pastors and their wives answer to the Lord, as all Christians do, not to the congregation. Encourage these women to experience the freedom of realizing that it is the Lord’s Church, He builds it in His time, and their role is to be no more or less than other married women in the church, helping their husbands, raising their children, and extending hospitality to strangers and mercy to the poor, and that ultimately they answer to the Lord and not to other people.

  19. Rebecca Hacker

    My husband is a Pastor in Portsmouth, England. He would say that the best way I can support him is by praying with and for him.
    thanks,
    Becky

  20. Mandi Kessler

    How to raise children that love the Lord when they often see more than others about how people in the church can be ungodly and unloving.

  21. Not disclosed

    Walk tenderly to the reality that these things you discuss as “pastors wives” is not just experienced and felt isolated to carrying that role. Yes, there are times when the burdens are more consistent maybe, but we all have similar burdens, struggles, hurts regardless of which role we play in God’s kingdom work. Spiritual, physcial, emtional is part of who we all are. As a woman who is not a pastors wife, but fully involved in church life and ministry in the spheres God has placed me,my husband, and our family, I can sometimes feel an unintentional isolation from recieving these types of encouragements, care and discussions because it is often so targeted, and the pastors wives can seem to stick together in that way. I love the pastors wives that are in my life and desire to stand on the platform of grace next to them looking for that same hope in Jesus truth and be fed and encouraged too. so as you receive, be grateful and keep a soft heart to the others in the church who may never carry the titles you are but are waiting, hoping, and desiring God and His truth as well to continue on in His call to their lives.

  22. I would agree with Beth’s request. How does a pastor’s wife continue loving, serving, and forgiving in a church where her husband is treated with contempt? Obviously no church is perfect and hopefully the leadership of the church would intervene in such a case, but when it does not, how do you manage your own heart’s pain over this? How do you keep giving when the most natural instinct is to withdraw from the church and keep your children from the hurt? I have witnessed first hand the hurt caused by gossip, and it is ripping up our church. Aside – Will you be doing any of these seminars here in the States? I would travel to hear your wisdom on these issues and respect you and your husband tremendously. Thank you!

  23. Hi Noel, blessings! Offering a time for personal and private prayer is good, sometimes missionary or pastor wives don’t get a chance to seek out prayers of someone confidential and that would so bless the weary and the mighty alike. It might also be helpful to talk about “prodigals” == ministry families struggle when children are “wayward” or oppositional or resentful about parents in ministry. Praying for you and loving you — its a testimony to your humble spirit that you invite input.

  24. I always need to be reminded that I can be used even though I don’t look like the typical pastor’s wife. I wish I was more of a servant/encourager, but I am a teacher. I focus on the things I am not gifted in instead of the ways God can use the gifts he has given me.

    I also agree that these women would love the opportunity to pray for one another, with women who get their stuggles and with whom they can “let their guard down.”

  25. I think I would encourage them to be confident in the fact that they have, first and foremost, to be their husband’s helpmeet. We should never underestimate the value of our ministry to him as it helps to strengthen and equip him for the work he’s been given by the Lord. Sometimes, I think we can be intimidated and overwhelmed by the expectations we feel (or know) others have for us as pastors’ wives, so we should know that caring for and supporting our husbands is vitally important to any minitry. We should never neglect these duties in favor of more public forms of ministry.

  26. I would want to know:

    - How to handle criticism of your husband from the church
    - Who/How to ask for help when there is a tough season in your own marriage

    I would tell pastors’ wives:

    - Find other pastors’ wives to have coffee with and pray with once a month
    - Don’t get bitter!

  27. The gospel! Christ died for us and rose again and in Him there is always hope for every life, every situation, every local body of believers. In Him there is strength for the day. He is faithful; He will carry on to completion the good work that He has begun…it isn’t up to us pastor’s wives to get it all done.

    Tell them that they are not forgotten (God sees and He hears) and that they are loved by God and by their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

    My husband is currently the interim pastor for a body of believers who are healing from a lot of hurt. Every Sunday as my husband preaches Christ centered, gospel filled sermons, we see more healing and wholeness coming to the hearts of the people. Amen.

    I am in prayer for you even now, Noel, knowing that God will fill your mouth with the words He has for these dear ones.

  28. Kellie Shramek

    Personal stories of when things aren’t what you expect how God helped/helps you with these things.

  29. Wow, I love that you are doing this! I would love to be there as you share to hear what the Lord has laid on your heart and to be encouraged by someone who has walked down the same road we are taking. Recently, my husband taught a series on marriage and his first sermon in the series came from Genesis 2 when God made woman. He talked about how we are to be a helper for our husbands, and that word actually means a shield, a defender. Wow! I have been encouraged to go to battle for my husband as I pray for him. I would love to hear how other pastor’s wives walk through particularly difficult seasons with grace. I would want to be reminded of how wonderful ministry is as well. I do hope you will share more before/after your trip!

    Thank you!

  30. Oops, typo! *share with them*

  31. Hamburg! My dear friend Kati is returning there in 6 weeks to become a pastor’s wife for the first time. Her husband is currently a student along with mine at Sovereign Grace’s Pastor’s College here in Gaithersburg, MD. One thing we’ve observed about German people, (especially those in ministry)is their hard-working,”just do it” approach. They have such a high work ethic. Kati already has several things on her plate when she returns to her church. I think for German pastor’s wives particularly, perhaps hearing on rest…what does it look like to rest in the Lord as a pastor’s wife? Supporting their husbands (and therefore the church) by playing their position at home, first and foremost. “In quietness and rest is your strength.” Perhaps this would serve these commendable women who are so apt already to pour out every bit of strength for the church.

  32. As a pastor’s wife, I would encourage other pw’s to b real with their church community. Don’t try to do everything, lead everything, or pretend you always have it together. I have found such joy in stepping back and watching others step up while I also have more time to devote to my family & creating a home for them. I think it’s important that we lead in being women who know they are deeply loved by God no matter what. We mess up, and it’s okay if our congregants know that. Live in the goodness of the grace you’ve received and extend that grace to others (including your husband : )

  33. How to minister in an area where you feel like an outcast

  34. Verena Wegert

    Noel, is has been wonderful listening to you here in Hamburg. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. We are very much blessed! Yes, it is not about us, it is about HIM. :-)

  35. [...] you so much for your responses when I asked for your help before I spoke to women here in Hamburg, Germany, at Evangelium 21. In the days before I met with [...]

  36. [...] few days ago, I asked for help from fellow ministry women. Their answers were tremendously challenging to me as I tried to prepare [...]

  37. Loneliness as a pastor’s wife.

  38. salagala,giri kumar

    we are praying for u all please pray for us with love pastor Giri

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