We've released a new version of SermonCentral! Read the release notes here.
Preaching Articles

“D. L. Moody found in his wife what he termed his balance wheel.  With advice, sympathy and faith, this girl labored with him, and by her judgment, tact, and sacrifice, she contributed to his every effort.”  (quoted in “25 Surprising Marriages” by William Petersen)

The pastor’s wife is in a unique position.

She is close to the man of God but she does not come between him and God.  She is privy to a thousand things going on between him and God, but must not insert herself into that process.  She knows this man as no one else in the congregation does and can counsel/advise him as no one else is able, but she must know when to speak up and when to be quiet.

In many respects, she has the best seat in the house and the hardest job.

 

Pray for the young women newly married to men just beginning to pastor churches.  So many of the skills they must master will come not from books but from life experiences, from making mistakes and getting things wrong, from befriending older and more mature ministers’ wives and heeding their counsel, and from the indwelling Spirit of God.

Let the young wives of ministers seek out others of their kind and befriend them. They need one another desperately.   Let them meet in one another’s kitchens where they can talk and vent and pray.

Let them remind each other of the unique position they occupy concerning their husband’s calling.

Now, let us see if we can get that discussion started with what follows.

Here is my list of ten things the wife can do for her preacher-husband that no one else can do.  (Let me say up front, I’m writing from the standpoint of the pastors being men.  I have no experience with women pastors, so to advise them on anything would be presumptuous.  For that reason, I will appreciate no admonitions from readers that I have omitted or insulted the women pastors.  God bless anyone who stands in the pulpit to share His word. Thank you.)

1. The wife can pray for her preacher husband as no one else can.

She shares his struggles, sees his labors, and knows what he is dealing with.  Mostly, what he experiences, she does also. When she prays for him, she’s praying also for herself.

Let the wife intercede for her man.

2. The wife can advise him as no one else can.

She is an expert on this man. She knows what makes him tick. In advising him, she has no axe to grind, no agenda to push. She loves him and wants only his best.

God told Israel to pray for their cities because “as it prospers you will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7).  In much the same way, when God blesses the pastor and he does well, everyone benefits: the church becomes healthy, the pastor’s family does well, and his wife’s lot is vastly improved.

3. The wife can admonish him as no one else can.

Rebuking a pastor can be a risky thing.

Sometimes a wife has to deliver the bad news to her man.  “You were wrong.”  “Honey, you were out of line.”  “You need to apologize to him.”

As no one else can, she can call him back to earth and speak the unvarnished truth in love.

4. She can encourage him as no one else can.

She knows his hurts and sees his pain. She feels his fatigue and knows about his sleepless nights.  His pain is hers.  And because she understands him as no one else does, she can lift him up like no one else.

Because she is also his lover, she can comfort him with her arms, her sweetness, her touch, her kisses.  She knows when he needs to be left alone and when would be the best time to make that delicious blueberry cobbler he loves so much.

5. She can protect him.

To give him a little peace, Pastor’s wife Rita answers his cell phone from the minute he enters the house until he leaves.  If the call is important, she hands the preacher the phone. Otherwise, she takes messages or relays them.  Pastor’s wife Jerilyn insisted early in their marriage that one day a week would belong to the two of them, no matter where they pastored. By holding to that, she has blessed her husband’s ministry and enhanced their marriage.

Some pastors are hesitant to take the rest they deserve and need.  The wife can see that he gets it.

Pastor’s wife Maggie protects her husband from temptation by loving him and treating him as her lover.

6. She can enhance his ministry and make him more effective.

When Margaret found that my “primary love language,” as taught by Judson Swihart in “How Do You Say I Love You?”, was “being on the same side,” she began doing all she could to support my pastoral ministry. At various times, she taught a Sunday School class, more than once team-teaching alongside me.  She led “Experiencing God” classes, worked with drama teams, and even ran a television camera.  She encouraged me to invite committees to meet in our home where she served as hostess.

As a result, the congregation came to a greater appreciation of my wife, of our home, and of the ministry to which God had called me.

7. But there is another side. She can hurt him as no one else in the church can.

She’s “in close.” The husband drops his guard when he’s at home.  If a wife misuses her closeness with him, she can wound him severely and destroy his effectiveness. By calling him demeaning names (“Stupid” or even using profanity), by accusing him of sin (“I saw you making eyes at someone in the choir”), and by speaking of him disparagingly to church members, she may destroy his confidence and ruin his ministry.

In one church with which I am familiar, choir members could look into the congregation and see the pastor’s wife with the scowl on her face.  The look she gave her preacher husband as he tried to expound the Word of God radiated pure disgust.  To no one’s surprise, their marriage did not last.  At last report, the former pastor was out of the ministry altogether and working at the newspaper.

True, no one but the two of them knows what went on between them, but to this observer, the preacher was brought down by the very person who should have been his champion, his wife.

8. She can interfere as no one else can.

Any member can cause trouble in a church, but the pastor’s wife is perfectly situated to cause the greatest disruptions if she chooses. That’s why she has to exercise great care in the things she says and in whom she confides .

Woe to the pastor whose wife prides herself on her plain-spokenness. “If I think it, I say it,” said one.  Not good.

Let the pastor’s wife pray the prayer of Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard upon my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

9. She can help him relax and laugh.

There is a time to discuss heavy matters about the disobedient children and the broken furnace, and a time to lay them aside. There is a time to complain about some matter the preacher-husband promised to do but has forgotten, and a time to put it on the back burner.

One of the hardest things a wife will ever do is to stifle the urge to unload on him when he enters the house.  She has been dealing with the problems all day by herself, and finally he is home.  Except–as she is to learn quickly enough–he’s not “all there” yet.  Give him time.  Let him unwind.  Be his lover, his sweetheart, his best friend and confidante.

10. She can help him pick out his clothes!

When I asked Facebook friends for their suggestions, I was surprised by this one. But it’s true.  As I write, only yesterday, I found myself wondering about “this tie with that shirt.”  Margaret, now in Heaven, would have told me in a heartbeat. (Probably without even being asked!) That’s one of only ten thousand things I miss about her.

Some wife reading this is thinking, “All right.  He needs these things, true enough. But what about me? I need some things too.”

You certainly do.  But that’s one reason we urge you to pull together a few other ministers’ wives and discuss this.  You cannot pull this off without the counsel of wiser and more experienced women who have walked this road before you.

Whether you get with other wives or try to go it alone, there is one overwhelming essential you cannot and must not miss.  You must draw your strength from the Lord Jesus Christ each day of your life.  You cannot exist on the spirituality of your preacher husband.  You must not try to do this in your own strength.

I leave with you the verse above all verses which ought to have the pastors’ wives’ names on it. This one is all yours, precious sister in the Lord…

Not that we are adequate (sufficient) to think anything of ourselves; but our adequacy (sufficiency) is of God. (2 Corinthians 3:5)



Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist and the retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Currently he loves to serve as a speaker/pulpit fill for revivals, prayer conferences, deacon trainings, leadership banquets and other church events. Visit him and enjoy his insights on nearly 50 years of ministry at JoeMcKeever.com.

Browse All

Related Preaching Articles

Talk about it...

Lafern Cobb

commented on Aug 4, 2015

I have a question? Is Sermon Central for Clergymen only? Or is Sermon Central here to help Clergywomen also? This is important because I have many other excellent sources to gain information. I find Sermon Central to be demeaning to husbands of Clergywomen. These 10 points fit husbands of Pastors too, but these good men are completely ignored. Husbands of Pastors should have been included in this article. They also face challenges and they are a fast growing group in the church. I am sure husbands would appreciate this article on how they can help their wives who are Pastors. If Sermon Central is for ALL ministry then please stop ignoring these wonderful men who support their wives who lead and Pastor the Church.

Sherri Comer-Cox

commented on Aug 4, 2015

T Thank you for responding on behalf of clergywomen and their spouses. I have had a difficult time finding resources for my husband.

Patrice Marker-Zahler

commented on Aug 4, 2015

Here we go again with one more of Joe's sexist view of what church should look like and what his interpretation of the Bible should look like. Thank God, he had has a better view of women and find no difference in spiritual duties between male and female. Paul reaffirms this many times over. My husband and I will continue by the Bible and not Joe's idea of what church should look like and who should what kind of duties.

Ralph Jenkins

commented on Aug 4, 2015

Y ou are both proving yourselves as not worthy of the call you claim to have. A little love, grace, and humility please

Ralph Jenkins

commented on Aug 4, 2015

Really, your upset over an article that didn't mention husbands of Clergywomen. It's a great article and any man can make the necessary application if ha so desires. If you are truly called by God something so trivial should not even matter. Lafern Cobb don't take what is a very encouraging article and kill it with snide comments. It's not about you or your husband or me and my wife. It's about encouraging those who stand the closest to the pastor.,

Dave Rowser

commented on Aug 4, 2015

Joe did and excellent job. His points are accurate and applicable. I hope that these women who serve in the ministry with their husbands will earnestly read this and take it to heart it will make a difference. As for those who are critical of this article I propose that you read his preface prior to point one. Also, many of these points are applicable for any spouse and minister. Blessings everyone.

Meagan Gillan

commented on Aug 4, 2015

So Joe, why not simply write your comments so apply to ministry spouses of both genders? I've been a ministry spouse for 38 years, and have both a son and a son-in-law who are fantastic ministry spouses, and as I read your article, anything you said could apply to all three of us. In my experience, inclusion trumps exclusion every time.

Mike Fogerson

commented on Aug 4, 2015

Wow! I wish these ladies were my shepherd, not. All this rage over pronouns? Take what you need and leave the rest from the article, ladies. Grow up, please. ,

Mike Fogerson

commented on Aug 4, 2015

I was out of line with the "grow up" remark. I'm sorry, sister pastors.

Elvis Darko

commented on Aug 4, 2015

I am grateful to God for this article, i am a pastor and for year i always face more than the 10 areas which has been mentioned, I have kept this secret to myself waiting to get someone to advise her, at a point in time I decided to close the church because of her wrong imaginations and approach to issues as a pastors wife, but this article speaks more which i think can help her and many other pastor?s wife?s to know how to comport themselves. I will also wish that someone will get connected to her to coach her to live an expected life as a pastor?s wife and not fighting members in the church. Etc. any helper can write to me personally through fevangelisticministry@yahoo.com.

Stephanus Karnadhi

commented on Aug 4, 2015

Thank you, Joe. This is a much needed article. Not many teacher will address pastor's/clergy's wife, its rare. You have made a contribution for the Church. I hope ministers who read this, will remember that we are called to build the Body of Christ not to critize. Joe has made his effort to do help ministers. Nobody can make an article which cover all people. Those who have a burden on certain issues should write something good like this one and not just critizing. Public writing takes its toll. So many people to think about in a limited space of writing. Be encourgaed to write more, Joe. So glad you are still ministering after 50 years!

John Sears

commented on Aug 4, 2015

Why did I know that the inevitable "you should have included women as pastors in your article" was going to come up in the comments? I'm not exaggerating when I say it happens every single time an article is written targeting men who are pastors (which is the norm.) Ladies who are pastors. I'm not challenging your value in ministry or even your calling. How about instead of complaining that you are being ignored, you write an article or blog for women pastors instead. Certainly you have some helpful advice to give. Thanks.

Cheryle Spicer

commented on Aug 5, 2015

My husband and I are co-pastors of our church. I remember being assigned to participate in the Billy Graham School of Evangelism and being criticized by a group of pastor's wives for being a pastor! Wow was it an eye opener. My husband and I have been called to preach the Gospel. We are a team. And no matter if one is called or both just like everything else in our marriage we pray together, support one another, encourage one another, and use the gifts that God has given us to advance His Kingdom. My husband is the spiritual head of our home. When you are equally yoked there are very few times after 35 years of marriage where there has been a problem. Praise God!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Aug 10, 2015

To those who claim women can be pastors, please explain 1 Timothy 2:11-3:7. And please don't try to tell me that was for Paul's day only! That doesn't fly. Every time God changes something He tells us He did and why, (i.e. why we are no longer under the Sabbath). So go to it, please explain what God meant when He gave these instructions to Paul.

Join the discussion