My husband is a pastor-slash-missionary-slash-church planter-slash-Bible teacher. And he has been this since I married him over 13 years ago. He has always known what his job is. God made that very clear to him and Scripture also defines it in detail.
But the question that I have been asking for the past 13 years is – “What is my role as his wife?” How do I live out the type of “help meet” that God calls women to be in Genesis 2:18? I definitely haven’t come up with an exhaustive list by any means. But here are a few of my thoughts:
1. The New Testament has a list for the qualities of an elder, but it doesn’t have a list for the qualities of his wife. This doesn’t mean that we as wives disregard this list. It would actually be very wise to live out this list because we know that we are an example to the people that our husband is leading. But it also means that there are no grounds for undo pressure that is placed on you from members of your congregation or yourself to fulfil a certain role in the church. (Though a good case could be made that the four qualities mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:11 about a deacon’s wife would apply to the pastor’s wife as well.)
2. As previously stated, it would be wise to acknowledge that our lives will be watched and scrutinised by the people in our husband’s church. We should strive to be an example of godly character, spiritual maturity, and faith in God.
3. We should study, understand and embrace the lists in the Bible that God has for all women in Christ, i.e. Proverbs 31, 1 Timothy 5:14, Titus 2:1-5, 1 Timothy 2:9-15, Ephesians 5:22-24 God wants us to grow in our knowledge of Him and His will for our lives as a wife and mother, not just the wife of a ministry leader. He wants us to be confident in our role, knowing we are fulfilling the purpose He has for us. The only way we will know these things is by learning it from His Word!
4. We should allow ourselves some grace in different stages of life. When I had young babies, there was a limit to how much I could do outside of the home. Now that my children are getting older, I have more time to give to the ministries of our church. And maybe someday, when I have an empty nest, I’ll have even more time. But in the meantime, I truly believe that it’s not God’s desire for us to be filled with guilt over how much or how little time we can give to the church ministry.
5. We should realise that God has given different women various talents and abilities that we may or may not possess. I am not an artsy person. Decorations and crafts drive my blood pressure up. So I’ll never be the pastor’s wife with the most beautifully decorated ladies banquet hall. That used to bother me. But I’ve learned that God has never said that it is a requirement for the pastor’s wife to be good at decorating. In fact, it is not a requirement to be musical, organised, perfect, an eloquent speaker, outgoing, academically smart, or a good cook. I think we are harder on ourselves than God is on us. Stop comparing yourself to other ministry leader’s wives who you think are perfect. They would not be perfect for your husband and his ministry. Only you are!
6. There are at least 2 things in the list of qualities of an elder/bishop/pastor in 1 Timothy 3 that would involve his wife. “Given to hospitality” and “ruleth well his own house” are qualities that definitely involve the wife. These are things that we as wives should commit to helping our husband to accomplish. When your husband wants to invite people to your house, make it possible! When your husband is striving to be a good spiritual leader to you and the kids, let him!
7. Sometimes my “helping” my husband in the ministry is not helpful to him. When I keep myself so busy “doing ministry” that I don’t have time to iron his clothes, then I’m not helping him. When I am disrespectful to him in front of church members about a church issue, then I’m not helping him. When I don’t leave money in the budget for hospitality, then I’m not helping him. When I don’t arrive on time to church, then I’m not helping him. When I don’t work our family routine around church events, then I’m not helping him. When I don’t sort out a situation at church the way he has asked me to, then I’m not helping him. Instead, we should be constantly discussing with our husband how he would like us to help him. Our ideas might be different from his. Let him guide you in the ways that would better help him and the ministry.
8. We should be in love with God’s Word and getting fresh inspiration from it daily. As godly women, we should be pointing people to God’s Word. So many people around us are in need of the Truth poured into their lives: our husbands, our children, the ladies in the church, our friends, our colleagues. Every woman should be doing this, but how much more should a ministry leader’s wife be growing in her intimacy with Christ!
9. We should be content in the field/ministry where God has placed our husband and realise that it’s ok that it is different from someone else’s. I have friends doing church work all over the world. I have often become discontent with my husband’s ministry by watching my friends do things differently. This is not God’s plan for me. He has uniquely designed me to help my husband exactly where He put him. Other ministries in other places are going to be very different from ours. No two ministries or churches will ever be exactly the same. It is foolish to let that steal your joy.
The ministry is hard work, but it is so rewarding. I hope you are enjoying your ministry where you are. I hope you can understand that there is not “one perfect” way to be the wife of a ministry leader. Be the woman God has created you to be and own it. Love Him and your husband. You are doing a wonderful work.