Most married preachers are very aware of the value their wives bring to the table, both in everyday life and in the difficult situations that arise in the lives of preachers and their families. However, as is often the case with men, we can become so caught up in the job, the family, and the other responsibilities of life that we forget to communicate the most important things that the preacher’s wife (and any wife for that matter) needs to hear. Consider three things every preacher should say to his wife.
Thank-you. This is not a thank-you for passing the potatoes, or for the normal things for which everyone should make the statement; this is a far deeper thanks. You see, the preacher’s wife has to make many sacrifices because of the job of her husband. There may be people over at the house at the most inopportune time; there may be a different time schedule for how everything needs to be done each day of the week. Yet the preacher’s wife adjusts to the demands on her husband’s time and works hard to help things go as smoothly as possible.
Many of the preacher’s wives I know would accurately be classified as a “Proverbs 31 wife.” It is the kind of wife every man needs, but such is especially true of the preacher. Oftentimes the preacher does not have the most comfortable salary, and generally it does not come with any real expectation of a great change in pay scale over the years. So a preacher’s wife who works hard to live within the means of the family, to give her best to both husband and children, and who works every day to make the lives of her family the best they can be needs to hear thanks for those many wonderful efforts on a regular basis. This was an area I fell short on early in our marriage (and in my preaching career, since they began at essentially the same time) but I quickly learned just how important it was, and what an impact it had on the mind-set and outlook of my wife. Do not squander opportunities to give thanks to your wife, she has earned it and deserves it
I need your help. Eve is described as a “help meet” (a helper suitable) for Adam (Gen. 2:18). The wife of any man is intended by God to be his helper, his associate, his closest and most prized assistant. As much as many preachers like to talk about the fact that when the preacher is hired the congregation is not hiring the family as well, there are many ways in which the preacher, without his wife, would be far less effective if she were not present. In our household, my wife and I talk constantly about my work. While there are certainly some things that occur to which even she is not privy, the daily affairs of my work are a continual topic of discussion. She is my sounding board for sermons and Bible class lessons, often times having heard the most difficult or vivid material before it is ever presented to the congregation. She is my most trusted advisor in areas pertaining to our family and our relationship to those in the congregation. She is also my lifeline in those times when things get difficult and those gloomy weeks come where all is not going right.
Some men (yes, even some preachers) are full of pride and arrogance and believe that they can take care of everything themselves and never need any help. But the wise preacher recognizes (if he has chosen a wife wisely) that he has a helper who is there for him, who desires to help and assist him wherever she can, and who is simply waiting to hear that phrase before jumping in on his behalf and for his benefit.
I’m sorry. Again, this is not simply referencing the willingness to apologize about those things which commonly occur in every marriage and which every man should be loving, caring, and humble enough to recognize and fix. The wife of the preacher faces a very special set of circumstances that are often difficult and trying as the preacher labors with a congregation. Among them are the difficulties that arise in making close and trusted friends in the congregation. Oftentimes the preacher and his family are from an area outside of the location in which he works, therefore they are perceived as outsiders to many in the congregation. Hence, there is automatically a disconnect between the preacher’s wife and the other ladies in the congregation; this is often made worse by who her husband is and the caution that is then extended toward her because of it. This does not even include the times where she hears things about her family or her husband that are insensitive, unfair, and hurtful. Though there is very little to nothing the preacher can do about such situations, recognition of the feelings of his wife and the struggles she endures becoming a part of the congregation must be remembered and acknowledged.
Additionally, the life of a preacher is always in a state of flux. Plans get moved, changed, or cancelled at a moment’s notice, the phone rings at dinnertime requiring immediate attention, very rarely are there ever two weeks that go by the same way. While this ensures that life is never boring in the house, it also ensures that the wife always has to adapt to a new situation that has arisen. Again, the preacher cannot change the situation, he is essentially on call 24/7; but he must be one who communicates to his wife his recognition of the difficulties the job brings and the added stress and pressure it places upon her and the family.
If preachers will regularly communicate these things to their wives, it can make a vast difference in the daily workings of life and marriage. It is just as difficult to live the life of a preacher’s wife as it is to be a preacher. Let us never underestimate the value of a good preacher’s wife, the daily impact she has on the preacher’s life, or the daily impact he can have on hers if he will but communicate it.