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The pastor’s wife

February 2006 | by Peter Trumper

Her husband has been trained for his task, spending years anticipating the future and the likely problems he will encounter. In other words, much thought and many prayers will have gone into his preparation.

His wife, on the other hand, is unlikely to be in that position – seldom being trained for the role and having entered her husband’s ministry through marriage and from an unrelated environment.

Of course, there are exceptions, but usually she possesses a number of disadvantages when she steps into the pastoral context for the first time. Not least is the fact that everything will be new, probably even her husband! If he is nervous to begin with, how much more will she be.

Seeking a role

At first, she may feel uneasy in a new and unusual situation, not understanding what her role actually is. Nobody has told her. Is she expected to play only a quiet part, centred in the home, or is she also to feature prominently in church life? Is she just one of the women, or, as the pastor’s wife, their leader? Who exactly is’the wife of the minister’?

If she asks her husband, more than likely he will have no idea! Strangely, his college course did not cover this important topic, nor was his future wife even mentioned – except in terms of a warning not to marry her during training!

In any case, the newness of hissituation, and inexperience in coping with the problems already surfacing, will be as much as he can cope with. In short, from day one she jumps into the deep end.

Needless to say, Satan will harass her, creating unrest, frustration, perhaps even depression. Is she doing the right thing in the right way? She wants so much to be of use to the Lord and an asset to her husband, not letting either down.

She is ‘the pastor’s wife’ (a daunting realisation) and not an ordinary housewife. Everyone is watching – observing her godliness, her example, her efficiency as a wife, her capabilities as a mother, her practical abilities within church life, and her appearance (neither ostentatious nor drab, 1 Peter 3:1-6).

A warning required

However, one thing she is certainly not- she is most definitely not the assistant pastor, nor superior gentry ‘to the manor born’. A woman who seeks such roles is a stain on the local church and a defect in its life and witness.

If only such women had been warned about this at the beginning – and they are more plentiful than one might realise. It is both embarrassing and wrong for a ‘living minister’ (to borrow Spurgeon’s phrase) to find his wife leading from the front rather than consoling from behind.

She must have noinfluence – even from behind the manse door – upon official church business discussed and determined by church officers.

An honoured position

What, then, isthe role of the wife of the man of God? It is primarilydomestic, despite what feminists say to the contrary! A woman’s God-given gifts are seen to best advantage when ‘she looketh well to the ways of her household’, as the Scripture reminds us. Rooted in domesticity, how active and influential a ‘virtuous woman’ can be (Proverbs 31:10-31)!

Yet, she will find time for other activities (godly women invariably do) – not seeking prominence and position but encouraging, strengthening and comforting others. What better witness to the grace of God, than a quietly humble Christian lady influencing those around her by secret prayer and a Christ-like example – encouraging her husband, working alongside the women of the church, advising the younger ones, visiting the sick and the elderly and instructing the children?

Such a lady is precious to the Lord who called her, to his servant who married her and to the church privileged to have her in its midst.