Pastor Friend, Lift Up Your Wife

Pastor friend, lift up your wife before the heavenly throne.

Grant Swank is pastor of the New Hope Church in 'Windham ME He is married to Priscilla and they have three children—Crystal, Jay, and Heidi. He, a chocoholic, enjoys his family, He also is into watercolor painting, walking and taking in all the Maine scenery he can get.

Pastor friend, lift up your wife before the heavenly throne. Your wife frequently puts up with frustrations unique to her position in church life. For example, there are times when you are criticized as pastor; those barbs may be unfair. You may be led of the Lord to deal with such injustices in a forthcoming sermon. That in itself gives you a certain personal release from the tension build-up due to the injustice.

However, think of your wife's reaction toward those who unfairly criticize your ministry. You, after all, are her husband; she does not like the unreasonable criticism concerning your dedication. Yet she does not have a pulpit from which to deliver a sermon. She has only her kitchen sink! However, she does want to defend you, point out how you were not understood, how you were misinterpreted. How can she vent her frustrations? Probably in no practical way.

Therefore, lift up your wife in thanksgiving to God for her being such a sensitive helpmate. She ministers alongside you, but frequently having to be silent when she would like to speak freely, openly about crucial matters. Let her know that you, at least, understand.

Other times the children in your home are said to do something they did not do, or say something they did not say, or behave in a certain manner which was misjudged. Those children live in that "fish bowl" called "pastor's home" seven days a week. Too many eyes are on them; they grow up with this surveillance —no let-up.

At times you can lose yourself in your pastor's study or in visiting pastor friends or attending a civic event. You can lose yourself in a sport or hobby that is not directly related to the family. However, your wife is left to work out that situation in which your daughter and son were unfairly criticized. She is left with hearing them out in the living room after am upsetting school day. She is left with trying to put pieces together.

Therefore, lift up your wife for the Lord's new-day strength to be hers as a mother to your children. She probably spends more hours with them than you are able to. Therefore, she needs your intercession for her day-by-day wisdom to be increased. Let her know that you take note of her careful motherliness to your children.

Sometimes the pastor's wife has a difficult time making ends meet. There is only so much she can do with that "stretched dollar." Yet the children keep coming home with another five dollars needed for this, a ten dollar bill needed for that. Medical bills mount up. Unexpected expenses interfere. She cannot take from the grocery money forever!

Where can she come upon an extra dollar or two? Can she find a part-time job outside the home? Does she have enough hours and energy to see that through along with being a minister's wife and overseeing the home? At times, it can be especially grating to have to live on the salary that a pastor makes. Yet she tries not to complain for she understands that the gospel work is going ahead because your family is dedicated to ministry.

Therefore, lift up your wife for heaven's economic miracles to bless her efficient efforts. And he more vigilant yourself in not over spending. Work out that family budget together. Is there some way that the financial weight can be carried more evenly by both of you? Talk to her about it.

Sometimes the thought may come to your wife that she did not decide on this ministry call after all. You are the one who was called, not her. The devil can twist her mind some­times so as to get her out-of-sorts, depressed. This can occur so subtly that she is not aware of what is happening. However, you note that a discouragement has settled upon her daily duties. She feels as if she is going to implode.

Your wife may look at other wives in the congregation who do not have the home phone ringing off the hook with church problems clamoring for attention. She thinks how fortunate those women are in that their husbands are home evenings, not out to one more church function. And she may also ponder that the parishioners' homes are not "fish bowls." They have the privacy she yearns for but cannot have.

Therefore, lift up your wife in prayer to God for His joy to return to her heart, for fresh happiness to bless her activities each day. Then let her know how much you appreciate all that she does, how well that she does it, and how you could not see through the ministry without her dedication. You could also plan a get-away for the two of you—far from the phone.

Another frustration may be her loneliness. There are so many details that the minister's wife must keep confidential. She cannot talk about these private specifics of other's lives. But she is pained by them. She cries over them. She prays for these individuals.

However, who is there to pray for her? Who listens to her sufferings? Who cares about her loneliness or even detects she is in fact lonely? After all, she smiles. She prays. She laughs. She gives. She enjoys life. At least, that is what the church folk have concluded about your wife. That is because she is a giver and a server. She is going to try her best to live out the Christian hope and happiness—especially in front of the parishioners.

Nevertheless, she is also quite human, just as all the rest of us. And so she has that empty vacuum to deal with. There is that island on which she resides. She has no trustworthy confidant. There is no woman friend nearby with whom she can open up. Perhaps in another pastorate it was different; but where she is now, she is very much alone.

You in your busyness may not be sensitive to this. It is because she does not ,.ant to worry you and the children so she hides her loneliness even from you. After all, she has always considered herself strong and able to confront life's difficulties with a certain reserve. Therefore, she does not want to admit even to herself that she feels very much alone, undone, at wits' end.

However, what could you do if she did open up to you, telling you that she is quite spent in the work? How would you react? Would you conclude that she is weak, over­reacting, just going through "a phase"? Or would you listen, under­stand and then try to fill in her vacuum with some varied agenda? There are plans that you have had in the hack of your imagination that you were going to set in place for the two of you. Then why not activate them right now? Your wife may need all that—now.

Therefore, lift up your wife, not only in prayer, but also in love—practical love. Do something different. Go someplace different. Eat out for breakfast more often, after the children have gone off to school. Vary the evening schedule; get a baby-sitter more frequently for those little ones. Consolidate some church meetings so that they are not spread out over every week night.

These days are complicated. Church life is becoming increasingly more difficult with the complex attacks from a complex world. Therefore, special attention must he given by you to your consecrated wife. She really is trying her best. But she needs you to say that you note that, that you thank God for her, that you are going to help her deal with the unique life of a pastor's wife.

Reassure her that she is not alone in all of this. You are not only her husband; you are indeed her best friend. Then see through best-friend sharing in its most daily, practical persistence.

Heaven will bless you for lifting up your wife—now.

Grant Swank is pastor of the New Hope Church in 'Windham ME He is married to Priscilla and they have three children—Crystal, Jay, and Heidi. He, a chocoholic, enjoys his family, He also is into watercolor painting, walking and taking in all the Maine scenery he can get.