Dear Abigail

What should I do if I feel that my pastor husband is in need of a spiritual revival?

Dear Abigail,

What should I do if I feel that my pastor husband is in need of a spiritual revival?

I don't want to judge his personal relationship with the Lord, but as a mom who spends a lot of time at home, I know his schedule quite well. From what I can see, he does not commit much time to personal Bible study and prayer outside of sermon preparation (which is not much time some weeks). We don't have a consistent schedule for worship and prayer as a family. When we do worship or pray together as a family, it seems that I am the one to initiate it most times.

I want my husband to be the spiritual head of our home regardless of his profession, but it makes me all the more frustrated when there are days he has had prayer with members of the church and not members of his family. I know I need to pray about this a lot more because I feel myself getting bitter sometimes—and that doesn't make for a great attitude. Perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way.

I'm not sure what to do. I just want our family to be saved in God's kingdom, and I know that comes from accepting God's sacrifice and having a real relationship with Him. Please advise.

Thank you,

Wisdom Wanted

Dear Wisdom Wanted,

I think every pastor’s wife (PW) can relate to your ques­tion on some level, even if it's only for periods of time in between spiritual vibrance. It's understandable to feel bit­ter or frustrated when our pastor husbands (PHs)—who are supposed to be spiritual leaders to everyone else—drop the ball at home. After all, no matter who they pastor “out there,” they are first and foremost the husbands and fathers and priests of our homes. It is a good thing that you are sensitive to your family's need for spiritual growth.

The way we live our lives indicates our priorities, and our children are the first to be able to identify what our real priorities are (versus what we say they are). It’s true that our PHs spend a lot of time in “spiritual matters,” but they will become more successful in every area of their lives if they spend quality personal and family time in worship and prayer. Obviously, you already recognize this, or you wouldn't be longing for more.

Is your PH burnt out in ministry from working too hard and not staying balanced with his rest, exercise, and family time? Is he only holding it together for his public ministry and then letting it collapse at home because he's over­whelmed? Have you/he recently weathered a crisis that has left him dried up in his relationship with God?

Or is his personality quiet and laid-back, where after spending his days talking and listening to others he has nothing left to say at home? If your personality is more bub­bly and talkative, he might be perfectly willing to just let you lead at home since he is outside his comfort zone all day every day—and he might have no idea that it bothers you or that he is letting down his family.

Whatever the reason, the first thing to do is pray for your PH. Ask God to work on his heart, and on yours too, so that you'll have a Christlike spirit when you communicate about it. When the time is right to bring it up, try expressing your concern and asking if he would pray with you about where the Lord is leading your family spiritually. If you seek God together, it might be a smoother transition than if you take the lead or verbalize criticism.

Build him up in front of your kids, and make sure he can hear you when you do. Tell the kids how lucky they are to have such a great dad, or get them involved in doing some­thing special for him. If it works best for you and your fam­ily's personality, get the whole family to show support for daddy as the well-respected priest of the home. Your chil­dren will naturally mirror your attitude of respect or disdain for their father.

Here's the advice of two seasoned PWs:

1. Pray for your husband. We know our husbands like no one else. We know their schedules and their “comings and goings,” but we cannot know their hearts like God does. Our prayers on our PH’s behalf will guard us from becoming overly judgmental and will assure us that the Holy Spirit is working. Pray for his spiritual well-being and that God will convict him to lead more at home. Pray for creative, gentle ways to express your longing to him. Pray for your own response when he begins to try!

2. Talk to your husband. He may also be wishing things were different, or he might not even know how strongly you feel. Share how important it is to you that he initi­ates (versus putting him down or condemning him). Tell him how your admiration and respect for him grows when he leads at home. Tell him it's sexy when he takes charge. (And then be alert to when he does take charge and applaud him for it—whether it's exactly how you imagined it or not.)

3. Have your own devotions. When your PH sees you read­ing your Bible, hopefully he will eventually start thinking about reading his Bible as well. With small children you might be lucky to have 10 minutes a day in the Word, but try to aim for at least a little time each day—when your husband is home and can see you praying and reading. You can also try asking your PH to read and pray with you sometimes in the evening if he doesn't get home too late.

4. Keep up daily family worship. Usually it is possible to be all together in the morning around breakfast. You may have to keep initiating but also ask your PH if he has any new ideas he might like to try. (Being confrontational is usually not the answer.) Continue having evening wor­ship with the kids at bedtime and share with your hus­band the cute things that they say during prayers. Wor­ships don’t need to be long, dull services, just mean­ingful praise to God and simple spiritual instruction for the children. Including a song and prayer, 10 minutes is plenty. The habit of worshiping and praying together as a couple and family in the early years will likely prevent conflicts in later years. It’s a ritual worth cultivating!

5. Affirm his smallest attempts to take charge. If he tries to call the family for worship, gather the kids immediately and urge them to listen and respond to daddy—even if it is at an inconvenient time of day or isn't what you'd planned. Some men give up easily if their efforts to lead are ignored, rejected, or criticized. Leave the construc­tive comments for a few months down the road and re­joice when he tries to fulfill his role at home.

Remember, things may not get better right away (they may even get worse), but don't get discouraged. And by all means, when God works out a change in your family, let Abigail know so we can rejoice with you!

Dear Abigail is a new advice column where pastors’ wives can ask for biblical wisdom about their situations, challenges, and difficulties.In the Bible, Abigail was a woman known for her generosity, intuition, industry, discernment, hospitality, loyalty, strength, and wisdom. 

Dear Abigail is about learning to cultivate those same qualities as we journey in ministry with our husbands. Write to Dear Abigail at [email protected]