FOR 30 YEARS I’VE LOVED listening to my husband preach, but, as he knows, after hearing hundreds of his sermons, I sometimes have a few ideas for how he could make a good sermon even better.
Most of the time, I keep my thoughts on improving his preaching to myself. After all, I’m not a theologian or a practiced pastor. But one Sabbath,
as Steve and I were driving home from church, he asked, “So what did you think of the sermon?” I replied with an honest answer that focused exclusively on several points of improvement.
That day I learned that “sermonic improvement ideas” from a wife’s perspective may be better received by our pastor husbands if we mingle “the
bad with the good.” It may even help, for the sake of our spouses, to put a little time between the sermon and the critique. Maybe wait until after Sabbath lunch before sharing our well-intended tips?
I have a feeling that if you’ve been a pastor’s wife for even a short season, you have sometimes disagreed with your husband when he is in the pulpit or you are both out in public. What do you do? Does your husband really need a critique from his wife? Should you stuff your concerns or pipe up? I asked some seasoned pastors’ wives for their thoughts and advice on this topic.
Many pastors’ wives said they would talk with their husbands upon returning home if they couldn’t let it go. One thoughtful wife said that “if” her
husband asked for feedback, she would sandwich the negative with two good points. Many said they pray for their husbands when they are in the pulpit. Another insightful idea was to examine our own emotions first to see what the motive for our discomfort is. If legitimate, then approach the husband from that place rather than with criticism.
Sometimes pastors’ wives with young children (and maybe not so young) feel that their husbands are preaching too long. One wife says she taps her watch to let her husband know if he is dragging. Renee mentioned that she once gave her husband the “cut-off sign,” and he called her out from the pulpit! She said the congregation loved it; however, she will never do that again. Yet another pastoral couple has an agreedupon sign to wrap up a topic if they are making each other uncomfortable.
More thoughts on this topic can be found in the little book I’m More Than the Pastor’s Wife by Lorna Dobson. “Poor timing, for instance, bugging one’s husband about a minor detail immediately following a service when he needs quiet, will only contribute to the wearing down of his spirit.”
Lorna also tells how she wanted to correct her husband’s grammatical weaknesses in his sermons; however, he seldom applied her corrections. In time, some of the church members (who had graduate degrees in language) sometimes chose to correct him. She discovered
that he was more likely to take it from them than from her when she sounded like “constant dripping on a rainy day” (Proverbs 27:15).
Perhaps you are always in perfect harmony with your preacher. If not, I hope some of these thoughts will give you a fresh perspective on how to pray and support the man whom God has called you to stand beside. Blessings to each one of you as you serve so beautifully. I appreciate you all.