“None know how grateful I am to God for you. In all I have ever done for Him, you have a large share, for making me so happy you have fitted me for service. I have served the Lord far more and never less for your sweet companionship.” (Charles Spurgeon, in a letter written to his wife dated 1871)
Incalculable is the God-given helpmeet to the man of God who occupies the office of pastor. Her prayers with and for him, her unflinching support of him and his ministry, her watchful waiting with him for souls and for sheep who are suffering, straying or staggering under the weight of life’s cares is worth more than words are able to capture. Happy is that under shepherd who labors with a godly, spiritual wife serving alongside of him, laboring mostly without recognition or reward, but always with wisdom, grace, compassion and concern often in a way that her husband, loving as he may be, can never duplicate because of his peculiar and particular calling and constraints.
There is one person in our church, Who knows our pastor’s life Who weeps and smiles and prays with him, And that’s the Pastor’s wife. You tell your tales of prophets brave, Who marched across the world, And changed the course of history By burning words they hurled. And I will tell how back of each Some woman lived her life, Who wept with him and smiled with him— She was the Pastor’s wife! (Unknown)
Another sage, whose name to me is unknown, praised these special gifts from God:
“Her gifts and talents make you look good, or at least, better. Your wife can stretch an ordinary Tater Tots casserole to feed six unexpected dinner guests; work full-time putting her husband through seminary; save her husband’s dignity by choosing his clothing; send out thank you notes in a timely fashion with his perfectly forged signature; spend forty hours in hard labor delivering your children then as much time in the doctor’s office wiping runny noses; never threaten to divorce you over that vacation at Ralph’s Fish Emporium, Kamp Ground and Cart-A-Rama; puts up with her mother-in-law’s helpful advice on child rearing and talks you out of resigning at least once a month.”
Years ago, I read a tribute to Pastor’s wives published in a Christian magazine. It reads:
“I am the Preacher’s wife. I am the woman who proudly sits in the shadows as her husband stands in the light. I am the one who knows her husband is a gift from God, and so I give him back to my Lord through his full-time service. Often times, I am so lonely for him because I share him with others. But I am also pleased that he gives himself so unselfishly.
I am the one who encourages the preacher when others fail to. I am the one who listens to his dreams for the church and helps him to look into the future and see his dreams become a reality.
And when others wonder if he really cares, I am the one who sees him on his knees, shedding tears for the future of the Lord’s church.
I am the woman who so often hears flattering phrases. At times, I am treated with such loving kindness. The kindness you show me makes it all worthwhile. It keeps me going when I feel like quitting. But I am also the woman who often hears unkind remarks. My heart can be broken, just as yours can. But I am the one who has to learn to smile at the ugly things that are said. I have to pick up the broken pieces of my heart and forgive, even when forgiveness is not asked of me.
Yes, world! I have my ups and downs, just as you do. And there are times when I, too, feel like quitting. I need your tenderness and your encouragement to keep on keeping on. As I give my husband, my child, my home and myself to the Lord, I am the woman who is happy to sit back in the shadows. I am the preacher’s wife.”
It has been this pastor’s privilege to have served local churches now for more than half a century, and, by the mercies of our great God, every day in service has been with the custom- made help meet by my side that God granted to me before I accepted the call to pastor that first congregation in Wichita, Kansas in 1971. Her name is Ellen and her heart and hands have steadied me throughout this fabulous journey. Some time ago Ellen put on paper reasons why she considered it a joyful privilege to be in ministry as a pastor’s wife. Here they are:
- Because this is that which God has called me to do.
- Because I can be totally involved in work that the Lord thinks is important. We know that He died for the church, and it is the only institution He left to carry on His work.
- I can be intimately involved in the life of people. I have many opportunities to share the gospel.
- I have been the recipient of many kind acts because we are in ministry.
- It has been my privilege to have shown hospitality to some of the greatest people in the world and many have become close friends.
- Fellow believers pray for me because we are in the ministry.
- I can share in the most important moments in a family’s life which is the birth or adoption of their children, marriages and deaths.
- My children were reared in a good environment.
- Because I am respected as a leader.
- Because I have the privilege of taking care of God’s servant.
“Who can find virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.” (Proverbs 31:10,11)