Friday, May 5, 2017

15 ways to be a blessing to your Pastor's wife (and a real-life application)

I have been thinking about writing this post for over two years, but have always shied away from it. By necessity, this post will be candid. Being a pastor's wife (PW) myself, I do not want to come across as directing points at anyone in particular, nor do I want to give the impression that being a pastor's wife is a burden. My husband and I are blessed by a church that has always made us feel loved, appreciated, and has held us in high regard. Thus, many of the points below do not apply to me in the first place.

But - the majority of my readers do not go to our church, therefore I am not their pastor's wife. These readers may be interested in and benefit from the "behind-the-scenes" points I and other PW's have gleaned without feeling like I am grinding some sort of personal ax.

Some time ago, I asked in a Facebook group for independent Baptist pastor's wives for ideas on 'how to be a blessing to your pastor's wife'. I was surprised how this topic was immediately picked up and eagerly commented on. It was obvious it had struck a chord with many of my fellow PWs.

In I Timothy 5, verse 2 the Bible advises us to treat "elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity." Without trying to be offensive or belittling, the closest thing I can compare pastoring to is that of raising a family. Some of the family members are more mature, and others are "babes in Christ". The pastor is the shepherd of this flock. In accordance with I Timothy 3, he is not even qualified to hold this position unless he is married to a godly Christian and has children that are in subjection. Ready or not, people look to the wife of the pastor for guidance and an example.

Yet, even as the Bible outlines specific requirements for deacons' wives (a deacon would be our modern-day assistant pastor) and for Christian women in general, it never lists any specific requirements or roles for the pastors' wives. I am sure they still apply - grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things - but I have to wonder if God did not make specific mention of them because He knew people would have high and sometimes unattainable expectations of their pastor's wife even without them being outlined in the Bible.

A pastor's wife, is, first and foremost a wife. Her first duty besides God is the same as that of all other wives - her husband, then the children, her household, and only after that outside obligations, which any work for church would fall under.

I am thankful that my husband does not expect me to do any work for church - zero - and never has. And while it is true that I do work for church every week, and did so even more in the past when my family was smaller and we did not have any staff to help, my contributions are voluntary. I am giving of my time and efforts just like other people in the church are, of their own free will as an offering unto the Lord, because we believe that doing so will benefit others, not because we 'have to.'

If you have a church that you love, and a pastor that preaches the truth and upholds the Bible whether it's popular or not, rest assured that they are fighting battles you will never see nor hear about. You can be an asset and a blessing, or a burden to your pastor, depending on your actions. One very effective way to be a blessing to him is by being a blessing to his wife and children. You can fill the cups of those who fill his cup, as it were, so that they in turn can pour out unto him and he back to the congregation by way of preaching, teaching, and his work in the church.

On that note, here are 15 ways  to be a blessing to your pastor's wife:


1. Pray for her and her family

One of the best ways to be a blessing to your pastor and his family is to pray for them, even if it is only a short prayer for protection and blessing. As a family, they face many trials that they will never talk about outside the home, but rest assured that pretty much at any given moment, they are facing a battle on some front.  Just knowing that other are always praying for them is a huge comfort.


2. Respect her husband

Don't make jokes or complain about her husband to her. If you loved the sermon, let her know. Don't criticize him or her kids to her or to others. If you have a legitimate concern, go to them first and give them a chance to give their side on an issue. If someone says hurtful things about their husbands or kids, it hurts PWs just like anyone else. Do not try to drive a wedge between her and her husband. In the same vein, do not put her in an awkward position by complaining about your husband/wife or kids to her, or airing your dirty laundry for shock value.

3. Send her notes of encouragement

You could let her know if you think she is doing a great job or otherwise encourage her. Text her every now and then just to tell her your praying for her. Don't expect a reply, but rest assured your message will put a smile on her face and brighten her day.

4. Don't expect her to be your BFF

As much as you may enjoy feeling like you are your PW's best friend, imagine how you would feel if you knew you weren't, and that someone else was. Even among a moderately-sized congregation, the PW would not have time to cultivate deep, exclusive friendships with some people without compromising her care and concern for others. For the benefit of all involved, you should not expect your PW to give you or anyone else "best friend" status. If you love spending time with her, the best way to be able to be around her is to offer to help her with the work around the church or her home, whether that's cleaning, decorating, or just showing up for a ladies’ event.
  

5. Realize she goes through different seasons in life

Like all of us, the wife of the pastor might go through seasons that are more challenging than others, especially if she is in her childbearing years. This could be due to sickness, pregnancy, financial stress, certain trials in the ministry, her children's ever-changing needs, marital strains, or a host of other reasons. She may be less available to help and counsel during these times than during others when she can give more freely of her time. Please do not take personal offense if your PW seems to be taking less of an interest during this time, or compare what she does for you to what she did for someone else at another time. 


6. Realize her time is limited

Even in a perfect world, when everything is going smoothly, your PW like all of us only has a certain amount of time each day. Respect her time. She's a mom and wife first and foremost. Don't expect that she can or wants to meet every need that you have. If everyone in the church called her every time they had a problem, she wouldn't be able to minister to her own family. Be respectful of their family time. They give so much time to the church - allow them to have their own family day (unless there is a major emergency). Most pastors try to take it easy on Mondays, as they are extra busy with church work on weekends and understandably exhausted.


7. Participate in activities she plans

If you can't or don't want to go, don't announce it loudly in an attempt to discourage others. If you have RSVP'ed for an activity, unless you have a truly compelling emergency, please be sure to show up, especially if it is one that costs money for each attendee like a field trip or tea party.


8. Do not stab her in the back

Go to her when you have a problem with her (or better yet, just get over it) - in either case don't just stand in the back and talk about her. Be her bulldog and stand up for her when others criticize her. Refuse to participate in trash-talking her or any of the other church members. Do not engage in drama. Always be the biggest cheerleader for the church, pastor and family. Lift them up rather than tear them down. Be friendly but respectful. Teach your children to call her Mrs. _______.


9. Find out her love language and show her love that way.

Remember her birthday and her children's birthdays, their wedding anniversary, and the church anniversary. Tell her if you think she is doing a good job. Thank her for things she does. Your PW might be one that likes to get hugs now and then, or she may really enjoy going out for a cup of coffee with you. On the other hand, she might be much too introverted for either of those ideas. You could find out what her favorite restaurants, grocery stores, or shops are and give gift cards. You could find out what her hobbies are and get her something she enjoys, like books, supplies, etc.This may seem carnal, but it might be the only time your PW can enjoy those things. 
 

10. Volunteer to help

Be zealous about volunteering when help is needed. Be the first to raise your hand. One huge area there are never enough volunteers for is cleaning.  If you see something in the church that needs done, maybe ask if you can do it. Help with all the small stuff without being asked - empty a trash can, wipe down a sink, replenish the coffee station. Share your ideas and be ready to work on projects together.


11. Make a meal for the family on a busy week

Remember they are church members too. Death, sickness, and surgeries come to the pastor's home too.  Understand that they are human and go through the same struggles as everyone else does. Even just unexpectely getting pizza delivered is a huge blessing!


12. Respect their family finances

Don't go to the pastor for a loan. He cannot legally give church money that came in the offering plate to private people to help them out in a pinch with their rent money, bills, etc. If your pastor does give you money, realize it is coming out of his wallet just as if you asked anyone else. Please think twice about asking for money from your pastor who may be supporting more people on his income than most others in the church are. Do not try to police how and on what the pastor's family spends their money. Different people have different priorities. They might buy used clothes all year round but splurge for new holiday clothes. They may prefer to spend their money on trips rather than toys. They may want to drive an old clunker to save money, or a new vehicle to save headaches. Bottom line, it's not anyone's business but their own how the pastor spends his paycheck.


13. Be respectful of her and her family's personal space

Don't move into a house so close to theirs that they see you every day and their kids share the park with your kids now. The pastor and his wife might want to take a walk around the neighborhood in the evening without being watched or overhead talking to each other. They need their own space and already feel like they live in a glass house with everyone watching every move they make. Don't move within sight of them. And please don't follow the PW into the bathroom at church to talk to her - she already gets that from her kids at home ;)  


14. Be kind to her children

Love them and treat her children as you do the other children in the church. Don't give them special treatment because they are the pastors kids, but don't make things harder for them because they are the pastors kids. Don't expect her children to not act like children. Don't expect her kids to be your kids' best friends.

15. Remember that she is human

Your PW does not have it in for you. She loves you and prays for you. She serves your pastor so he can better serve you. Be quick to forgive as she is not faultless. Do not have unrealistic expectations of her. Don't compare her to any other pastor's wives. Let her be human and have fun too. Ministry can be one of the loneliest places to be. Sometimes ladies are afraid to invite the PW to different activities that aren't church related. We do enjoy being with others and having adult conversations about things other than the Bible, children, and other people's problems! It's nice to be treated as a "normal" lady at times. Talk to her like you would talk to other ladies at church.


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And now for a real-life application, I am excited to share with you all that I am putting together gift baskets / care packages for the following pastor's wives: Mrs. Berzins, Mrs. Jimenez, Mrs. Perry, and Mrs. Romero.

My goal is to be an encouragement and a blessing to them. You may have guessed that being married to the men on the front lines of the spiritual/cultural war is not always stress-free and fun. We know our labor is not in vain in the Lord, but having tangible reminders that we are not alone in this is both encouraging as well as plain helpful. 

If there is anything you would like to contribute to put into these baskets, please mail them to me at:

Faithful Word Baptist Church
c/o Mrs. Anderson
2741 W Southern Ave. Suite 14
Tempe, AZ 85282

You could include anything from a heartfelt note to a gift. These baskets will be presented to the pastor's wives in person. The ladies will be traveling home by plane so please bear that in mind (no liquids over 3.4 oz, nothing overly heavy or bulky, etc.). The 'deadline' to send cards or gifts to the address above is the first week of August.


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Your turn - how do you like to be a blessing to your pastor's wife? What is the best way others have encouraged and built you up?

  

20 comments:

  1. Love the advice and real-life application! If I mail a gift, is it best to leave the recipient anonymous and assume you'll evenly divide the gifts among the wives?

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    1. You can assign the gifts yourself, or leave them anonymous, in which case I will evenly distribute them. Thank you!

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  2. This is fascinating stuff, and such good advice. I know that I can take my pastor's wife for granted without even thinking about it. I need to keep this post around a re-read it often.

    When my husband was considering accepting an eldership at our church (which is very like being an associate pastor), I immediately started stressing about the responsibilities that it would entail. I can only imagine how difficult it is to be the wife of a long-term full-time pastor. You do it beautifully and gracefully, and I love hearing about it so that I can know how to honor and help our pastor's wife.

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  3. I have never heard of a it being illegal for a church to give small loans or donations to people. Every church I have ever known sets aside a portion of its funds for the emergency needs of it's parishioners. Sometimes, pastors will tell the congregation and a special collection will be done. Obviously, churches can't help everyone, but with both a literal and allegorical reading of Matthew 25:31-46, we are called by Christ to charity. Does your church not do similar?

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    1. I will do a more in-depth post on this topic.

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  4. I am supposing that you do not soul win in your own neighborhood or invite people from your neighborhood to your church based on number 13. If that is the case, then why bother doing it in other neighborhoods? Or maybe you could clarify that and reword it to say the same thing a bit differently.

    Biblically speaking, the PW holds no office. Respect should come from the heart of the congregants.

    It is also unfortunate that as a PW, you and the children are under much more scrutiny than regular congregants.

    Also, do any of your church people read your blog? It is like an open book to your family. Scrutiny abounds and sometimes harshly because of fb and blogs and youtube. You're being watched more so than you actually think you are.

    On gifts and love languages, while it might be nice to get a gift, everyone doesn't speak the same languages. Their language may be time or words of affirmation. So, as a PW, you might be attuned to all of the love languages that are being spoken to you every time you are with your congregation.

    It is sweet of you to want to give gifts to the other PW at your sister churches, but a little discretion would be advisable and more honorable if the requests for gifts for the baskets would not have come in the same post as the tips.

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    1. We have knocked all the doors in our neighborhood many times. Two families from our subdivision have been coming since the first week we started the church 11 years ago, even though they have since moved out of this part of town. Two other families from our own street have come to church multiple times. There is a huge difference between us reaching out to those already living here, and someone seeking us out for the sake of being near us.

      I can only guess that members of our church read my blog. We are comfortable with putting a large amount of our lives out there for public scrutiny. Which makes it all the more important that when we DO draw a line, it is respected and not pushed further.

      Under the point of love languages, I listed examples for all 'five love languages'. You are honing in one just one of those.

      It was no accident that I mentioned the gift baskets in this post (I even called it a 'real-life application'). Those who find that objectionable were not going to send a note or small gift anyway.

      I would have loved to take more lessons from your successful blog and ministry, but unfortunately your screen name links to neither. Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.

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    2. In a post about tips for us to minister to our PW, with the real life application to send gifts or money for other PW, I should not have "honed in" on gift giving?

      I would have rather left a comment some other way than anonymous so I did. You are right in that I did not leave my blog address and your comment to me was a bit disrespectful. You have no idea who I am, and the Bible does speak of the older woman teaching the younger woman.
      Excuse me for being an illiterate old bible hag.

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    3. Christi, your first comment was neither a question nor advice, it was thinly veiled, condescending criticism. Why are you surprised that it was not well received?

      The gift baskets will be filled with cards and gifts. The cards would cover the following non-material points of the post: words of affirmation, expressing gratitude, dropping a note of encouragement, etc. It seems that YOU are the one focusing solely on the material.

      I have a hunch that had I posted about cards and gifts in a separate post, you would have taken issue with that, too.

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  5. If you want people to text you encourgement, you should take the few seconds to text them back. "Thanks" or even "tx" will do. Telling them not to expect a reply is poor form.

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    1. You are the exact type of person that needs to read this list again.

      Often in the morning when I get up, I already have multiple text messages waiting for me. Some of them are urgent and need an immediate response. By the time I am done responding to them, reading my Bible, preparing for the day, dealing with kids getting up and having needs, I may completely get sidetracked and not remember to respond to non-emergent messages. Then they get buried by more texts throughout the day. There are also messages coming in via email and FB.

      Other days, everything might be smooth sailing with time to respond. Of course I would love to be able to respond to every message I ever get. But it's just not realistic. If people are sending a text only to see if and when they get a response back, their heart is not in the right place to begin with. Which is why I'm quite certain you have not sent any encouraging message to any pastor's wife anytime in recent history, if ever.

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    2. Oh, one more, since you thrive on lengthy responses...

      I never said that I want people to text ME encouragement. It was an example that speaks to the hearts of SOME pastor's wives. Chances are, those who care about that as their love language DO respond to texts.

      Me, personally - encouraging texts are not high on my list of 'love languages'. I was not speaking for myself only. So I guess that means I took time out of my busy day to write something for the benefit of others. EEEK!

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    3. Wow, sorry if I hit a nerve. Just respond to people's texts. You'll be happier for it.

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  6. I'm quite glad I'm Catholic and don't need to be worrying about learning my pastor's wife's love language or whether I'm being friendly and helpful enough but not seeming like I expect friendship in return

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    1. Yes, that's true. But be sure to keep your kids far away from his boyfriend.

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  7. Is this just for people who know these ladies in real life or can anyone send gifts? Could I send some hand made things?

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    1. Gifts from anyone are welcome, and yes, handmade would be lovely!

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  8. What is wrong with some of u ladies? Quit being nitpickers. I appreciate your advice on how to be a blessing to our PW. Sometimes we overlook the fact that they are people to who need to be encouraged and loved as well. Thank u again for all the pointers :)

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  9. Most of these are a given (ie., "Remember she is human."), but the average person may not necessarily have time or want to use their time to send you notes of encouragement, participate in your activities, find out your love language, volunteer to help or make a meal for your family. In fact, I highly doubt I'd ever even consider doing any of those things for my pastor's wife. But yeah, the rest are a given.

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Your KINDLY WORDED, constructive comments are welcome, whether or not they express a differing opinion. All others will be deleted without second thought.