The month of October has been traditionally designated as Pastor Appreciation Month. This is a time when churches somehow thank their pastor for his service. It is a nice idea, and I appreciate the words of encouragement that come from my congregation. But I would gladly trade it for a Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month.
I’ve heard that John D. Rockefeller once said that without his wife he would have been a poor man. The honest pastor will have similar words about his wife. Without her he would be a “poor man” in a pastoral sense or may not be a pastor at all.
Here are a few things that I realize about my wife, that without her I would be a “poor man” when it comes to ministry.
1. My wife helped me get through schooling so I could serve the church. She agreed to the Ph.T. program (putting husband through). In college she worked full-time so I could go to class full-time. In seminary she took care of our three children while I worked two jobs and chipped away at my M.Div. These degrees were for the purpose of serving the church in the future and my wife did all she could to help me get through. This does not even count in all of the financial sacrifice we had to make during those days, which she never complained about. Pastors and churches should appreciate the sacrifice that many wives made in the days of preparation.
2. My wife helped me take my first call. My first full-time pastorate call was over 1,000 miles from our family and in a small town that can have some harsh winters. My wife has always demonstrated the “go wherever” mentality when it comes to ministry. Without her support, I would never have made it to northwest Iowa to serve my first church. Pastors and churches should appreciate the sacrifice that many wives made to be serving in a certain locality.
3. My wife helps me to love the church. A wife will either be a help or hindrance in ministry. My wife is a great help. She has a positive outlook on the church even on the worse days. She eagerly serves where God has gifted her. She avoids bitterness when things are sour and does not repay evil for evil. These are all essential character traits. She demonstrates a love and commitment to our church.
The ministry is one of the few vocations where having a supportive wife is essential. If a plumber or investor has a wife who is not too crazy about his job, he can still get by and earn a living. This is not true in the pastorate. An unsupportive wife will kill the husband’s ministry and possibly the church.
The takeaway from this is for both pastors and churches. As pastors, we need to be sure our wives know how much we appreciate their sacrifice and love for the church. They need to know how essential their positive role is in our lives and how we deeply appreciate it.
Churches also need to realize how much of a sacrifice that the pastor’s wife makes. The wife has often agreed to go wherever her husband has been called to. The wife often has agreed with her husband to voluntarily take a low-paying job in the non-profit world for the rest of their lives to serve Christ. The wife stands by her husband during times of deep discouragement and often helps support his faith so he can persevere. The truth is, without the support of the wife, many churches would not have their pastor today.
So as I said earlier, I would gladly trade this month for a Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month.