The following is a guest post from Dan Summerlin, president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah.
Focus on the Family launched “Minister Appreciation Month” in 1994, suggesting churches set aside October as a time to say thank you to their pastors. Since initiating this endeavor, many churches have taken part in expressing appreciation for their pastor and for the work he does.
I would like to suggest that we also say “thank you” to the pastor’s wife. As demanding as ministry is for the pastor, it is even more demanding for his spouse. Pastor’s wives are among the unsung heroes in the local church.
Why is the role of pastor’s wife difficult? Many church members do not understand all the demands on the pastor and therefore cannot grasp the demands upon his family.
A few years ago, Leadership Magazine reported the effects of vocational ministry on pastor’s families. The results were eye opening.
What were some of the biggest issues for the minister’s family?
First was insufficient time together. He is working on sermons, visiting the sick, working on administrative issues, doing counseling and evangelism and it seems there is little time left for the family. A crisis in the church family means special events such as vacations, concerts and other occasions have to be cancelled.
Another major issue was congregational expectations for the pastor’s wife. Wives felt unprepared to fulfill their role and many times the congregation expected them to do a ministry they did not possess the talent or the gifts to do. This expectation led to low self-esteem and discouragement.
Another concern was the pastor’s wife not having a pastor. Other church members have the option of going to their pastor for guidance, counseling, advice and help, with the understanding he will be unbiased and keep everything confidential. The pastor’s wife does not have a pastor to go to for these things.
Many pastors’ wives also struggled with the lack of personal friendships. The pastor’s wife may fear that if she has close friends in the church, those relationships might cause jealousy among the membership. Moreover, she can’t help wonder at times if the friendship is because of her, or because of her role. She may feel anxious sharing problems because of her role.
This year, honor your pastor’s wife. Thank her for helping her husband do his work. Thank her for being a crucial element in the church’s ministry and treat her special, not just because she is the pastor’s wife, but because of who she is in Christ.
I encourage all ministers’ wives to attend the free Ministers’ Wives Luncheon planned between the morning and afternoon sessions of the KBC Annual Meeting on Nov. 12 at Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah. For details, visit http://www.kybaptist.org/ministerswives.