You see her every Sunday. She comes rushing in, perhaps a little late, and finds her seat near the front row of the church. Her arms are weighed down with stuff: her purse, her Bible and perhaps a diaper bag. She plops her belongings down on the floor and takes a seat, and looks around to smile at everyone. You imagine how wonderful her life must be, to be the wife of the pastor. You make eye contact with her, smile, and nod your head.
Then perhaps your mind wanders a bit. Why wasn’t she at the last women’s outreach? Why is her kid running wild through the sanctuary? Why didn’t she reply to your last email? Isn’t her skirt a little too short for a Sunday morning? Why did she have dinner in a pub and post the picture on Facebook? It’s easy to find a lot of ways to tear her down. She is a pastor’s wife, after all, and you hold her to a very high standard.
Friends, she’s a woman, just like you, with insecurities, worries, wounds and fears. Like you, she has a dishes to wash, bills to pay, kids to shuttle, and calls to return. She also carries the burden of the church along with her husband. She often has dinner alone. This woman needs help and support, not judgment and isolation. You can be the source of help and support. Yes, you.
Here are five priceless gifts that you can give to your pastor’s wife and they won’t cost you one cent:
1) Encouragement. Your pastor’s wife, right now, is going through things that you are not even aware of. Look at your own messy, complicated life and I guarantee that hers is just as messy! You can be a friend to your pastor’s wife by encouraging her. In the old days, this might be sending a handwritten note card or even a thoughtful email. Now, it is as simple as a quick text message. “Hey, I’m thinking about you and I’m praying for you today.” Don’t have her cell phone number? Then simply ask for it. Your pastor’s wife needs encouragement and God can use you to give her this gift.
2) Realistic expectations. Don’t expect that just because this woman carries a title of “pastor’s wife” or “first lady” that she has it all together. She doesn’t. She may look strong and confident and capable but she isn’t. She struggles just like you. Lower your expectations of her – don’t expect her to be perfect all the time. Let her be imperfect.
3) Confidentiality. This is a invaluable gift that you can give your pastor’s wife. If this woman takes a risk and confides in you, you better not repeat what she says. If she shares with you a weakness or a struggle, then you need to be a vault that safely stores that information. Your job is to protect this dear woman’s heart and not destroy it through gossip. She needs a safe place to be transparent and you can give this gift to her. Be a friend that she can trust when she needs to ask for prayer.
4) Friendship. Church members assume that pastor’s wives have friends. She may look like she is surrounded by gorgeous friends, but in reality, she needs a friend. Pastor’s wives are often hurt by church politics, malicious gossip, and those who tear down her husband. She has been betrayed by those she thought were her friends. She has been rejected by those who did not like her. She is lonely. Period. So can you invite her to have a cup of coffee with you? Can you be a friend, giving the gifts of encouragement and confidentiality mentioned above? Can you choose to sit with her at the next church event? Be a friend to this lonely woman.
4) Support. Your pastor’s wife needs support. Okay, here the facts. Church members excel in complaining about how the church is run. They are the consummate armchair quarterbacks and backseat drivers. The complaints may seem harmless, but they are aimed at tearing down the pastor and in turn, his wife. Here’s a gift you can give your pastor’s wife: don’t gossip or listen to gossip. Hey, that’s in the Bible, too. If someone starts to gossip just tell them that you will not listen to gossip or complaints or discussion or whatever they want to call their selfish prideful suggestions. Be loyal to your pastor’s wife and don’t entertain such talk.
5) Prayer. This woman, as well as her husband, needs prayer. She is carrying a huge responsibility and she can’t do it without Jesus. She is weak just like you, and fights temptations, bitterness, anger, fear and worry. She has health problems, aging parents, financial struggles, and five children to boot. She needs prayer. Reach out and ask her how you can pray for her. Do this often. And then lift your pastor’s wife up to the throne of God. This is a precious gift to her.
Don’t assume that you, little old you, could not be a blessing to your pastor’s wife. The devil wants to keep you separated from her, but she needs you, and you need her. Be brave and take the first step and reach out to her. All it takes is a consistent “How can I pray for you?” to start this friendship. Then become a gift giver, giving your pastor’s wife encouragement, realistic expectations, confidentiality, friendship, and prayer. She needs these priceless gifts more than you will ever know.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11