A message to pastor husbands from a pastor’s wife

By Marilyn J. Carlaw

Dear pastor-husband,

As wives, we do understand that there are inopportune moments when you will be needed. But, not everything is critical. Use discernment and wisdom. A prayer meeting can be postponed or even better, someone else can lead it when your son is in the final game of the season. Here are a few other things you need to know:

  1. Somebody invented answering machines for a reason. Don’t interrupt an evening of lovemaking or family time to grab the phone “just in case it’s urgent.”
  2. A day off is biblical! Take it. Guard it.
  3. Before you take a position with a new church body, inquire of the search committee and congregation what they expect of your wife. Indicate to a potential church the three priorities: God, husband/wife (family), pastor/pastor’s wife.
  4. Dispel the two-for-one myth. They are not hiring your wife! (Unless of course they are, in which case she should receive a paycheque!)
  5. Date your mate. What did you do to woo your wife before you were married? Ride a bike together? Walk in the park? Snuggle during a movie? A bit o’ two-steppin’ at the local country watering hole? Why quit now? Before the wedding you tried to get her; after the wedding you need to keep her, so don’t let the good times stop. She needs to be your priority. Do you spend more time trying to impress the board or the Sunday school teachers than you do your wife? Time to surprise her. Why not buy Family Life’s Simply Romantic Nights from Focus on the Family? Or plan an eight o’clock meeting for one evening, when the kids are all in bed, and show up at the front door with flowers, foot-rub oil and no agenda. Date your mate. It’s vital.
  6. Remember that if your family is destroyed, your ministry will be too. You have no business handing out advice when you can’t take any yourself. God wants to be first, then your wife and family, then His Church. These three will interrelate a lot, but by choosing to set boundaries, a wonderful balance can be achieved and maintained with relative ease.
  7. A little positive public affirmation of your family never hurts either.
  8. Ask your wife if she could do this or that, don’t tell her. Please don’t sign her up for something without respecting her enough to ask her first. Allow her the freedom of being who God intended her to be.
  9. Now that you’ve quit demanding she fill a certain role, protect her from those in the church who also want her to do particular things. Her service will flow out of her relationship with Christ, not her marriage to you or title of pastor’s wife.
  10. Ask for forgiveness – from God, your wife, your kids, the church – whomever you’ve wronged. A leader of integrity knows when he needs to come clean, and your family life and ministry will be richer for it.

You have been given a high calling in life. You are called to be a child of God – the highest calling. And He has blessed you with a wife and family that you have been given the privilege of loving the way Jesus loves His Church. Finally you have the honour of being a shepherd to a part of Christ’s Body. May you experience fullness of joy when you surrender to His tier of commitment.

A heartfelt “thank you” to all you men who have chosen to put God and your wife and family at the top of your list. As others watch and learn from you, God will bless His Kingdom through you and bring glory to His name. And isn’t that what it’s all about?


Marilyn and Dan Carlaw enjoy pastoral ministry at a small church in eastern B.C.

This article is printed by permission of the author and is excerpted from her book Breaking the Mold – Discovering the Authentic You. If you would like to read more of Marilyn’s book, email [email protected].