As October has so quickly concluded, we look back on Clergy Appreciation Month in hopes that every pastor was encouraged and honored in some way. This is an important and biblical engagement. Yet, before we move too far past this necessary emphasis, I am mindful of some unsung heroes that we must acknowledge–the often forgotten pastor’s wife.
Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Romans 13:7 commends, “…respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
The often forgotten pastor’s wife fulfills a unique call, carries a special burden, and is often overlooked.
She deserves a level of appreciation and honor that is seldom expressed as is merited.
Last week at our conference in the Toronto area, a moment was set aside to honor pastors’ wives. This proved to be a powerful and emotional moment for us all. Karl Whittingstall, the Pastor of Student Ministries at our host church, Hope Bible Church,[i] read a moving tribute to pastors’ wives.
I was so touched, I wanted to share it with you today. I felt deep regret for not honoring my own wife as I should have over the years. We all felt a fresh burden to pray for and encourage those faithful spouses who stand willingly alongside their husbands.
Here is Karl’s tribute:
To the often forgotten pastor’s wife, the woman often behind, but so faithfully beside, a man God has called to labor for Him.
Your husband stands on stage and preaches, leads your church in worship, cares for other people’s needs, points groups to Jesus, hangs out with church members, goes on missions trips, leads retreats, counsels people, works with other leaders, and makes hard decisions. Everyone sees him, but often, and usually unintentionally, overlooks you. It isn’t easy to be you, and we all publically acknowledge that right now.
You endure so much!!
A husband worn down mentally, physically, and spiritually from caring for others struggles to come home with enough gas in the tank to care for you. You are often privately under spiritual attack, the evil one distracting your husband by what God has called him to publically.
You are often left alone with the kids while your husband goes out night after night, to retreat after retreat, elder’s meeting after elder’s meeting, missions trip after missions trip, to one worship practice after another – while you are putting the kids to bed alone, cleaning up from dinner by yourself, and doing so much you are not thanked for.
“But aren’t you excited to see how the Lord is moving?”
You answer yes, because you know it’s right, but it is hard.
For all the times you held down the fort while we went to work; For all the times you would have loved to see God work up close and change a heart; For the times you skipped prayer meetings to stay home with a snotty-nosed infant, a daughter with a fever, or a son with the flu; For all the days off or evening dates that didn’t happen because of ministry…
We can’t give you those back, but we can say, “Thank you,” and try to love you better.
Right now we acknowledge your service and sacrifice. We don’t do this enough, and for this we are sorry. Please don’t be discouraged, pastor’s wife. The LORD SEES IT ALL. He knows your frustration, your discouragement, and your times of hurt and loneliness. You carry a burden that is no doubt different from, but just as weighty as your husband’s. Do not believe the lies of the evil one that you are not being used, that you are somehow “just” a pastor’s wife.
You are the smile, the warmth, the comfort, the faithful, prayerful, patient, more-helpful-than-you-could-even-know partner to the man God has called to labor for Him. You might not often be seen or even be with him, but he can’t do it without you beside him.
You are not “just” a pastor’s wife. You have been specifically called by God to this role. It isn’t easy, but this is why we love you, this is why we pray for you, this is why we can do what we do—because we do it alongside you.
Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your endurance. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for your correction even when we don’t want to hear it. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your honesty, loyalty, and patience.
From every pastor and ministry director to their wife: We love you!
I encourage you to write or call an often forgotten pastor’s wife today and let her know you love her, respect her, and deeply appreciate her faithful obedience to her calling and her sacrificial support for the Lord’s work. Honor to whom honor is due.
This article about the often forgotten pastor’s wife originally appeared here.