I was recently asked by a man who traveled as a church business consultant why pastor’s wives no longer were actively involved in the ministry like they were in the past.
It is true that the role of the pastor’s wife has changed through the years.
When we pastored our first church in the early 1970’s our house was open at all hours to the needs of our church and I taught Sunday school, cleaned the church, counseled women and whatever else needed to be done. Whenever the doors of the church were open to the public the pastor’s wife was expected to be there.
Wives of ministers now, are less likely to see the need to be that involved.
There are many reasons for this new outlook but I would like to address two of them. In the past it was traditionally accepted that the wife would be the homemaker of the family and the husband would be the one with the career. Now both are pursuing careers and both see their roles in the home as “homemakers”.
Many women no longer look on the role that her husband serves as a minister as something to which she also is called to participate in, rather she sees it as his career much like a lawyer or a doctor. She on the other hand has her own career.
The other reason I believe that wives are no longer are as open and supportive in the ministry as they used to be is that they are experiencing a feeling of being in competition with the ministry.Many wives face the pain of being married to a man who seems more married to others than he is to her. This creates a sense of competition and jealously.
While the answer to this situation cannot be merely addressed in a few short words I would say that most men are attracted by women who have the mysterious mixture of strength and vulnerability.
Being supportive to your husband’s vision and goals while at the same time knowing how and when to express your need of him is a delicate balance.
Women who cry to their husbands to spend more time at home without the balance of complete support for his work will be crying in the wind. On the contrary women who know when and how to express her need of him will most likely find that he is as eager to serve her and the family as he is to serve others.
We, as women cannot make our husbands want to be home and involved with family but we can have an attitude that creates an atmosphere where family life is more appealing.
I recently watched the movie Gifted Hands which is the story of the famous surgeon Ben Carson who successfully separated Siamese twins who were joined at the head. This is a story of a man who was inspired by two strong yet vulnerable women in his life. His mother had raised him and his brother by herself. They had fought through the pain of prejudice and personal struggles yet he succeeded because he had a mother who inspired him to greatness. He married a young woman who was bright and successful but saw it as her goal in life to push her husband toward being all he was able to be.
In the movie, his wife suffered a miscarriage which left her unable to bear any more children. Torn to be with his wife and his responsibility to be at the hospital, his wife said these words to him, “What are you doing here? I have support, I am well cared for, you go do your job.”
These were words from a strong woman who felt secure in herself and secure in the love of her husband.
Being a supportive wife is not always an easy task. It requires laying down our own desires, and dying to self but isn’t that what Christ called us as Christians to do?
Dwight L. Moody once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.” I aim to be the woman behind that man.
Wanda Hackett has been leading children’s ministries for over 40 years in churches throughout the States and Canada. She has a strong passion to see children experience Jesus Christ on their level – in a very living and relevant way. She has written numerous Children’s church curricula, some of which has been translated into Croatian! She has 3 children – who are all in full-time ministry – and 9 grandchildren.