I’m not talking about wives who fail at being pastors wives, I’m talking about my wife who is the wife of a failing pastor.
When we came to this church I told them my wife was not an employee. She should not be expected to do a bunch of stuff, and if you have something to tell me, tell me.
These parameters are not remembered by anyone, so it has to be demonstrated consistently. People don’t listen to words; they might eventually pick up on habits.
All the grandiose statements about “my wife is not an employee” are great and everything, but when no one else shows up to watch kids in the nursery, guess who watches kids in the nursery?
I think there were years where my wife heard maybe five of my messages because no one else would serve in the nursery. This was not good. Spare me the lectures about “Well, you need to make people do it, that’s not right.”
Yeah, ok, and who exactly are these people I want to entrust the care of other people’s children to? Not to mention that my wife felt bad making a mom who brought the kids stay in the nursery with the kids. What’s the point of going to church then?
My wife knows my theological brilliance anyway, she’ll just watch the kids. She’d rather give other people an “opportunity” to hear sermons than her.
But it still got old.
The nursery thing was annoying, but we’ve since taken care of that by not having any little kids in our church anymore. But perhaps the two biggest sacrifices she makes being married to a failing pastor are these:
Dealing with people who left the church.
Hardly a trip to Wal-Mart goes by without her running into someone who hates her husband and left the church. Now that our kids are out of the house, she has a job in public where she deals with these people regularly. It’s awkward. They act happy to her, she’s not the one they’re mad at, so she acts happy to them (usually, there have been exceptions). There are always weird conversations with people who want to argue doctrine her stupid husband doesn’t understand with her in her workplace. Pretty much half our town has either left our church or knows how embarrassing our church is. She is constantly humiliated by these people.
Dealing with a depressed husband.
The church has taken a massive toll on me. There are seasons of unbelievable discouragement. Bad things happen in bunches. There were some very dark years. This church has caused friction with our extended families, we receive regular doses of criticism, advice, and humiliation from our extended families. This takes an emotional toll on both of us. When her husband is down, she is down. When we’re both down, we have to be careful, we can spiral our whole relationship into bad places, and our kids observe. She sits in church on the Sunday when eight people show up. She feels it almost as much as I do. My pain is her pain. My embarrassment is her embarrassment.
These are tough things to deal with. My church impacts what my family is able to do. Not getting paid much for this misery has caused tension between us. What we spend money on has to be thought through carefully because we can’t afford to do all of it. Throw some medical situations in there as a self-employed person who has to buy insurance that doesn’t cover anything, and yeah, there’s been some tension.
I love my wife. She has stood by me. She has gone through all this junk with me. I feel sorry for her, I’ve apologized to her many times. I wish my church was better just for her. But we talk. We talk a lot.
Couples in ministry: talk. Talk about everything. Talk. Talk. Talk. Get in each other’s minds, know what the other person is thinking. Get on the same page. We may not agree as to what’s on the page, but at least we know what page we’re on!
Yes, my wife could be more encouraging to me, but I could equally be more encouraging to her. Our goal is to do what we can for the Lord, to view ourselves before Him. What does He think of what we’re doing? What’s His take on these situations? Are we doing the right thing before Him?
My opinion doesn’t matter. Her opinion doesn’t matter. Whiners who left the church don’t matter. Apathetic people in the church opinions don’t matter. God’s opinion matters. That’s it. That’s the page we’re on at the moment. We will stand before the Lord and give an account. This should influence our behavior today.
We’re both more mature believers now. This church has beaten us into the ground where we could finally grow! We’re pressing toward the mark and remarkably doing well in our relationship despite the struggles. In fact, the struggles probably tied us closer together.
I’m not going to paint a rosy picture. Being married, having kids, and being a failing pastor have not been easy. But we’ve helped each other grow in Christ and that’s what marriage is for.