Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Life of a Pastor's Wife

I really think I should write a book someday, with a title along these lines:


The first thing I want to do in this column is to express my love and appreciation to you and offer my prayers for a blessed Holy Week. So many will come under your influence who do not understand the cross — or redemption. Please help those you serve this next week to grasp how "high and wide and deep and long" is the love of Jesus (Ephesians 3).

The second thing I wish to address is the emotional and spiritual health of your spouse.

With so much attention being given by the media to the tragic death of Pastor Matthew Winkler, including a recent article in USAToday (4/3/06), I thought it appropriate to give some thought to the mindset of a pastor's wife who was so frustrated — depressed, maybe — that she would shoot her husband in the back.

I admit I do not know any more than you do about the motive of Mary Winkler, but I do interact a great deal with clergy wives. And I sense their concern — and even, at times, their futility.

Oh, I realize that not all clergy wives struggle with the challenges presented when you share your spouse and family with a congregation. But I have not met many who have not had their moments.

Here is what I hear: "Our family needs more balance. It seems we are owned by the church." "Sometimes, when I see how my husband is treated by the church leaders, I wonder if it's all worth it?" "I'm concerned about my husband's health. He does not sleep well, eat well or find time for himself."

When they talk about themselves, so often it is in the area of their own identity or relationship. "I'm not sure who I can trust." "So many of the expectations for me are unrealistic." "If we didn't work here, I'm not sure we would even attend this church." "Sundays are my roughest day of the week." "I feel a heaviness in my heart that I can't describe."

Well, you know the rest. As couples in ministry, you must keep talking, keep observing the one you love. Don't be afraid to ask how the other is doing, and take time to be together. And, if you have a problem — please get help!! Call us on our toll-free Pastoral Care Line at 877-233-4455. Ministry should be a joy — full of love and respect for one another.

Happy Easter! —HBL

Taken from: The Pastor's Weekly Briefing
"Focus on the Family -- Pastoral Ministries"
Volume 14, Number 14 April 7, 2006