This is a tricky one. Just like commenting, in any way, on stipends and pastoral salary compensation, anything I say can and will be taken wrongly and treated with cynicism about my own motives. But the cynicism of others has infrequently stopped me before so… :)
I remember a few years ago, we invited our Senior Pastor and his family over to our house one Saturday morning for breakfast. It was a bit of a novel way for us to catch up and spend some time together. It allowed us to host them and treat them. We didn’t do anything too extravagant, just laid out a full breakfast with cereals, pancakes, eggs, croissants, tea, coffee and a few nibblies. We had a good morning! But, my pastor’s wife still talks about it today, over 10 years later. At the time her house was next door to the Church building and a school run, at that time, as a Church ministry. So her house was a veritable thoroughfare. They barely had a minute when strangers and school people or church people weren’t in their lounge room, dining room and kitchen, using their stuff, eating their food and expecting her to wait on them the whole time. Our little breaky gave her the morning off and let her have a break for a couple hours. She loved it! We learnt from that how to ‘treat’ her and followed that up with a few more meals, BBQ’s and restaurant visits over the years. Now that her husband is no longer a Senior Pastor (he’s still in ministry, just not pastoring) she is one of my wife’s closest friends and counselors. When she tells my wife, “I know how you feel” she really does!
In recent years, we’ve really appreciated some gifts of clothing passed down to my daughter for her school uniform as well as a few different gifts and household items. But as Mark Driscoll mentions below, sometimes gifts aren’t the best idea. Although one gift that both my wife AND I really enjoyed a couple years ago, was when one of our Deacons gave me a handful of movie vouchers. We had several weeks of movie-going dates on my “day off“. My wife loves movies and it gives us an escape as I have to turn off my mobile while I’m in the theatre.
I am urging people who love their church and its leaders to pray for and care for the pastor’s wife, whose ministry is so vital, yet overlooked or assumed. Gifts are a good practical way to love the pastor’s wife, but it is even more thoughtful and loving to give her cash or a gift card so she can get what she needs or wants. The purpose of gifts is defeated if her house is filled with a bunch of things she cannot use but feels obligated to display so that when you come over she doesn’t feel rude. Beyond gifts, tell her thanks. Write her thank you cards. Look for ways to ensure she is served and helped on Sundays.
Thankfully, after some painful years in ministry, Mars Hill Church has matured to a wonderful place where Grace and I are well loved and supported. So, this blog post is filled with things we do not need. Yet many pastors’ wives still do need them, and I am hoping that some of you can help be that blessing.
I echo Mark’s comment that not everything in this short series of posts about the pastor’s wife is about thing’s my wife needs. But, I would hasten to add, a lot of them are. My wife willingly sacrifices an enormous amount to support and assist me in my pastoral ministry whilst being an outstanding and devoted mother and a godly example of a Christian woman to the many girls and women in our Church.
10 An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
~ Proverbs 31:10-12