Fortunately for the church, many women have already been taught to support their husbands. If we are Christians, we know we are to be help-meets to our husbands no matter what profession they have.
When it comes to being a preacher’s wife, what other things are expected of us? Will preacher’s wives be held to higher standards than other Christians? Will we hold ourselves to higher standards? What about our children? We might consider the “2-for-1 package deal” that congregations sometimes assume they get when they hire a man to preach. Several areas could be addressed. We might label these as “Things to consider before deciding to marry a preacher.”
- Living in a “glass house”
- Living in the shadow of the preacher
- Dealing with criticism
- Making time for family
- Money matters
- Making time for personal spiritual growth and encouragement
Exactly what is the “job” of the preacher’s wife? How will she handle it if her husband is interviewing for a new position and the congregational leaders make it clear that they expect the preacher’s wife to hold a secular job to supplement the salary? They may make it clear that she must provide part of the family support, as they are unable (or unwilling) to pay him enough to support the family. Neither are they willing to allow him to have a second job. Have you studied enough scripture to know how to answer such demands? Are you committed to being able to live frugally? What sacrifices are you willing to make?
One Christian young lady let it be known that her life’s goal was to marry a preacher. What did she think she was getting? What was her real goal? Was her ambition rational? Many a young girl has said she would like to marry someone who will be her spiritual leader, and preachers are usually perceived as such. She probably imagines she will not have the normal troubles and temptations in life that other ladies her age have. She imagines she will be protected from temptation and sin, but this concept of a preacher’s life is unrealistic. Just because a husband is a strong spiritual leader does not mean there will be no temptations for him or his wife. If anything, Satan will seek them out (1 Pet. 5:8).
Perhaps the young lady is unsure of her own faith, or she may have failed a few of life’s tests and know she needs a “guardian angel” to watch over her. Whatever the underlying reasons, she needs to do some deep soul-searching before she takes the big step; otherwise, when the pressures of the life she has chosen come to her marriage, she may cause the family structure to crumble. Not only will her family and friends be affected, but the whole church will suffer.
First of all, the reason for marrying a preacher should not be to shore up a woman’s own weaknesses. She should think about what she herself can bring to the marriage. Can she truly be a help meet for him and support him in his work? Can she be depended upon to take up slack where he may be weak? Can she endure when other ladies either approach her husband romantically or the whole group rejects him as their teacher? Both kinds of people will be in every congregation. How will she respond?
Other times such a young lady may have thought that being married to the preacher would bring her respect and honor. Little does she know how few preachers are actually honored for their work, and even fewer wives are remembered at all. In fact, if a preacher is teaching truth and standing for biblical principles, he may even be rejected by congregation after congregation. Purportedly, the average preacher in the USA moves every two years. When any congregation rejects the preacher it most definitely rejects the wife as well. Can the wife endure such treatment? Will she be willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel of Christ (2 Tim 3:12-13)? What about uprooting the children every time the husband must search for another job?
The life of the apostle Paul is a great example of what Christians and outsiders can do to a preacher. “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings” (2 Cor. 6:4-5). Paul must have understood Christ’s statement in Matthew 19:12. “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Matt. 19:12). As the wife of a preacher, what hardships might a woman have to endure—the demanding schedule or even unfeeling treatment of those opposed to the gospel? Why do you suppose Paul chose not to marry and carry a wife with him everywhere he went even though he has a right to?
On another occasion Paul says, “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. 6:6-10). Can every Christian young lady endure such extremes? Is she willing to admit these situations may well come to her?
If the young lady’s goal is noble, if her repentance is genuine, if her desire to live godly is true, then she must acknowledge that having the extra burden of living in a glass house could cause her to falter in her resolve. Is she prepared for the extra burdens that living in the limelight will bring? “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (1 Tim. 3:12). If that is true of every Christian, then how much more relevant is it to the preacher and his wife!