A note from Kelly King: I’ve had the privilege of serving alongside some amazing ministry wives. None of them would describe themselves as a “typical pastor’s wife,” and I’m thankful for that. Each of them is just as unique as the women you serve in the local church. They have different personalities, spiritual gifts, and talents. And all of them are beneficial to the body of Christ. If you are looking for ways to encourage your staff wives, I know you will be encouraged by Diane Nix’s article today.
There is not a biblical job description for a ministry wife. Not one word on what or how a ministry wife is to perform her role is found in Scripture. The one exception is the mandate of how the older woman is to live out her life in mentoring the younger woman. Titus 2 is clear about the example that the older women are to be to the younger women. Senior pastors/elders have a mandate from 1 Timothy as to how they are qualified and from where they are to lead. Through the years I have searched for ways to help ministry wives understand what it means to live out their lives while living in the proverbial glass house.
If your husband leads a multi-staff congregation, it benefits the team if the senior pastor’s wife would step in and love her staff wives well. It’s not a commandment, and with this writing, there is no condemnation or judgment for those who choose not to heed the advice written here. All of that to say, the suggestions here are taken from my own journey and from watching senior pastors’ wives whose husbands pastor multi-staff congregations. It is the experience of this writer as I have watched the fall out of the lack of leadership of the staff wives and then also the benefits of stepping out in faith and loving them well.
One of the challenges for a senior pastor’s wife is acknowledging and accepting the role she has been called to—especially in the area of the leading other staff wives. My prayer is that you will accept this high calling and step into this role of leadership without fear, knowing with faith that God has called you to it and He will equip you to lead well! I hope you will find the following helpful as you lead, encourage, and love your staff wives.
1. Be Approachable and open toward the staff wife.
Let this woman know that you are there for her. When she is new, make sure she knows you are in her corner. Take some food over or give a quick call to communicate a warm welcome.
2. Pray and intercede for your staff wife.
Set a specific time that you are solely praying for these women. They desperately need prayers. As their senior pastor’s wife, they need to know that you are praying for them.
Let her know by text, phone call, email, or a short note that you have prayed for her on certain days for specific things.
3. Be her friend! Have coffee or lunch.
Create a community within your staff wives by connecting them to each other and with you. Yes, we are busy, but never allow the business of ministry crowd out the need for intimate and fun conversation.
Loneliness is the most significant emotional issue a ministry wife can and will experience. Help her create community by connecting her with you and with other staff wives.
4. Invite her to do life and ministry with you.
Encouragement can and will come if she feels like she belongs. Ask her to serve in her giftedness with you.
5. Have their family at your home for special occasions
Many ministry families are isolated from their extended families. Invite them to do life with you, and in turn, help them to feel as if they are part of something bigger.
6. Don’t assume that she has your same spiritual giftedness.
She has her own spiritual DNA. God has gifted her uniquely for His kingdom work. She may not have the same passion or gifting as her husband or you.
Free her to be who God has created her to be and encourage her in that area of ministry.
7. Give her opportunities to use her gift(s) and passion within your realm of leadership.
Listen for ways that you can help her develop, and encourage her giftings!
In my own journey, these women were my friends and sisters. We did life together! We laughed. We cried. We ministered. We celebrated. We disagreed. We stood together. We had each others’ backs. My husband wasn’t just their husbands’ boss; we were a family team. We prayed for one another and our families. WE LOVED EACH OTHER fiercely!
As a senior pastor’s wife, realize your staff wives need you. They need you to pray for them, love them, and to lead them as they live life from the glass house. They are watching how you do it! Step into your role and let them in.
I know it’s risky letting your guard down and inviting them in. It’s an investment in their spiritual lives and will challenge you in yours. It means to join arms together and let God work through each one of you as you produce kingdom fruit for the glory of our Lord!
Diane is the director and founder of Contagious Joy 4 Him, a network of encouragement to ministry wives around the globe. They are offering “Free Refresh Retreats” and a safe place for ministry wives to share their hearts with other like-minded women. Thirty-five years ago, she married her husband, pastor/professor, Dr. Preston Nix. He is a professor of evangelism and evangelistic preaching at NOBTS.