|Vol. 16 No. 8 August 2014||
What is the Role of
the Preacher’s Wife?
I am sure asking various members of the Lord’s church, one would hear a variety of answers to the question, “What is the role of the preacher’s wife?” Yes, the leaders of a congregation and the preacher that serve that congregation need to consider the opinions of the individuals who make up the congregation on any subject that effects the church, including the “role of the preacher’s wife.” However, the only viewpoint that matters is what God’s Word says on the subject under consideration!
Biblically speaking, the primary role of the preacher’s wife is to be a faithful Christian, putting God first in her life. Jesus said in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Also, consider our Lord’s words in Luke 16:13. “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The word “hate” in these two verses means to love less. As faithful followers of Jesus, we must love our family members less than we love Christ. The latter verse further explains that our hearts will be loyal to only one master – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ or Satan – we cannot divide our loyalties between the two. The preacher’s wife, as well as all Christians, must demonstrate that God ranks first in her life.
The next most important role of the preacher’s wife is that she is a proper wife to her husband and that she fulfill her God-given responsibilities in that realm. Titus 2:4-5 clearly outlines the role of a wife: “that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” In this chapter, Paul outlined the responsibilities of the members of a congregation. In verses four and five, the young women were told how to be good wives.
If God has blessed the preacher and his wife with children, the wife’s duties have increased. The above verse speaks of women loving their children. This includes caring for their physical and spiritual needs. While it is the primary responsibility of the father to train and admonish the children in the ways of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), the mother needs to assist in this area. She is the one who spends the most time with the children. Mothers need to put into practice Deuteronomy 6:6-7 and 11:18-19 by using every waking moment to instill in their children the Word of God. Mothers should teach their children to respect older individuals and their peers. Children should be taught to be responsible for their actions and possessions. The preacher’s wife and all married women have a huge obligation to fill that will take much time and energy to fully comply with God’s commands in the role of wife and mother.
Some members of the Lord’s church expect the preacher’s wife to be extremely hospitable. They believe it is her duty to invite the visitors into her home for a meal. It is her responsibility to take food to the sick. Clearly the Bible teaches that Christians are to show hospitality, and it is one of the qualifications of an elder, and subsequently of elders’ wives (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). First Peter 4:8-9 reads, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” In this passage, Peter instructed all Christians to show hospitality because of a love of the brethren. God commands Christians to be hospitable not because we have to, but because we want to.
Some believe that the preacher’s wife should be teaching the children’s Bible classes, and if not already on the schedule to teach, she is the one to call upon at a moment’s notice to fill in for a missing teacher. Others expect the preacher’s wife to participate in every activity sponsored by the local congregation. Some even think the preacher’s wife should be the one to take care of seeing that those activities are scheduled, planned, promoted and function properly. When I think of these attitudes I am reminded of Jesus parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-29). In this parable Jesus shows that each Christian has various abilities, and each child of God must use those God-given abilities for the Lord. Remember, the parable praised the five- and two-talent individuals because they used what they had. The one talent individual was condemned not because he had only one talent, but because he failed to use the one talent. This parable clearly teaches that God expects, even demands, that each Christian work for the Lord but each Christian is not expected to do everything. The preacher’s wife, along with every Christian in the congregation, must evaluate her individual talents and opportunities and serve the Lord accordingly. It would be almost impossible for a preacher’s wife with young children to take charge of every activity of the Lord’s church and still be the wife and mother God commands her to be. Perhaps the discipline problems we see in the preacher’s children is a result of the preacher’s wife trying to do everything within the body of the local congregation, and her children are neglected or they are simply too tired from all the extra activities.
Unfortunately, some leaders within a congregation think that when they hired the preacher that they were the successful bidders in a two for one sale. They feel that when they hired the preacher that they also hired his wife for secretarial duties, teaching, visiting, etc. They believe that she should be available at any time to counsel, encourage, and comfort others in the congregation. This attitude places an unjust requirement upon the preacher’s wife, and it often encourages her to neglect her God-given role as wife and mother.
The Bible does not outline specific roles for the preacher’s wife. The duties and responsibilities of the preacher’s wife are no different than that of any Christian woman within the local congregation. However, because her husband is in a leadership role, she should be mature enough to accept that some hold her to a higher standard than others within the Lord’s church. Within any congregation of the church there are members who are babes in Christ and others who are mature, with some falling somewhere in between. Elders, deacons and their wives must meet certain qualifications to serve the Lord in those leadership roles. Each of the qualifications deal with a level of maturity on the part of the elders, deacons, elders’ wives and deacons’ wives. Preachers and their wives must also demonstrate a level of maturity in order to appropriately serve the congregation.
Here are some suggestions that will help the preacher’s wife be all that she can be for God and the local congregation that her husband and she serve. Of course, all Christians are supposed to serve according to their abilities within the scope of biblical roles.
Dress appropriately for worship, for activities hosted by the congregation and when outside the home (1 Timothy 2:9-10). What is proper attire for a picnic in the woods may not be acceptable clothing for worshipping our God. The key is modesty in dress and behavior.
Show hospitality to all the members of the congregation and visitors. We do not truly get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ when we only see them at the church building. Invite people into your home. You do not have to serve a full meal – snacks and tea or water will suffice. The purpose of the visit is not to show off your culinary skills (or lack thereof), but to get to know the individuals.
Be compassionate to those around you. Let others see that you care about them as persons – that you love them and their souls.
Have a listening ear. As much as possible, be a person that others can turn to during difficult times. Listen with compassion and understanding, and give appropriate advice when needed. Sometimes others know what they need to do, they just need someone to talk to as they sort out the difficulties life throws their way.
Learn to keep quiet. When someone tells something in confidence, keep it to yourself. If this confidence is something you feel you cannot personally handle, ask permission to talk to the elders or to your husband about the matter. Also, because of the position your husband has, you may become aware of circumstances that are not common knowledge within the congregation. You must keep this information to yourself. Much harm has come to Christians and to the church because a preacher’s wife talked to others about things that should never have been voiced.
Learn to say “No” in a loving, kind way. Know your limitations. Make sure that your family is your first priority. If taking on another class or project will mentally and physically drain you and keep you from properly caring for your family and home, say, “No, I cannot do that at this time.” We must maintain the proper balance of serving God and others outside the realm of our home and maintaining our homes.
What is the role of a preacher’s wife? It is to be a faithful Christian, serving God to the best of her ability, to assume the attitude and behavior of a godly wife as outlined in Scripture and to encourage her husband in his work with the church. The role of the preacher’s wife is no different than the role of any Christian woman. What we sometimes fail to realize is that our families come first in our service to God. As our children grow, we can reach out with greater emphasis to the world around us. It will be a sad day in eternity if we saved multitudes of lost souls but failed to ingrain the Word of God on our children’s hearts, and they are lost.