Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
Pastors' Wives--Letter to My Pastor Husband #4
September 12, 2015
YOU ARE NOT MY PASTOR
Dear Pastor Husband,
So I should probably account for my comment in the last letter about you being my husband and NOT my pastor. I certainly don’t mean that with any disrespect. It’s just that while I do see you at your very best, I also see you at your very worst. When you are being very professional, I am there. But I am also there when you are being, how shall we describe it?…less than proper. And let’s be honest, I also smell you too. All of that wrapped together makes it a little hard to think of you as my pastor sometimes.
However, I do recognize how important and complicated your role is. You have an incredibly high stress, high pressure, high impact job—physically, emotionally and spiritually. I think about the sense of responsibility that I feel toward my own little circle of influence to be there when needed, to pray without ceasing, to ache in their heartaches and to simply attempt to stay in even minor contact regularly, and I am stressed out and overwhelmed. I can’t even begin to imagine or remotely understand how that feels for you, taking it to the level of our entire congregation! The burden might possibly break me.
And with that larger territory of influence also makes you a greater target for criticism. I would guess that you are criticized or “critiqued” on an almost daily basis. I’m sure that you hear about what you wear, what you say, where you spend your time, how often you are in the office, who you did or didn’t visit, what you need to preach on, what you preach too much on, not preaching enough Scripture, preaching too much Scripture, which ministries you need to participate in, what families you need to talk to, what problems you should step in and solve, and the list goes on and on. And to all of that you handle it like Paul: “When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.” (1 Corinthians 4:12-13 NIV)
Not only do you have all of the above to contend with, then there is the fact that the VAST majority of people who want time with you are NOT coming to hang out. They are NOT coming to be your buddy and have a laugh. They are NOT coming to see what they can do to help you out. (Let me just stop right now and laugh at that one for a moment.) What they DO want is some sort of help, advice, guidance, service or answers. And you do your very best to meet each and every need.
You see, I DO see all of this.
The thing is, when you come home to me at night, you are NOT my pastor. And I am NOT your congregation. I am not your elder or church leader. I am not your staff. I am not your premarital counseling couple. I am not your troubled teenage addict. I am not the negative Nelly who walks into your office each day. I am not the person who has listened to every version of your sermon just to find the flaws. I am NOT your congregation.
I am your wife.
I am your lover.
I am your confidante.
I am your best friend.
And I am the safest human place you have to rest your soul.
As I said before, I see you at your best and I see you at your worst. Just like you see me. We will never be able to please each other 100% of the time, so that leads to the obvious that there WILL be times when I am hurt, disappointed or angry with you. But when I voice my feelings, please see your wife, your friend, your lover… not the critical congregation. Please respond to me in the way that is equal to the situation, rather than release all of the pent up frustration that you can’t show to others.
I love you—the good, the bad and the worst. So when I tease you about something or ask you to do something differently for me, I don’t have some hidden agenda. I’m not taking notes for your next evaluation. What you see is pretty face-value.
And you don’t have to solve all of my problems. I know I have had many, and I’m sure that I will have many more. Some have to do with the ministry, but some have to do with my job, or the family, or my health. I’m not coming to you to tell me all the answers (in fact, I’ll be glad to ask what you think). I’m not coming to you to GET anything. I simply want to SHARE our lives together.
Bottom line: I don’t really want you to be my pastor anyway. I only want you to be my husband.
“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7 NLT)