Role of the Pastor’s Wife

I have commented a number of times already on Kent & Barbara Hughes’ book, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. This time, I’ll point out that chapter 16 of that book, “How the Pastor’s Wife Can Help,” is probably the best brief piece I have ever seen on the role of the pastor’s wife. I often am asked for recommended writings on this topic, and this now tops my list. The chapter is written by Mrs. Hughes as she reflects on their years of ministry, particularly the moment when her husband felt crushed and ready to leave the pastorate.

Earlier in the book Kent related the incident fairly early in their marriage and ministry when he broke and finally blurted out to his wife, “God has called me to do something he hasn’t given me the gifts to accomplish. Therefore God is not good.” There in that moment a young wife was confronted with a broken man. Would she freak out, say this is not what she signed up for, flee in fear, or crush him in his moment of weakness? No. Kent’s account is marked with deep appreciation as he writes:

“…I was faltering. But I will never forget her kind and confident response. ‘I don’t know what you’re going to do. But for right now, for tonight, hang on to my faith. Because I believe. I believe that God is good. I believe that he loves us and is going to work through that experience. So hang on to my faith. I have enough for both of us.” (p. 23)

I get choked up even typing that because I have been the recipient of such love from my wife in a very different but just as debilitating circumstance. How many people have been blessed by the preaching and writing of Kent Hughes? Humanly speaking, he only persevered to become the pastor he was because of this ministry of his wife to him- a labor no one saw but many benefitted from.

Reflecting on this moment Mrs. Hughes writes:

Let me first say what I did not do. I did not attempt to mother Kent or give him pity. Neither did I attempt to come up with a scheme to make the church grow and thus save Kent’s “ministry” and preserve God’s reputation. Certainly I was tender and sympathetic and participated in the problem-solving and creative thinking. But a wife who allows her husband to wallow in self-pity or attempts to take over and solve things more often contributes to her husband’s loss of self-respect, and even effects a subtle emasculation. (170)

There is so much wisdom and good advice here.

In a summary point she also writes:

“Here, above everything else, I discovered that a pastor’s wife is exactly that, a wife. It startled and refreshed me to realize that Kent needed me as this. He didn’t need me to be his buddy, or his counselor, or even his co-pastor. He needed exactly what God had provided him with- a wife. (168)

The beauty and simplicity of wisdom!

This is a great resource that I recommend passing on to every pastor’s wife to encourage and help her.

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