For Pastors: A Unique Seat in the Audience of your Life
Every Sunday, you stand on a stage to share God’s message to people who are engaged, indifferent, or not physically present. You walk through the audience shaking hands, listening with concern, and loving those who may not love you back. You hear heart-wrenching stories of loss, life-changing sin, and gossip from angry people who have forgotten the mission and vision of the gospel. You may not complain, but sometimes you wonder if what you do makes a difference.
When the church doors shut and the lights are off, you immediately turn around to find only one human left. That is your helpmate, your partner (Genesis 2:18). She is the one person you do not have to impress in the room, but you so desperately want to. Her opinion matters more than anyone else’s in the room, outside of God’s. Why is that?
I believe it is due to one reason: she loves you unconditionally. She is your safe space and views marriage as more than just a commitment. It is a joyous adventure to walk through life together. She sees you deeper than others see you. Her focus is not on the added pounds, receding hairline, or the wrinkles around your eyes. She looks past all of the imperfections, sees the real you, and still loves you. Pastor, she is in the audience of your life.
Honoring and loving your wife well
She is the one God has called you to love and cherish (Ephesians 5:25). While that is a great responsibility, it is also a great privilege. She is in the audience listening to your sermons, critiquing your delivery, and reminding you to visit John in the hospital. She is often “backstage” in ministry, handing you the props and pulling back the curtain, but she is all in. So how can you reciprocate?
Here are five ways you can honor and love your wife well:
1. Be her confidant. You have to be relational all day so being relational when you get home can be a challenge. She deserves your relational energy too. You can ask her questions and listen to her even though you have listened to others all day long. You may be the only one she confides in or the only one who knows all that is on her plate. Take time to listen. It can be life-giving.
2. Help her combat the enemy’s tactics. When worry sneaks into her mind, help unpack those worries and shed light with the truth. Worry is a thief. It can steal joy, time, and health. If she believes these lies, it will ruin her confidence, friendships, and ministry. Continuously repeat the promises of God and how He has been faithful to her to protect her heart and ministry.
3. Be a grace-giver. Everyone has a bad day, makes mistakes, and sins. The world would say you have a license to fuss and complain. Instead, give her grace. Giving insight instead of judgment shows respect and builds trust. Your spouse is a safe place for you. Be one for her too.
4. Champion God’s Will for her life. The Lord has a plan for every believer. Because she is your wife, it is easy to forget that the Lord has more things in store for her as she grows in Christ. He may have gifted her with an incredible ability to paint, write, or sing. She may have the gift of evangelism and spend a lot of her relational energy sharing the gospel. My encouragement to you is to champion her gifts, find ways to support her, and encourage her along the way. Be her biggest cheerleader!
5. Be in her corner. I have never watched an entire boxing match in my life, but I do know that the boxer has someone in their corner giving encouragement, coaching, and patching up any visible wounds he can at the moment. This break gives the fighter momentum to get back in the ring and finish the fight. That coach continues to yell encouragement and strategies as the boxer is in the fight. When times get tough, be her coach and encourager. Let her know that you are in her corner so she can finish the fight.
After being married 25 years to a man in ministry, I can tell you that the stage is not always glorious and fulfilling. Along with your wife’s support, it is what happens backstage when no one else is looking that gives you the courage to stay in the fight. When you meet one-on-one with the Lord, it sharpens and shapes you to be a man of integrity in your ministry and marriage. The same can be said for your wife. It is not about what is done or said from the “stage” that brings fulfillment. It is what the Lord says to her when she meets alone with him. Pastor, hear me. The outpouring of unconditional love for your wife will be a direct result of your relationship with him. The same is true of her.
Your wife has a unique seat in the audience of your life. Be faithful in your pursuit of the Lord, and she will applaud.
Melanie Ratcliffe serves as an Evangelism Strategist for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, focusing on Ministry Evangelism and Women’s Ministry. She is a church planter’s wife, mother of 3, and former International Missions Board missionary to Russia.