October was a special month for our family. If you are in ministry, chances are it was a big deal for you, too. Why? It was Pastor Appreciation Month!
Luke and I consider ourselves supremely blessed to serve a congregation who takes this event to heart. Among the expressions of affection we received were home-cooked meals and goodies brought to our house, gift cards for dinner out and home improvement, notes of encouragement (often with a monetary gift inside), a gift certificate for a haircut from my favorite hairdresser, and various treats for the kids.
All of these things are tokens of gratitude for our entire family and believe me, we have no doubt our congregation loves us. However, our hubbies need applause and inspiration the other eleven months of the year too.
Hold that thought as I share this month’s question from Bethany. She asks:
“How can I be a better encouragement to my husband in his ministry? I know I was never meant to give him the guidance that only God can, but he gets down sometimes. I want to not only uplift his spirit in those down times, but to also spur him on to do his very best as God’s instrument.”
As the wife of a minister, one of our primary roles is to provide refreshment between Octobers when the days can sometimes feel long and thankless. Here are seven practical ways you can give your husband an extra boost just when he needs it most:
It is a given we should pray for our husbands. But, consider what it would mean to him if he were able to read your petitions on his behalf! Send him regular emails chronicling your prayers for him. If he doesn’t have a private e-mail address in his church office, set up a special account for him at a free email hosting site such as www.gmail.com. If your hubby is as tech savvy as mine, also be willing to teach him how to use it.
- Plan a lunch date
Because Luke and I have four children, eating out is a Sunday-Lunch-Only event. However, now that all the kids are in school, we often meet during the day at a restaurant with a cheap lunch menu. Not only is it an inexpensive date, but we are able to give one another undivided attention as we catch up on what is going on in each other’s schedule.
- Give full attention to his sermon prep.
I don’t know about your husband, but mine is encouraged by my undistracted concentration during his sermon preparation. Each week he walks me through what he plans to preach on Sunday to organize his own thoughts and to ask for my input. I am guilty of listening half-heartedly at times. (Luke, I can see you rolling your eyes.) Nothing says, “I respect you”, like eye contact.
Luke. I cannot make eye contact if you are still rolling yours. I promise I’ll do better.
- Run interference for him
One thing that zaps Luke’s energy is pettiness. Sisterhood, can we agree that most paltry issues originate in the female half of the species? When foolishness is brewing among the women folk, I do my best to quash the problem without Luke having to become involved. He is always relieved if I can prevent him from becoming embroiled in girl drama.
- Make home a relaxing place
Y’all, Luke is rolling his eyes again. For the record, making a peaceful home has really been an area where I’ve been convicted as of late. Our out-of-control schedule has resulted in bad attitudes and a stressed out family. I am not willing to let this environment continue and I consider it my job to change the mood in my home. Just this past week, I’ve started to get a handle on overflowing drawers and closets and have started some meal planning so we can hopefully have more dinners at the table in the coming weeks. I’ve also refused some activities we would have otherwise loved to attend because I recognize over-scheduling is at the root of all the other chaos.
My friend Joanne Heim (author of Living Simply) is hosting a blog conversation called, “Simplify Me” where I am also gleaning tips on streamlining our lives.
- Keep his Sundays sacred
I have a hard and fast rule not to nag Luke on Sundays. I’ve done it in the past and can testify that a good fight before he is supposed to preach is a true Spirit dampener. I’ve had to pray long and hard about it, but I can honestly say God has enabled me to release Luke to do his thing on Sundays without resenting him for leaving me home with the four kids to get ready by myself.
Whatever it takes, resist giving in to feelings of self-pity on the Lord’s Day. In other words, suck it up. Obviously, I’m not trying to minimize how hard it can be to feel like you are going it alone. However, there are six other days of the week to have that discussion with your husband. Sundays are off limits.
- Be spiritually mature.
This is a pre-requisite to being able to resist feelings of self-pity and neglect we just spoke of that can sometimes rear their ugly heads. I’m not saying they shouldn’t exist because our hubbies can become so ministry-minded they are no good at home. Obviously, that should never be, and I’m not at all suggesting you should remain silent if your home and relationship are suffering. But, I cannot tell you the number of ministry wives with whom I am acquainted who expect their husbands to be their Jesus. These men become the target of their wives’ own spiritual neediness who consequently guilt-trip him any time a situation and/or meeting forces him to be away from home. Girls, if you want to truly encourage your husband, be filled in your own relationship with the Father so that you overflow on him instead of suck him dry every time he hits the door.
Ultimately, our husbands need to know that we are on their side and support the work to which they are called. Try a few of these seven things and watch his smile brighten!
Again, let me say how very much I appreciate your insight and questions. Each of you inspire me to think more carefully on how I can be a better wife to my own husband and that you seek the same in your relationships.
I hope you will visit me at The Preacher’s Wife where there is a huge community of women just like you waiting to call you friend.
Also, please continue to send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next month!
©2008, Lisa McKay