I never really gave much thought to the marriage of my own pastor, at least not until I was married to one. My husband and I have been married 12 years, but only in the past two years did we begin full-time ministry work. And I was surprised at the toll it took on our marriage. I mean, we have been through several job losses, baby losses, and money struggles that no young married couple should face. So why was this so hard?
11 Ways You Can Save Your Pastor’s Marriage
After being in full-time ministry for a while, I am convinced there are ways a church can and should love on their pastor and his family. In the same way, I am convinced there are some ways that a church can break a pastor. And the fastest way is through his marriage. If his marriage fails, he will fail. So here are 11 ways you can save your pastor’s marriage.
- PRAY!! – Yes, this needs to be mentioned. Don’t just pray for him to speak God’s Word boldly, but pray for his marriage.
- Love him – Love him not just as your pastor, but as a person. Get to know him — his likes and dislikes. He is a real person with real feelings and real hobbies outside the church.
- Love his family – When you love his wife and children, he will THRIVE!! When at church functions, most of the time the pastor’s wife is flying solo because he has other responsibilities. Help his wife out, love on his children, and he will be free to concentrate on his ministry and the members of the church more fully.
- Invite them over – Nothing makes you feel more lonely than when no one in the church wants to invite you over to their home. Now, I know we have 4 children and that can be overwhelming for some people, especially if their home isn’t “child proof,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t meet up at a park where the kids can play and run. Most likely your pastor is not near his own family, so they don’t have “big family Sunday dinners” to attend. And since they work on the weekends, they don’t have weekends off to visit their family. But it doesn’t have to be Sunday. Invite them over for a fun game night or just a time to hang out and talk. I would also encourage elders to invite the pastors over as well, since they know the goings on of the church and can be a support and encouragement to each other outside the board room. This will show your pastor you believe in him for more than just the work he does at the church.
- Encourage him – This one is two-fold. While many pastors get their fair share of complaints, they need to hear the positives as well. Did their message challenge you? Did the Lord speak to you during the message? “Nice job” is good to hear, but since the message is not about your pastor and his ability to “wow” you, let him know when God is moving in your life. When he knows the Lord is working among His people, your pastor will be refreshed, encouraged, and free to truly minister to his church. And trust me…this does affect them at home. The second part of this is to encourage him to take time off to replenish his soul. When his soul is weary and burdened for the church, he needs time away from the office and people to listen to God. To reconnect with his Creator. Allow him that time.
- Marriage retreats – Encourage your minister and his wife to attend marriage retreats. Whether specifically for pastors or not, they need to be able to reconnect as a married couple and with other married couples!! Bonus points if you pay for them to attend! And on that note…I move on to the next point.
- Offer to babysit – I cannot stress this one enough! If your pastor lives far from family, they will likely have little support in a new community. If they are new to the community, they will not have access to sitters — at least not until they get to know people. Offer to watch their kids so they can have a much-needed night out and time to reconnect with each other. Pastor’s are not “in it for the money,” believe me. So many of them may not have the money to pay a sitter and go out for a nice dinner. We know families are busy and life is crazy for most people, so we will not seek out people to watch our kids if we can’t afford a sitter — so offer. Please.
- Respect his time – Yes, he is your pastor. Yes, he is the one you probably want to speak with when you have an issue. However, please understand that he has a family and they need time together, too. While they don’t mind attending events on occasion, it is difficult to have family time if they are expected to attend games, award ceremonies, or birthday parties every night of the week. Respect his office hours or make an appointment to speak with him outside those hours. Avoid calling him at all hours of the evening and night, unless it is an emergency — then by all means…CALL!! When you call him at home, try to keep your conversations short and concise. If you need more time, he will be happy to make an appointment with you — just ask!
- Accountability – Accountability is so important in the pastoral role. They see so many people in their office for counseling sessions that it is important to give them accountability. Years ago before we were ever married, my husband and I decided on “rules” when he became a pastor somewhere. We talked about how men should never be seen alone with a woman other than their wife. We talked about how he would never take the female babysitter home by himself. Counseling sessions can be iffy, but it is important to make sure the pastor is not put in a compromising position. That is not good for him or the counseled. I recommend making appointments when someone else can be present at the church, so no questions are raised and there are witnesses. I’ve seen too many pastors hurt by false accusations to let this one slide. And on the flip side, I’ve seen too many fall prey to their own temptations when left alone.
- Don’t treat his wife like she’s on staff – Unless you hire his wife as a paid staff member, do not treat her as such. Do not assume she knows the ins and outs of his ministry, because most likely she doesn’t. Allow her to use her talents in the area God leads her. Now, I have helped out in many areas of service and have enjoyed each of them for a short time. But when I was allowed to serve where God led me, I was blessed beyond measure. Please don’t take that blessing away from her just because she’s the pastor’s wife.
- Allow him to be honest – Your pastor is human. He will fail and he will be tempted, so allow him to be honest about those temptations. He will have real struggles, both personally and spiritually. Allow him to share his struggles without repercussion that his job will be in jeopardy (barring an ethical or moral sin). It is important that he knows he can be honest with the elders of the church in confidence. And if needed, he can seek counseling.
What are some ways you have encouraged and built up your pastor’s marriage?
Guest Post Author:
Annette has been married to her husband and best friend for 11+ years. Together they are raising their four children to follow the Lord’s will, no matter what. Annette longs for the day when she will meet her angel babies who have entered heaven before her. She enjoys creating UNIT STUDIES with FREE PRINTABLES for homeschool families and she gets her scrapbooking fix in by making Subway Art for herself and her readers. You can follow her crazy life at In All You Do where she blogs about homeschooling, gluten- and grain-free recipes, homemaking, the occasional DIY projects and maintaining her sanity. You can also keep up with her via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.