March 14, 2016

3 Reasons a Pastor Should Accept Encouragement from His Wife

“Thank you for preaching to us. That was food for my soul. Such a good sermon!”

I spoke across the front seat of our minivan on the way home from church. My husband gripped the wheel with both hands and shrugged briefly. Then, he smiled at me. In his slightly upturned lips and affectionate eyes, I read: “you-are-only-saying-that-because-you-are-my-biggest-fan-but-thanks-anyway.”

He was right, in one way. I am his biggest fan, and that does compel me to say encouraging words to him. But—as we have learned together over the years of our marriage—being a fan does not discount the cheering.

A pastor can receive encouragement from his wife. He can welcome it, not as something inferior, or as something tainted, but as a good gift from the Lord and as a precious fruit of his ministry.

I humbly offer these words in case other couples in ministry have the same struggle—and with the hope that my brothers in ministry might more fully benefit from the encouragement of their wives, my sisters.  Dear pastor, please remember:

(1) Your wife is also your sister.

Before your wife was your wife, she was your Christian sister. And long after she is your wife—for all eternity, in fact—she will still be your sister. She is bound to you because you are both bound to Christ, and this means she must encourage you.

Every command to “one another” in Scripture is a command she must follow. She is directed three times in the New Testament (1 Thess. 5:11, 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:12) to encourage you—as you are to encourage her—and she cannot do otherwise. Furthermore, the Lord commands her to respect you (1 Thess. 5:12), to esteem you highly in love (1 Thess. 5:13), to give you honor (1 Tim. 5:17), and to further your joy (Heb. 13:17) not because she is your wife, but because she is your sister and you are her pastor.

(2) Your wife has had the greatest opportunity to be shaped by your ministry.

Chances are, your wife has heard you preach more than any other individual on earth. Every time—or nearly every time—the church doors open, she is there, sitting in the third pew with her Bible and her notebook. She has heard your best sermon. She has heard all your ordinary sermons. She has even heard the one that, despite all the prayers and sighs and tears, just never came together.

She knows your hermeneutic and your eschatology. She knows what moves you to tears and what causes you to shout. She knows the themes of Scripture that are dearest to your heart. Truly, she knows the scope and weight of your ministry like she knows the lines on her own face.

And it has changed her.

These sermons—not just one or two, but hundreds of them—have shaped her soul, have caused her to see her sin and to love her Savior, caused her to seek the good of her neighbor, caused her to treasure the Word, and caused her to become more like Jesus. Is it any wonder she says she is thankful? And would you hope anything different for someone else in the pews?

Your wife has also prayed for the success of your ministry like no one else. She has lifted your sermons, in their preparation and in their presentation, to the Throne. She has sat in the pews and prayed as you preached and prayed as you prayed.

Her words of encouragement, then, are exultation in God’s faithful answer. They are a testimony that the Lord has heard the cries of his daughter. Rejoice with her!

(3) Your wife was given by God to encourage you.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he says that “tak[ing] along a believing wife” (1 Cor. 9:5) is regularly one of God’s good gifts to gospel ministers. Like money and food (9:6), the believing wife is a provision for the pastor’s needs and a relief in his trials. She is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. She is designed for his good.

In the church and in the world you will sometimes encounter people who say critical things with a mean spirit, people who say nice things with intent to manipulate you, and people who don’t say anything at all. It’s not always easy to tell where people’s comments (or silences) are coming from.

That’s partly why God gave you a wife, a helper fit for you (Gen. 2:18). Her comments—both encouraging and constructive—consistently come from a heart of love. More than anyone besides Christ himself, she wants you to succeed, to be useful in the kingdom, to flourish, to rejoice, to grow in holiness, and to increase in love for the Lord. You can trust her words.

Is she objective? No, but neither is God. God himself is extremely partial in his love for you, delighting in you for no other reason than that it is his sovereign pleasure to do so. The encouragement of your wife is like the “well done” of your Father: entirely biased and absolutely vital.


  1. "Is she objective? No, but neither is God. God himself is extremely partial in his love for you, delighting in you for no other reason than that it is his sovereign pleasure to do so. The encouragement of your wife is like the “well done” of your Father: entirely biased and absolutely vital." -- yes! What an insightful thought.

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