Recently, my husband did an amazing job delving into 1 Corinthians 7 and answering some tough questions about the passage. Throughout the sermon, he made observations about marriage and focus and the husband and wife relationship. As I sat there, I realized I was the only person in the audience who really knew if I should respect the words coming out of his mouth. No one else is married to the preacher. No one else really knows how he treats his wife. No one but me, the preacher’s wife.
There are a lot of women who seem to despise the role of preacher’s wife for one reason or another. Be it the glass house, higher (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations, seeing ‘behind the curtain’ into unfortunate conversations and attitudes…who knows. Some women just really seem to not enjoy being the preacher’s wife, or even being called the preacher’s wife. Me? I don’t really get it.
As I was listening intently to the man I love open the Word that I love, I felt an incredible sense of blessedness. As a preacher’s wife, I get to be married to a man constantly engaged in deep Bible study. Married to a man who will consistently try to better himself, who will freely say I’m sorry, who will forgive me as Christ does. I get to be involved in many people’s lives. Help them through struggles. Greet them with love and cheer when their world might otherwise be in chaos. I get to teach, love, and serve in unique ways because of my proximity to God’s messenger. As one who wasn’t given the opportunity to fulfill that role (1 Tim. 2:12), this is the next best thing, isn’t it?
However, I can sort of understand where some women are coming from. They don’t necessarily thrive on being in the spotlight. They don’t handle awkward or probing questions well. They don’t enjoy being held to a different standard than others, but here’s the thing: we’ve got to get past all of that.
The fact of the matter is, if your husband is a preacher, you are held to a different standard. Your husband proclaims the word of God to groups of people multiple times throughout the week. He will speak on subjects like marriage, holiness, purity of speech and dress, and proper attitudes. Nothing he says will be taken seriously if his wife isn’t living what he preaches. Just like people won’t listen if his own life isn’t in order, the same can be said of his family. How could my husband have gotten into the pulpit Sunday and spoken boldly and confidently about God’s instruction on marriage if his own marriage wasn’t as God intended? It would have been hypocritical. And so, there’s a part I play in his preaching. There’s a standard that has to be different for me. Now, every Christian women should be striving to live to that standard as well, but other people’s souls don’t necessarily depend on that. In our case – they do. Souls will not listen to a preacher whose wife is out of control or standoff-ish. Souls will not feel at ease with a preacher whose wife seems to despise her role, wants to not be involved in all of the ways he’s asking the congregation to be involved. People will tune him out if they see his wife not behaving in a submissive way, a respectful way, a pure and holy way. People will laugh when he preaches on modesty if his wife is known for her low-cut attire.
It may not seem fair, but that’s the way it is. And I, for one, absolutely love it. Maybe it’s the competitive spirit within me, but when I know people are watching, I want to be better. When I know people will be studying me and my family, I want to be sure I am doing things exactly as Christ would have me to do them, lest they be lead in the wrong direction.
So, if you find yourself struggling in your role or nervous to get married to a preacher or bitter because people expect so much of you— change the way you think about it. Realize that God is using you in a unique way, and use your position as the preacher’s wife to help spread the truth of God through your pure, holy, Christ-seeking spirit and influence.