Caring for the ShepherdBy Kristen Wisen
September 1, 2020
Sheep love their shepherd. They follow him and they trust where he takes them. Because the sheep love their shepherd, they love the shepherd’s wife, as well. It’s a strange phenomenon, but it’s true.
I have been a pastor’s wife for almost ten years now and the outpouring of love for me by our church is overwhelming at times. Before my husband became a pastor, we both were immersed in the life of the church but from lay leadership positions. I taught bible studies, worked with the children, sang in choirs, and counseled – and did most of this quietly in the background. But when my husband became a pastor, though I continued to do pretty much the same things, I was inundated with attention and love from the congregation. Hmm…strange but true.
People I’ve never met before call me by name. I get hugs and tears thrust upon me on a regular basis. Women share what is happening in their lives, as if I have known them all my life. Why? Because they love their shepherd and I am his wife.
I think that sometimes we minimize the impact our husbands have on their congregations. We live with these men day in and day out; we’ve seen their high moments and plenty of their low ones. So, we tend to forget that for one hour every week, they have a captive audience who is counting on them to teach them about God, to give them truth and tell them how to use it. The Holy Spirit is working through our husbands to transform lives and since the congregation can’t give the Holy Spirit a hug and often it’s awkward to hug the pastor, they hug us. We are recipients of blessing, love and kindness because God is working through our husband’s lives.
It’s an awesome reality and it’s definitely a picture of the gospel, isn’t it? We are receiving something that we haven’t earned and don’t necessarily deserve.
In truth, we do have an incredible responsibility when it comes to the church. Many a pastor’s wife bears the weight of ministry expectations. Depending on giftedness and time of life, sometimes we can meet those expectations and other times we can’t. But there is one responsibility that we cannot neglect: we can’t ignore it, hand it off to another or make excuses why we are failing.
We must care for the shepherd.
Remember, the shepherd is not THE Shepherd. He is not God. He needs a helper to be complete, and that is you. And simply because he is a pastor doesn’t mean he is a superhero who doesn’t need the love and attention that a wife is called to give. He carries a great load—the burden of rightly dividing the Word of truth every day and of speaking that truth into lives on a constant basis. Now he might think he’s superhuman at times, but again, you are there to remind him that he is simply human and that sometimes he has to say, “No.”
The demands of ministry are great and they are mostly after hours. It would be wonderful if all problems would fall between 9 o’clock and 5 o’clock each day but in reality they tend to fall from 5pm to midnight and on weekends. Sometimes it may feel like we are competing with the church for our husband’s attention, but this cannot be an excuse for us to nag or neglect our responsibilities.
Here are a few reminders of what your husband needs:
- Clean socks and ironed shirts
- Hot meals with creative ingredients
- A pantry with his favorite cereal and snacks in it
- A clean home and an alarm clock that is easy to set
- Respectful words
- Tender touches
- An ear that will listen
- An eye that can see when he needs to be saved from a conversation
- A cheerleader who thinks he’s the best
- An assistant who oversees his schedule and helps him say “No”
The love that is poured out on each of us weekly cannot be earned, but it is a constant reminder that we have a shepherd in our care. Let us not forget the burden our husband bears on behalf of the church and let us seek to lighten his load by caring for him in a way that honors the Great Shepherd.