Guest Posts

Guest Post: 8 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor’s Wife

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

 

8 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor’s Wife
by Jennifer Buck

As a pastor’s wife, I have seen many lists of ways to “pray for your pastor.” I admit, I usually scroll through and delete them as I find most to be…well…generic.

Michelle, however, actually hit the pulse of what a pastor really needs in our prayers. I found myself reading and inwardly shouting, “YES! This is exactly what pastors need.”.

Then my mind began forming a list of what their wives need in our prayers—more than just physical strength and a good group of friends. Although those things are important, I believe these other areas, as they are cultivated in her life would result in physical endurance and draw women wanting friendships with her.

I don’t think a pastor’s wife should live or look differently than any other believer in Christ. However, I do think she’s in this sometimes awkward but wonderful position of having a pulse on the heart of the church her husband serves and is so heavily invested in.

She’s an insider, but not really; it’s complicated. She may know a lot of what’s happening, but may have no leadership position. Even if she does, she’s limited to the scope of the area of which she heads.

She is not a female version of her husband. She is usually looked to as an over all leader by the people, but has no authority to act independently as a decision maker. Therefore, it does take an extra measure of grace to be acutely aware of the inner workings of the church but often only able to watch, offer ideas or opinions when asked, or mostly, wait as the leaders/committees make the decisions that will shape the church.

With those things in mind, if I were asked what to pray for me or any pastor’s wife, this would be my list:

1

Pray she has a deep love for the people in her church. There is a special love that can be developed for the Lord’s church. She doesn’t have to intimately know each person to hold a deep and genuine concern for their well-being and spiritual development.

2

That she loves the Lord God with all her heart and soul and mind. Being in the ministry does not guarantee that a once teachable heart cannot grow cold. Her personal walk must not be neglected in the doing of ministry. She needs to operate with a steady and sound mind.

3

That she delights in caring for her family/home. Her husband’s role will by necessity make his presence in the home sometimes erratic as he cares for the church. She needs to be the steady presence in the home. Her attitude will help form the opinion of her children about the church and the demands on their father. She will also need to be able to alert her husband when the needs of the home are greater for a period of time. Sometimes in ministry, the church will need his attention more than home and at other times the family will need his attention more. A wise wife will help him see the greater needs and willingly allow him to be where he is needed the most.

4

Pray she is able to submit to the reality that her daily living will serve as a model for others. She will naturally be looked to as an example, and she needs to be willing to live a life that reflects well the work of Christ in her.

5

That she does not have a grudge-holding heart. Ministry can be hard. Sometimes hurtful things are said and done and a pastor’s wife will not endure well if she carries the offenses of her husband. She must be able to take her hurt to the Lord and be willing to remind her husband, when he forgets, to lay his grievances before the cross also.

6

She needs to be able to allow her husband time to grieve in situations she cannot help him through. Sometimes he carries a grief no one but the Lord can lighten. He must simply walk through it.

7

That she be less concerned about what others think of her and more concerned about pleasing the Lord. That will provide much protection for her heart.

8

That she learns contentment and finds comfort in the knowledge that her personal and family needs will be provided by the Lord – in his time. Pray she functions knowing, “When I need it, it will be provided, if I don’t have it, I don’t need it yet.”

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, these are just some of the things I have had to walk through and learned how to process in my years as a pastor’s wife. I’ve seen many other wives do these things well and watched them flourish in home and church. Others have not fared so well and I have watched with sadness as their marriage and ministry either crumbled or lost all effectiveness.

There is no doubt that ministry has its hard moments, however, it is also an amazing journey to be a part of laboring alongside your husband and witnessing the transforming work of the Gospel. Praying for your pastor and his wife can be a way for the church family to participate in the continuation and transforming work of the Gospel in the hearts of those who lead them.


Jennifer and her husband, Tom have been married for 32 years and have 3 children. For the last 13 years they have been serving in Lindale TX, where Tom is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church. Jennifer is one of the teachers in the church’s Women’s Bible Study Fellowship and leads a small group discipleship called Gracestoration. Jennifer loves to teach and encourage women in the truths of Scripture.

Guest Posts, Ministry, Prayer

Guest Post: 7 Ways You Might Not Know You Need to Pray for Your Pastor ~ Part 2

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

7 Ways You Might Not Know
You Need to Pray for Your Pastor
Part 2

by Pastor John Chester

This is Part 2 of the article. You can read Part 1 here.

He is affected by counseling

It is a great privilege and joy to counsel God’s people. It is an absolute joy to point them to the cross and the sure hope we have in Christ. It is a wonderful privilege to see people change in response to God’s word and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I love counseling and I’m sure your pastor does too. I don’t want anyone to reach the wrong conclusion that your pastor would be served by your not coming to him or that you can serve him by keeping your trouble to yourself. We need to and should rejoice in bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). Yet the fact is it can take a toll. A true shepherd loves the sheep, and he hates to see them hurting. Your pastor knows the pain in your church family in ways you do not. He knows who has trouble in their marriage, who is struggling with a rebellious teen, who is living with acute chronic physical pain, who has a besetting sin, who is on the verge of hopelessness and so much more. And his heart breaks over all of that. I don’t know a single pastor who hasn’t wept after a counseling session, and I don’t know a single pastor who hasn’t had some version of the conversation with their wife where their wife notices right away they are obviously down and sorrowful and asks why and they respond, “It’s a counseling thing, I shouldn’t talk about it.”.

And it can be even harder when he has to rapidly shift gears from weeping with those who weep to rejoicing with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15). Counseling is my absolute favorite thing to do in ministry, it brings me great joy, but one hour of counseling wears me out as much as ten hours of studying or four hours of administrative work.

How you can pray for your pastor: Pray for the empowering of the Holy Spirit during counseling sessions, pray that counseling would make him long more intensely for heaven, and pray that he would be able to sleep at night.

He lives on wartime footing

Once, when I was fly fishing at a small hike-in lake in the reassuringly-named Bear Tooth Mountains in Montana, I was having such good luck I fished the entire evening rise. As I packed up my gear in the gloaming for the 3½ mile hike down single track to the trail head and my car, I realized that I smiled like fish, and my wader, wading boots, net, and the rest of the gear I was about to strap to my back smelled like fish too.  So, to any bears that happened to live in the Bear Tooth Mountains, it would smell like a giant trout was walking through the woods.

As I hustled down the two foot hide trail that wound through dense woods, I was hyper-vigilant knowing that an attack could come from the right, left, front, or back, and that if it came it would be sudden and savage. Not only was I an the lookout for the attack to come, I was expecting it. So, as I made my way down the trail yelling, “Hey Bear!” I was thinking about how to respond to the various ways the attack could come.

Thankfully the attack never did come, but the memory of that dark jog through the woods is etched upon my mind. I’ll never forget that feeling. And it is the closest thing to the feeling of being faithfully vigilant in ministry I can think of. Paul told the Ephesian elders that ravenous wolves would rise up from among them and that they needed to be alert and to follow his example of persistent vigilance and purposeful teaching (Acts 20:29-31). Vicious, violent attacks against the church can come from anywhere and at anytime.

Lest you think I am exaggerating, let me tell you that every man I know in the ministry who has served for ten years or more has faced at least one serious existential attack against the church he serves. And truthfully it averages about once every 2.5 years. Let me tell you about the two serious existential threats we have fought off in our five years here at Piedmont Bible Church.

One that I saw coming was that we had a number of families (a large enough number to alter the complexion of our small church) who came with the intention to take directional control of the church and steer it toward the Family Integrated Church movement. I saw this coming because I am friends with a pastor in a neighboring town whose church had been attacked by this group of marauders. I was able to recognize them and drive them off before they could cause any mischief.

One attack took me entirely by surprise. A man who had been vetted for years, who had been examined by the church and appointed to the office of elder, within sixty days of becoming an elder demanded that the church functionally abandon sola scriptura in favor of making the traditions of men binding for the church. He sought to elevate the traditions of the church he grew up in – regarding music, dress, and the exercise of Christian freedom in a myriad of areas – to be on par with the authority of Scripture. He went so far as to say that there were no categories of preference or wisdom in the Christian life or the life of the church and that if you were truly sanctified, the Bible gave you a definitive (yes or no) answer to every question. Although he would angrily say his position was scriptural, he saw things as diverse as VBS, singing Amazing Grace accompanied by any instrument other than the piano, and people wearing the wrong colored shirt when teaching or leading in any capacity in a corporate setting as fitting into the phrase “and things like these” in Galatians 5:19-21.

And here is the remarkable thing, when I confided in a mentor that in the midst of this crisis I was so stressed and worn out that I hadn’t slept in weeks and that I had been vomiting blood, he didn’t say that was the worst thing he had ever heard (as I expected), he said, “Welcome to ministry. You need to learn to take care of yourself.” It’s not that he was unsympathetic or compassionate – without his advice, comfort, compassion, and actual practical help I don’t know if I would have made it through – it was that out of love he wanted me to know that this is what it is like. Ministry is a battle. It is no accident that Paul uses so much military language and imagery when he wrote to Timothy and Titus.

The kicker is that while this conflict was raging I worked hard to protect the church from it and from the knowledge of it. Although the battle raged for eight months, until the final week of the conflict (by which time other pastors and counselors were deeply involved), no one in the church outside of leadership knew that this battle for the life of the church was going on. A good shepherd doesn’t alarm the sheep, he protects them. If you have been at your church for five years and you have never heard of anything like this happening, it is more likely that you have a very good shepherd than a church that has never come under attack.

Additionally, pastors (and their wives) are often subjected to personal attacks. I’ve been told angrily that I am a liar who is disqualified from ministry because I turned over a cushion without telling anyone. I’ve been told I dress too nice/not nice enough for a pastor. And I’ve been led away from the church in handcuffs for removing political signs placed on church property without permission.

Every day when pastors go to work they are in a fight. It’s not hyperbole and there is no other way to put it. That in no way eliminates or even dampens the joy of pastoral ministry, but it is true. And living that way can take a toll. One of the risks is exhaustion, fatigue, and burnout. Find someone who boxed growing up and also played a sport in college and then ask them, “What took more out of you, three minutes of fighting or sixty minutes of lacrosse/football/hockey/basketball or whatever sport you played?”. They will all say the three minutes of fighting. Fighting and being ready to fight just takes a lot out of you.

And it can make you cynical. There is a fine line between learning to have a thick skin and building up callouses. After my battle with the false elder, my wife said to me, “Well, you learned a lot.”  I replied, “I learned that I’ll never again trust a man who didn’t play Little League.” I was only half kidding (probably down to 12% by now).

[Special note: It is always enormously sad when a pastor fails morally.  I am convinced that many more are casualties of war, than double agents who were exposed. A pastor who falls into sexual sin is permanently disqualified (Proverbs 6:32-33), but he should be treated according to Galatians 6:1.]

How to pray for your pastor: Pray that the Lord would protect him as he protects you. Pray that he would not become jaded and would love as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Pray that no matter what is going on that his time of study would be a refuge and a refreshment to him.

He gets discouraged

If there is one thing I can say with 100% certainty of all pastors it is that they are all human. And because they are human sometimes they get discouraged. Some are more prone to discouragement than others, and it is not a weakness or a flaw. God uses all kinds of men. Spurgeon famously called his depressive, discouraged mood “the black dog” and said sometime he was on the verge of tears for no apparent reason.

While some pastors are more prone to melancholy moods that others, every pastor I know has experienced this acutely, sharply and often enough to talk about it. In fact, there is a kind of gallows humor among pastors about how bad Mondays are and how you should never resign on a Monday.  

Most faithful pastors I know are estranged from at least some of their extended family because of ministry and fidelity to Scripture. My wife once overheard my older brother (who I looked up to and adored growing up) say he wouldn’t come to a family gathering if I was there because he couldn’t take my “Jesus ‘stuff’” (he didn’t say “stuff”). I know a man whose parents won’t speak to him because he left a lucrative, high prestige career to become a pastor. I know another who is told to just stay in the basement after dinner on holidays by his wife’s family.

Every faithful pastor has known the pain and disappointment of having someone he has poured into, discipled, and taught walk away from the faith (or at least the church), not to mention the pain that comes when people you love, have invested in, and count on as key contributors to the ministry of the church simply move away. The day after he was confirmed into the office of elder, our first elder as a new church plant was downsized and had to move away. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t find that discouraging.

Every faithful pastor has been deeply wounded by someone he thought of as a friend and ally. In fact, this is so common that a proverbial saying among seminary professors that all seminary students roll their eyes at is, “The man who brought you in will be the man who tries to take you out.” While that may not always be true, it is true often enough that no pastor five years in would roll his eyes.

Add to all of that how in pastoral ministry you can do everything “right” and not be “successful.” No other vocation that I have experienced is like that in any way. There is a popular preacher and conference speaker who often says to pastors (and those training for the ministry) that if you take care of the depth of your ministry, God will take care of he breadth. But what no one says is that sometimes the breadth is 40 people. The median size of an evangelical church in the U.S. is 184 but more than half have less than 75 regular attenders. The very best pastor I know has been faithfully preaching, teaching, and discipling for over thirty years at a Reformed Baptist church that has never cracked the 100 member mark. He has missed probably 500 weeks’ pay over that time as he always allowed his salary to be cut out of the budget when there wasn’t enough financial support to do the work of the ministry.

Oh, and everything that is common to believers and can drive them to discouragement, pastors also experience. They get sick and injured, they get flat tires, they experience the loss of loved ones, they have unexpected financial expenses, their dogs die. And they sin too. Even Paul was overcome at this, saying that he didn’t do the good he wanted to, that he did the wrong he despised, and called himself wretched (Romans 7:15-24).

You hear a lot about pastoral burnout, depression and how few ordained men actually retire from or die in pastoral ministry, but I don’t think it is really a matter of burnout or depression. More often than not I think it is profound, prolonged and unaddressed discouragement. Even in churches that are great at the “one anothers”, the pastor(s) are often viewed as “other”, not “another”. No one thinks to encourage them (other than in preaching), and their burdens are not borne (Galatians 6:2).

How to pray for your pastor: Pray that he would see enough of the Lord working that he would be encouraged that the Lord is at work through his ministry. Pray that the Lord’s grace would always be sufficient for him. Pray that the Lord would guard his heart from discouragement and pastoral jealousy. Pray that the Lord would strengthen him when he is weak and lift him up when he is down.

When Michelle asked me to write this post some months ago she said I could write it and she could publish it anonymously. I appreciated that. But the more I thought about it, the less attractive that option was. Here is why: I want everyone to know this isn’t a list of gripes written by someone who regrets being in ministry. I love pastoral ministry I love preaching, I love teaching, I love counseling, I love praying for the people of the church, and all of these things are absolutely true. Pastors are immensely blessed and privileged to do what we do, but we all (even your favorite radio preacher and your pastor) have feet of clay. And we are part of the body of Christ, just like you. But pastors have a unique role in the body, and by pulling back the curtain I hope I made it a little easier to understand and pray for your pastor.

And if you think of it say a prayer for me too. I need it.


John Chester is the pastor of Piedmont Bible Church, a Grace Advance church plant in Haymarket, Virginia. Prior to ministry John worked as a lacrosse coach, a pizza maker, a writer, a marketing executive, and just about everything in between. He hails from The City of Champions: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is blessed to be married to his wife Cassandra. Read John’s blog articles at ParkingSpace23, and read more of John’s excellent posts for Michelle Lesley here.


Pastors and pastor’s wives-
What would you add to this list of things that church members
may not know to pray for their pastors about?

Church, Marriage, Ministry

The Mailbag: My husband is a pastor. How do we know when it’s time to leave a church?

 

My wonderful conservative, seminary-trained pastor husband is in such a battle against evil forces in our church. 

There are a few women members who are angry he doesn’t endorse their favorite false teacher, women preachers, or women teaching men. Another woman, who was actively involved in two previous church splits is stirring up division.

Praise God our church has attracted strong Christian men who have come alongside my husband, standing firm, supporting Biblical Truth. When does one know when it’s God’s testing or when He’s nudging to move us along? I don’t enjoy seeing my husband hurt. Do you have any advice?

I can definitely empathize with your situation. As I’ve mentioned in the past, my husband is a minister of music, and God has seen fit to send us to several…shall we say… “challenging” churches in the past. Most have been smaller churches in which the only staff members were my husband and the pastor, so my husband had more of a leading elder-type role than a minister of music in a larger church with several on-staff pastors might have.

We have also faced this dilemma of “We don’t want to give up just because it’s difficult, but maybe these difficulties are God’s way of telling us it’s time to shake the dust off our feet and move on to somewhere where we can be more biblically productive.” It can be a confusing situation to be in because you want to be pleasing to the Lord and serve His people, but the Bible speaks to both hanging in there through adversity and leaving people who refuse to be led as appropriate in various situations.

Like so many scenarios in life, there’s no “one size fits all” answer because every situation is different. But maybe we can look at a few basic principles that can help ministry wives (and even those whose husbands aren’t in the ministry) when church difficulties strike and you’re wondering whether or not to leave.

Take Off the Rose-Colored Glasses

If you’re new to being a ministry wife, you may have romanticized ideas of what it will be like. It’s no accident that God calls pastors “shepherds.” Shepherding is not like those pastoral landscape paintings you’ve seen where the shepherd is sitting under a stately, spreading tree on lush carpet of verdant grass by a babbling brook, happily petting a docile lamb. There are moments like that, but generally, shepherding is hard, hot, sweaty, often thankless, often underpaid, tireless labor. Sheep can be stubborn animals who have no idea where to go, what to do, or what’s best for them, and leading them is, at times, no picnic.

I don’t say this to discourage you, only to make sure that you’re going in to this thing with your eyes wide open. No pastor steps into the pulpit at a perfect, problem-free church. Every church has its issues. You need to be prepared for that, and you need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and work, not run, the first time a problem comes up. The church isn’t there to serve you. You are there to serve the church.

Pray, Pray, Pray, and Don’t Jump Ship at the First Sign of Trouble

All of us should be praying for our churches daily, but we need to double down when problems arise. Pray for all those involved in the problem, including your husband.

We also need to initially approach problems with the desire to work through them and bring them to a point of biblical resolution. As a ministry wife, if you approach every problem that arises in the church with an attitude of despair, giving up, and wanting to leave the church, it’s going to discourage your husband. Now, not only does he have the problem itself to deal with, he has the added pressure of making his wife happy. Try to be part of the solution rather than an added problem.

Remember – and Be Thankful for – Your Position

When you’re a ministry wife, especially in a small church, it can feel like you and your husband are both in his ministry position. You’re probably helping him with various job-related tasks, you know all the problems and issues that are going on in the church, you talk together about possible solutions, you know about the big meeting that’s coming up, etc. It even comes out in the way we talk sometimes: “When we pastored ABC Church…” or “When we were on staff at XYZ Church…” (I finally realized I needed to be more careful about using that kind of wording so that people would not think I was a co-pastor!)

But, even though it can feel like you’re shouldering almost as big a load as your husband, you’re not. You’re not the pastor. You’re also not the husband. Be thankful for that because it’s one of the blessings of being a woman. You’re the helper. You do everything you can to help, support, and encourage your husband, but the burden and responsibility of making the decision whether to leave or stay is on his shoulders, not yours. Be grateful, and use that relief you feel to help you understand what enormous pressure your husband is under. He has to make the right and godly decision for the church, for his family, and for his career. That’s a heavy weight.

Not My Will, but Thy Will

Examine your own heart before attempting to help your husband. Do you really want what God wants in this situation, or do you want what you want? Will you be able to joyfully, peacefully, and contentedly stay at a church you want to leave or leave a church you want to stay at? Ask God to so delight your heart in Him that your desires will match His and that He will help you to pray rightly and act wisely and obediently.

Pray for Your Husband

Ask God to give him the biblical wisdom to make the right decision about staying or leaving. Pray that God will give him peace, strength, and comfort. Ask that He will bring the right Scriptures to your husband’s mind at just the right time. Ask God to make His will clear to your husband.

In one church my husband and I were on staff at :0) the situation was very 50/50 as to whether we should stay or go. We studied the Scriptures and found support for staying as well as for leaving. We really didn’t know what to do.

After much discussion and prayer, we decided we would stick with this church until God moved us. I began praying that if God wanted us to leave that He would make it impossible for us to stay. And a few months later, that’s exactly what happened. God orchestrated circumstances in such a way that it was impossible for us to stay at that church. It brought both of us a great deal of peace to know that we were not giving up just because it was difficult, but that God was answering prayer and moving us Himself.

Study Your Bible

In the situation I just described, my husband and I didn’t find overwhelming Scriptural evidence that made his decision a clear-cut one. That’s not always the case. Sometimes you will find clear biblical support for staying or for leaving.

Ask your husband if it would be helpful to him for you to search the Scriptures for passages that apply to the situation at your church. Be careful to rightly handle God’s Word in context, and discuss the passages objectively with your husband. Make sure you’re not twisting Scripture in an effort to sway your husband to do what you want him to do.

Be Your Husband’s Biggest Supporter and Encourager

Pray fervently for your husband, and let him know you’re praying for him. Affirm him by reminding him that you trust him, that he’s doing a good job, that you’re proud of him. When he’s under a lot of stress at church, do what you can to offer practical help, perhaps by running errands for him or taking over some of his household chores. Make sure he’s getting the amount of joyful physical intimacy he needs from you. Do what you can to make sure he’s eating right and getting the amount of rest he needs. Most of all, let him know you’re behind him and that you’ll support his decision about staying or leaving.

When we were trying to decide whether to stay at or leave the aforementioned church, one thing that helped take some of the pressure off my husband was that I told him, “If you decide we’re leaving, I’m ready to walk out that door. But if you decide we’re staying, I’m ready to stay and keep working.” Knowing he had my support either way helped him to be able to focus on what God wanted him to do rather than what I wanted him to do.

 

The decision to stay at or leave a difficult church is often tedious and stressful for pastors. It’s hard for us, as their wives, to watch them suffer at the hands of trouble-making people. Our position as helpmates is to do everything we can on our part to make things easier on them.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Guest Posts, Ministry, Prayer

Guest Post: 7 Ways You Might Not Know You Need to Pray for Your Pastor ~ Part 1

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

7 Ways You Might Not Know
You Need to Pray for Your Pastor
Part 1

by Pastor John Chester

Being a pastor is odd. There is no other way to put it. It is entirely unique. No other profession or vocation or calling is like pastoral ministry. That is not to say it is better or more noble. It isn’t, it’s just different. Really different. (And it is certainly not to say that I am somehow superior, better, more valuable to the Kingdom, or holier. As one of my favorite seminary professors said to a class of future pastors, “You know why God calls men like you to pastoral ministry? Because you were the worst available.”)  

But pastoral ministry is unique, it is a unique job, it is a unique calling, and it is a unique lifestyle. And every pastor needs prayer, desperately. Most believers pray for their pastors (Thank you!). One of the questions I am often asked is, “How can I pray for you?” I am always happy to answer, but frankly I don’t think I have ever thought to ask for prayer related to the uniqueness of pastoral ministry. I know that you want to pray effectively and specifically for your pastor, so I am going to let you in on some inside baseball. Here are seven things you may not know about pastoral ministry and your pastor.

He is often under deep conviction

You know that sermon on that hard text that had you squirming in your seat about eight minutes in because the Word of God was so clear and strong in saying that you are in sin? Well your pastor has lived in that passage all week and has probably been thinking about it for weeks or even months. I remember after I had preached James 3:1-12 a dear saint coming up to me after the worship service and saying how hard it was to sit through that message because of how convicting it, and that text was. I said something along the lines of, “I know, we all fail to control our tongue as we should,” but what I was thinking was, “I know and if you think it was hard to listen to for 45 minutes, imagine studying for 45 hours for those 45 minutes.”

Don’t get me wrong, it is a great blessing to spend so much time and to be able to spend so much time studying God’s Word, even and especially the deeply convicting passage. Full stop. Yet is also true that it is emotionally draining to spend so much time in those passages. A few years ago I received an angry email from a visitor to the church (the time stamp on the email indicated that he must have written it on his phone in the parking lot), and his complaint was he didn’t feel uplifted by the sermon. Of course he didn’t feel uplifted by the sermon, no one did. Like everyone else, he was deeply convicted by it, the text was Mark 9:42-50, where Jesus says if your hand causes you to sin cut it off. I was preaching that sermon to myself when I was walking the dog on Thursday morning. Of the many things that I didn’t expect in pastoral ministry this is probably the most significant one.

How to pray for your pastor: Pray that when he is under powerful conviction of his own sinfulness the Lord would use it to conform him to the image of Christ, that he would feel the power and weight of forgiveness in Christ and that the Lord would bring passages like Colossians 2:13-15 and Psalm 103:10-13 to his mind.

He works a lot

I’ll not beat around the bush, I don’t know a single pastor that works less than 55 hours a week. Most of them work 60+ hours a week. Most church member know their pastor works a lot, but here is what you might not realize – the smaller the church, as a rule, the more hours the pastor works. It is very easy to think (or not to think about it at all) that your pastor doesn’t have the workload and responsibility of that famous pastor with a huge church, but he does, and probably much more to boot. It goes without saying that small church pastors spend as much time laboring in prayer and study as pastors with big churches (at least they should).

But small church pastors do something (often everything) else too; they are often the chief maintenance man, the church secretary, the webmaster, the youth pastor, the counseling pastor, the director of Christian education, etc., as well as the preaching pastor. Maybe you think, “Sure, but our church has three staff pastors and a secretary.”. To put that into perspective, the large church associated with my seminary has 14 staff pastors, staff elders who oversee non-pastoral areas of responsibility, and a veritable army of support staff and compensated interns. And that is in no way a criticism of that church. I rejoice that there are so many hands to make the work lighter, but the thing is that huge church has no more kinds of ministry going on that your small church. Your church probably doesn’t have a thousand kids in Sunday School, but it has Sunday School. Your church may not have hundreds of people in counseling at a time, but your pastors counsel people. You get the idea.

How to pray for your pastor: Pray that he would find refreshment in his work, that the Lord would move in the hearts of the saints to motivate them to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12), that the Lord would provide him with the rest and respite he needs (remember everyone is different), and the Lord would protect him from the deleterious health effects of overwork.(Bonus tip: encourage him to take actual vacations and days off and respect them.)

He is a man apart

I don’t mean that pastors are somehow different or better than other Christians, what I mean is that other Christians as well as non-Christians act like it. One of the strangest things to me when I moved from seminary to ministry – a move that entailed a cross country move to a place where no one knew me – was that everyone acted as if my first name was “pastor.” And the first 7,367,489 times someone called me “pastor” in conversation, I said, “Call me John.” But as the years have gone by I’ve learned to stop saying that, not because I’ve come to think of my self as different, but because no one has listened. And I get it. I never thought of my pastor, especially before I went to seminary, as just “Ron,” and, truth be told, I still think of him more as “Pastor Ron” than “Ron.” I think it is good for people to love and esteem their pastor – after all they are worthy of double honor (1 Tim 5:17) – but it is strange to be that person.

And if it’s odd being treated that way in the church it is even stranger being treated as a man apart outside of the church. I’ve had a handyman (who I learned was Hindu) sent by my landlord to paint an outside railing tell me he was going to do an extra good job because I was a holy man. My neighbors all are very stiff and formal with me. When I went to a gym in the smaller town I drove through on the way to the church, a hush would fall over the locker-room whenever I walked in because word had gotten around the gym that I was a pastor. The pharmacy tech at the drug store (who is also Hindu) asks me for marital advice, and I could go on.

Putting it all together it adds up to, functionally, a man apart, and that can be tough. (And this applies to your pastor’s wife too. A dear saint in the church one introduced my wife to one of her friends as “the First Lady of the church.” Often pastor’s wives experience profound loneliness. Don’t forget to pray for them too.)

How to pray for your pastor: Pray that he would be satisfied in the Lord, that his marriage would be a sweet friendship (Proverbs 5:18), that the Lord would bless him with friendships with local likeminded pastors, and that he would maintain the friendships he forged before pastoral ministry.

He is not always hungry

This one may seem trivial, but trust me it is important, especially if you love your pastor. Ask yourself this, when was the last time your pastor visited that you didn’t offer him something (probably a baked good) to eat.  I can count on one finger the times I’ve been in someone’s house when someone hasn’t offered me something to eat. And every time it is offered I accept, because I know it has been prepared with love and the last thing I would want to do is make someone feel unloved or rejected because I refused what they had prepared for me. Yet, often, I eat it knowing I shouldn’t. I love desert – one look at me would confirm it – but I really don’t need it on Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. It can really be an act of love not to offer it.

A few weeks ago was the one time I was in someone’s home where they didn’t offer me something to eat. This family was relatively new to the church and wanted to talk about how they could serve, so we set a time for me to come over. And make no mistake, this is the kind of home visit every pastor loves and looks forward to. But I try to eat clean, and I was dreading the pastry I was sure was going to be offered. When I came over and it was suggested that we sit at the dining room table, I was sure that there was going to be a coffee cake on it, but there wasn’t.  I was grateful and greatly blessed when I was simply offered something to drink. I don’t think it is a coincidence that both the husband and wife had long personal histories of formal ministry in local churches.

And as a corollary let me say this (and I realize I am about to step on some toes), your pastor may not like Chik-Fil-A.  I would estimate that at least 75% of the time someone asks me to meet them for lunch they suggest CFA. I know that it is approaching heresy to say it, but CFA is just fast food, it is not an especially spiritual place to eat. If your pastor is not someone who eats at Taco Bell or Wendy’s regularly, he probably is not someone who wants to eat at CFA all the time.

How to pray for your pastor: Pray that he would eat a healthy diet and get adequate exercise.


John Chester is the pastor of Piedmont Bible Church, a Grace Advance church plant in Haymarket, Virginia. Prior to ministry John worked as a lacrosse coach, a pizza maker, a writer, a marketing executive, and just about everything in between. He hails from The City of Champions: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is blessed to be married to his wife Cassandra. Read John’s blog articles at ParkingSpace23, and read more of John’s excellent posts for Michelle Lesley here.


This concludes part 1 of John’s article.
Be sure to come back next Tuesday for Part 2.


Pastors and pastor’s wives-
What would you add to this list of things that church members
may not know to pray for their pastors about?

Guest Posts

Guest Post ~ A Lady First: Being a Pastor’s Wife

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

kesha-griffin-lady-first

A Lady First: Being a Pastor’s Wife
by: Laurel J. Davis

Reality TV makes a mockery of Christianity and I as a pastor’s wife am fed up, especially with what a lot of pastors’ wives are doing in real “real life” to perpetuate the problem.

And why are most of them Black? As an African-American pastor’s wife myself, that just adds insult to injury. Overall, the professing Christians on The Sisterhood, (cancelled, yay!), Preachers’ Daughters, Preachers of L.A., Preachers of Detroit, and Preachers of Atlanta are embarrassing. Not all pastors are about the bling. And not all pastors’ wives are arrogant, entitled, self-centered, elitist, patronizing, untouchable, I-can-do-what-I-want-I’m-the-first-lady, got-to-be-the-best-dressed, biblically illiterate, gossiping busybodies.

But a lot of us are. A lot of pastors’ wives abuse the title of “first lady in the church” (a long-held tradition in so-called African American churches). And it falls right in line with what 2 Timothy 3:6-7 warns about gullible women being taken captive.

Special attention and favor do inevitably come with being married to the most respected person in the local church. The problem is when pastors’ wives get caught up in the hype instead of gently resisting people’s natural tendency to put them on a pedestal. Allowing yourself to be called “First Lady” in the first place is the beginning of that problem.

I’m thinking about two examples. First is “Lady” Myesha Chaney, married to Pastor Wayne Chaney of Antioch Church of Long Beach, California, featured on Preachers of L.A. In one episode he needed a second in command and she wanted the job. When he hesitated, partly because the church board was against the nepotism and partly because of his own concerns about whether she could balance it with her existing responsibilities at home and church, she started crying. Her husband then, um, submitted.

Not to belittle Mrs. Chaney’s real feelings, but I’m concerned for a church where: 1) the second in command cries when she doesn’t get her way; 2) the senior pastor is easily moved by it because it’s his wife; 3) she shows such lack of trust in his God-ordained leadership; and 4) he submits to his wife and not vice-versa when it comes to a major church decision – which makes me wonder how much she was running things behind the scenes already.

The second example is “Lady” Bridget Hilliard, wife of Pastor I.V. Hilliard of New Light Christian Center in Houston, Texas. The church’s website dedicated a whole micro-site to her 50th birthday bash for $100 per person admission price, and even included gift ideas of “monetary gifts, designer handbags (Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vitton) and gift certificates (Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Escade).” (Houston Press) Mrs. Hilliard was already driving a Bentley with the license plate, “Mrs. Attitude.” (Guess what was on her husband’s.) Enough said.

Am I being arrogant or elitist? Anything I think I know is not because I think I have any superior insight or privileged wisdom. I am no more capable than anybody else to just, simply, measure up everything against the test of the final authority of God’s Word.

Am I gossiping? No, because I’m not addressing anything that isn’t already public knowledge.

Am I being unloving? No. My hope is that those women and their admirers will be helped out of this unbiblical way of thinking in the church. And that’s very loving, indeed.

Am I jealous? Hardly. I don’t want the title “First Lady.” Being called “Mrs. Davis” is plenty satisfying enough, thank you very much. Furthermore, I’m trying to live by Luke 12:15; Matthew 6:19 and 1 Timothy 6:6-8.

Too many “first ladies” fail to see that being a pastor’s wife is a privilege, not an entitlement. It’s a calling, not a status level. It’s a position of support and service, not of being served. It’s an opportunity to bless, not control. It’s about modeling a pricelessly adorned spirit, not the latest Gucci bag. It’s a responsibility to give God all the glory, not share it with Him.

I’ve been a pastor’s wife for almost 23 years. With all of its perks come a lot of pitfalls. Don’t seek the role unless you know you’re called by God, because a pastor is supposed to be a servant, and so are you as his biggest supporter and closest disciple. Plus, you’ll have to endure a lot of sacrifice, scrutiny, trials, tests, second-guessing, attacks, betrayal, and loneliness. The fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) will have to be in operation on double-time.

Being a pastor’s wife also means seeing the blessing of the fruit of your labor in serving, guiding your precious sisters and young women (Titus 2:3-5), and first and foremost being a fitting helpmate to your husband both at home and at church.

In short, be a “lady first.” Be a woman – pastor’s wife or not – after God’s own heart, first. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, a “lady first” is content with her husband and children honoring her even if no one else ever does (cf. verses 28-29). Then, it’s her good deeds — not her title, position, possessions or fashion style — that garner admiration from outside the home (verses 30-31). And like the Titus 2 woman (verses 3-5), she knows her responsibility to younger women, lives holy, avoids idolatry, shuns gossip, teaches biblically, is level-headed, loves and yields to her husband, nurtures her children, and makes her home a refuge – all so that she will not open up the Word of God to be maligned, cheapened or discredited.

It’s a constant striving already to be the Proverbs 31/Ephesians 5/Titus 2/1 Peter 3 woman even without the added responsibility of supporting a husband’s ministry. But being a lady first, more than being a first lady, is what is most beautiful in the eyes of your husband, your children, your church and, most importantly of all, your Heavenly Father.

-Originally published at The Reluctant First Lady


Laurel Davis is a pastor’s wife in Los Angeles. A freelance magazine writer, she also writes for Got Questions? and Blogos, and has her own blog, The Reluctant First Lady. Laurel and her husband Charlton, who produces and co-hosts What Does the Bible Say?, have been married for almost 29 years, have four grown children, one grandchild and another one on the way. Follow Lauren on Facebook or email her at reluctantfirstlady@gmail.com


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