I was asked to write an article about how to Respect your Pastor from the Pastor’s Wife perspective. I have been mulling this topic over in my mind and trying to decide what to write and how to write it so it doesn’t come across as complaining or finger pointing. I hope what I write gives you some very real and practical ways for you to support your Pastor (and his family at the same time).
So here are 5 ways for you to Respect your Pastor from my perspective as a Pastors wife of 21 years.
Respect his weekly work schedule
One thing we have heard as a joke over the 20 plus years that Jason has been a Pastor is “what do you do the other 6 days of the week?”. Usually said with a laugh but I know somet that are asking really don’t know what goes into being the Pastor. Some think he just gets up and speaks on a Sunday without realizing the hours and prayer that go into prepping the sermon. In case you were wondering it takes a minimum of 20 hours of studying, writing, praying and running trough for the message you hear on a Sunday. Now add to that 20 hours all the phone calls, emails, lunch meetings, staff meetings and planning, people who pop in to just talk or pop in with major life struggles that they need someone to talk/pray through thus pushing back the stuff already on his plate to work on and you have a very full week! Now lets add to that very full week all the family activities and needs.
I am going to be completely honest and let you know that the family stuff is usually what gets sacrificed to make sure all the ‘work’ stuff gets done. Many times there is an empty seat at games/concerts or the family dinner table so Dad can stay at work to finish cause things came up and he didn’t get to finish earlier. Remember that every ‘Yes’ he gives to someone during the work day that stops him from doing what is already on his calendar means a ‘No’ to things on his family calendar (ex. Dinner, sporting events/concerts, bedtime stories/snuggles, date with his wife…)
Respect his family time
This one is huge because as a Pastor he is on call 24/7 all year. It is hard to think of a time that we had a family event as simple as dinner or a walk not interrupted with something work related. If it is not someone calling or texting with a ‘quick question’ or favor (not realizing they may be the 4th or 5th that evening already) it’s him being distracted when he is with us because he is still processing that email, phone call/text he took right before leaving the office or on the way home. If you see us out as a family please say hi! We love to see people we care about and catching up but please do not use these moments to share something you are upset about happening at church or with someone at church. Please don’t use these moments to get his advice on something your struggling with or someone you know is struggling with.
We get so few times to enjoy family time that when something like this happens it takes a fun family outing and turns it into trying to get the kids to understand why they have to sit quietly or go play quietly somewhere and wait for Dad to come back and join us. It also means that for the rest of our family time he will be preoccupied with what he just talked to you about. So please if you see us, say hi and ask how we are doing but if there is something you need to talk to him about, please ask if you can call him at work and set up a time to talk.
Respect his day off
He needs his rest! Being on call 24/7 all year long takes it’s toll and he needs at least a day a week to unplug from work and relax and enjoy his family. We understand that there are emergencies and that those cannot be scheduled around his day off but if you have something that someone else on the staff can answer or that can wait until he’s back in the office please wait until then! My husband deals with so many hard, tiring and heavy issues everyday that he needs and deserves at least one day a week (or more if we are lucky enough to string a couple together for a mini vacation) to unplug, to relax, to enjoy his wife and kids and to get things done around the house/yard that he wants to do or that simply need to be done.
Respect his decisions
There are so many decisions that need to be made every day/week to keep the church running. There are so many people with their own ideas on how and when these decisions need to be made but honestly the decision and the results of those decisions rest solely on my husbands shoulders as the Pastor of the church. He is the one that will have to answer for the success or the failure of these decisions that are made (no matter how many people agreed, gave their approval or thought it was a good idea). He is the one whose job it is to make sure the vision and mission of the church are met with every decision made. He has to make the hard calls and tell people no to things that seem like such a great idea or that many want to do because he has to look forward and decide if at the end of the day if the energy, funds and time to do something will benefit the church as a whole! Not everyone is brought into the behind the scenes discussions, meetings, planning sessions, prayers and thought that goes into every decision (no matter how big or small they may seem). Please respect him as your Pastor and respect his decisions even those decisions that are not popular.
Respect his failures
My husband is human. He will make mistakes. He will unintentionally hurt and unintentionally offend people. He will forget to return phone calls, emails and texts. He will forget to make phone calls, emails and texts sometimes. He will have to make decisions that are not popular. He will make decisions that do not turn out how he thought or planned them to go. He will say (or not say) things he doesn’t realize hurt others. He will forget meetings, lunches, and that he told you he’d come to an event/game/activity. He will double (or triple) book his time trying to not let anyone down or leave anyone out. Please don’t hold him to a higher standard of perfection than you want to be held to. Please remember that with all he has to do and all the people he has to meet with and try to help figure out problems that he is human and will make the same mistakes that you make. He is always and will always be his biggest critic and trust me when I say he has already beat himself up enough about mistakes he’s made and is already trying to find a way to fix it. I am not trying to say never disagree or share your disappointments or struggles but please do it with same respect and grace that you expect him to have towards you and others.
These 5 areas are not in any specific order nor are they the only areas you can respect your Pastor in but these are the ones that I have noticed and struggled with as a Pastors wife for almost 21 years.
Jay and I have been married for almost 21 years and we have been doing ministry together for almost 23 years.
We have had seasons of tremendous blessings in ministry and we have had seasons of deep hurt in ministry and through all seasons these are the areas that either help build up your Pastor or help tear him down.