Is he my pastor or my husband? Spiritual Care in the Clergy Marriage

It’s complicated!

The more life I experience, the more useful this phrase becomes, especially in the realm of relationships.

Today’s topic: Spiritual Care in the Clergy Marriage

God invented the idea of husbands and He invented the idea of pastors. Surely He knew that these two things would reside together, under the same roof. Of course He did. I just wish He would have given us a little bit more instruction on how to do this particular thing well.

Can my husband also be my spiritual care giver?

Perhaps it’s something you’ve never contemplated, but you’ve probably felt the difficult dynamic. It’s a difficult time in your life, a difficult season, maybe it’s a marriage struggle, or trying to be a new mom, moving someplace new, a hospital visit, or a difficult situation with one of your adult children. Fill in the blank for some kind of challenge. Many people take these struggles to their pastor. They lean on their spouses and family for support, but they also dial the church’s number or check the communion card box and ask for a visit from the pastor.

What if your pastor is your husband? What if you wake up every morning next to that person and wonder “How did he miss that I’m hurting?” or “How can I burden him with my junk? He’s got so many people to care for.” or “He’s stressed out enough as it is, but Lord, I need someone to care for me.”

After a lot of contemplation, lots of stories from other beautiful pastor’s wives, and some time in prayer and the Word… Here is what I will present on the subject so far…

Husbands are certainly always the spiritual heads of the household. We as wives lift them up and honor them in this position. Husbands pray with us and for us naturally in this position. They lead our families and guide the family ship through the turbulent sea of life. Pastors should, in theory, be exceptional at this role. They know the Biblical picture and seek to fulfill it in their homes. Obviously sin comes in, people fail, life overwhelms. Even in the pastor’s family.

However, one problem, I think is that somewhere in trying to love us as wives and minister to us as pastors, care gets lost. Your husband is always your husband, loving you deeply, even when sin creeps in. But how can you know when he is your pastor?

Even when a pastor’s wife sits in the pew listening to the Word delivered to her heart on Sunday, does she receive it from her pastor or her husband? I for one receive the Word gladly most Sundays with a side of “I really hope other people are listening and this one goes well for him.” Or have you ever walked into your husband’s office and said, “Wow. I’m struggling. You know when our child was disrespectful. I lost it and I have no idea what to do.” Your husband can offer you grace and forgiveness, but do you hear it the same?

So there is this tiny piece missing when you become a pastor’s wife. And maybe it all works out in the wash, but I think we need to put into words this struggle. I kind of gave up having a pastor like other people experience it.

Let’s put a layer of protection around this strange relationship conundrum. What if we actively received pastoral care from other pastors or deaconesses, as church work couples? Maybe this looks like checking in with another circuit couple once a month, or utilizing the circuit visitor, dropping a bit of anxiety and being more transparent. Maybe it’s offering to be a another church work family’s source of encouragement on a regular basis.

This does not replace our husband as pastor in our lives, but I think it frees them up to love us and be to us who Christ intended them to be in their primary role- husband, lover, best friend.

Honestly, I don’t know what it should look like yet, but I know it’s worth a discussion. Tell me your thoughts. Share your story.

I wouldn’t trade my pastor/husband for the world. I love him, I love his role, I love seeing God’s big amazing plan in our strange and wonderful lives. I also love him and our marriage enough to ask difficult questions and open a conversation that doesn’t have easy answers.

He is not your anchor

It’s no secret to most people who know us that our life is a little messy right now. This year has been one of the most difficult I’ve ever experienced.

I find myself like Job asking God to just take it all away. I want a rewind. I want it erased from my memory. I want my heart to feel fine again. Then I find myself thanking God I don’t have boils, I have all my beautiful children, and there’s no ash heap out my back door. A little perspective helps.

However, it’s in the mess I confront my fear and God’s truth. I stood by my husband’s hospital bed and literally got on my knees and cried out to God- “Please step in. Make it better. Make it all go away. I can’t live without him. I just can’t.”
     

The answer I got was unexpected…
In the quiet of my soul, I heard –            

He is not your anchor. 

See, I love my shepherd. I LOVE him. My husband is my husband, my pastor, my best friend. He is the macaroni to my cheese, the mustard to my hot dog, the red wine to my dark chocolate, and all that good stuff. He represents everything that God is to me- loving, kind, and patient. I have made him more in my heart and mind than he was ever intended to be. He is not my anchor. He is not what is meant to hold me steady. That is not his job. I can’t hold him to that standard. 

I LOVE my shepherd. I love Jesus. He is that anchor that is holding me steady. Looking at that hospital bed, I found the truth. Dave is my gift from God. Dave is given to me for a time. He is a blessing, but he is not my god. He can’t be everything my heart needs. 

Only Jesus can fill the cracks in my soul. 

Only He can be everything I need.

He is my anchor. 

He holds me steady in the storm.