If your pastor is like mine, he probably has the sort of marriage that honors the Lord. He’s probably a devoted husband and an excellent father. And he’d better be! 1 Timothy 3:2-4 and Titus 1:6 mandate such qualities, which Ephesians 5:25-30 and Ephesians 6:4 flesh out. We must expect nothing less from the men who lead our churches.
Precisely because Scripture holds pastors (and elders) to their high standards, they need our prayers. After all, those of us in the pews aren’t perfect spouses or parents, are we? Doesn’t it stand to reason, that being the case, that our pastors also experience difficulties loving their wives as Christ loved the Church and bringing up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord?
Pastors and their families have added pressures. Firstly, the members of their congregations make huge demands on their time. Some of the demands come from our thoughtlessness and selfishness; those demands can be avoided. It’s more important for a pastor to read his children a bedtime story than for him to counsel us over the phone about a besetting sin that has dogged us for years.
At other times, our interruptions really can’t wait. Our child has been in an accident and has life-threatening injuries or our husband just walked out on us after demanding a divorce. As sympathetic as we want to be to our pastors and their families, we need their prayers, counsel and perhaps their physical presence immediately. Their wives and children have to make sacrifices in those types of situations. And it’s hard!
Pastors’ families also have the pressure of extra scrutiny as people distort 1 Timothy 3:2-4 and Titus 1:6 to mean that they must be perfect in order to uphold Daddy’s reputation. What an unfair burden — especially for the little children. Wives know what they’ve signed up for, but children are born into pastors’ families without having a say in the matter.
Church members can help by acknowledging that pastors and their families struggle with sin and imperfections just like the rest of us. They need compassion when they mess up, not shaming.
Most of all, these families need our prayers. If we recognize our own shortcomings in relating to our husbands and children in Christlike ways, surely we should sympathize with the additional weight that pastoral families carry. They depend on our prayers more than any of us realizes.