Your Husband Is Not Your Only Pastor

Your Husband Is Not Your Only Pastor

Let me begin by stating that this article is directed toward one particular group, namely, the wives of pastors. That said, I do believe that this article can be useful for all people because of the principles it highlights. Therefore, if you find yourself reading this and you are neither a wife, nor the wife of a pastor, be encouraged that this can still be useful to you.

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” This is a well known passage, that likely every good, Bible believing Christian would affirm. However, it has a specific application that may be overlooked.

Some Necessary Context

Before we examine that application, a bit more background might be helpful for you. You see, I am a pastor in a church that was planted in Las Vegas with a couple of other families. We planted this church with three men who were immediately functioning as the shepherds of this particular congregation. I’m sure the other two men can testify right along with me that this verse has weighed all the heavier on our souls since planting. In the lead up to the church plant, my thoughts on this verse shifted from thinking about the congregation as a whole to how it should apply to my own wife, and the wives of my fellow elders.

Here is my purpose in a nutshell: I want you to see how this passage requires the same commitment from the pastor’s wives as it does for every other individual within the church. In fact, it may even require more focused obedience from pastors’ wives because of the ease with which they can drift into an attitude of seeing their own husband as their only authority. If you are a pastor’s wife, this passage does not allow you to show partiality in regards to those who hold that office. In a church where your husband is not the only pastor (which I hope is the case), my desire is that you, as a godly woman, would set a good example to others by carrying out the duty of submitting to all of the pastors of the church, not just to your own husband. To clarify, I do not intend to blur the lines of husband and wife relationships, or the type of submission that is to happen in that relationship with the type of submission that is to happen within the church. Wives, there is a type of submission that you owe only to your husband; but, nevertheless, there is a type of submission that you owe to every single pastor who has been placed over you, which ought to be the same, regardless of if the man is your husband or not.

A Prime Example

Now, I recognize that this can be difficult at times, especially for pastor’s wives who find themselves in a position where they need to submit to men who were not in leadership over them previously. This requires a change in the mind for these women. I can imagine at least a couple of scenarios where this would need to happen:

For example, you may be in a situation similar to our own. In the church plant I told you about earlier, there were multiple families involved, and therefore, multiple men in leadership. Now, here is the hard part. Our families have all known each other for quite some time and have had certain relationships built over that time which have always been under a particular set of circumstances. Those circumstances, up to the point of the church plant, had never included the husbands of those families being the pastors of the wives of those families. In our own situation, the wives of the men who are in leadership need to be mindful that they submit themselves to the other men in leadership and not make distinctions in regards to who they will listen to or to what degree they will obey them. It could be very easy to regard their own husband as the ultimate authority. We believe in a plurality of elders within the church, which we think stands as a biblical safeguard for the congregation as a whole, which, for our application here, includes the pastors’ wives; it is a safeguard for them too. If you are in a situation similar to this where your husband is in leadership with other men, I admonish you to submit to those other men with the same sense of reverence and esteem that you would give to your own husband in his role in the church as a shepherd over your soul; they have been put in that position by the God.

In many churches, there could also arise a situation in which other men are ordained into leadership and the existing pastor’s wives will need to submit to these men as they have submitted to the existing elders up to this point. If you find yourself in this type of situation, it will be easy to think of these “newer” pastors as less experienced, and therefore, worthy of less respect. May God help you not to do such a thing. As I stated earlier, the men who are put in that position are put there by God. And furthermore, if your husband is in leadership, the other men who are put there, at least in part, are put there by your own husband’s actions. To not submit to him would be a failure to submit to your own husband as he seeks to raise up God fearing men to help care for your own soul.

How Does It Work Out?

Because of the fallen nature of man, the tendency for us is to buck at the sound of authority, and even more so, the sound of new authority. But what does the verse we quoted at the start call you to do? It calls you to submit to these men and to “do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” You see, ultimately, to do it with grumbling and complaining is to harm yourself. Why? Because the Lord has been gracious to you, to give you more than one man to care for your soul. And, if you will but let them do it, you would find that your soul is benefitted far more than if you only allowed your husband to stand in that position.

So then, how exactly is this worked out? As we come to a close here, I have a couple of points of application that may help flesh out areas where this needs to happen in your own life. One of the most difficult areas in which you will need to take heed of this exhortation is in regards to correction or reproof. I would encourage you to learn to hear correction and reproof from the other pastors and not just your husband. If another pastor corrects you in some way and the first thought in your mind is frustration and bitterness and, “I wonder what my husband thinks,” you are not properly esteeming the other men.

Now, I recognize that some who are reading this could easily misunderstand what I am getting at, so let me briefly interject with an example of how this type of thing could arise and how I think it should be handled. Imagine a conversation between the wife of a pastor and another woman in the church. Imagine that this conversation has to do with another sister within the church and maybe it is in regards to how they should correct this other sister’s behavior. Now imagine, the pastor who is overhearing this conversation recognizes that it is quickly turning into gossip and becoming unfruitful. In a situation where the sister’s husband is present, it would certainly be ideal to bring it to his attention and have him deal with it as the head of household. However, if he is not present, it would be the duty of the pastor who is present to interject and rectify the situation. It would also be the duty of both women, the other pastor’s wife included, to hear this pastor out and recognize that what he says holds authority. If the other pastor’s wife refuses to listen, or even holds bitterness and anger in her heart because some other pastor dared to exhort her in some way, this would be problematic behavior. As a pastor’s wife, it is important that you are willing to hear correction from the other pastors and not think that correction can only come from your husband.

Also, remember that your husband is fallible. Your husband may tell you something erroneous in regards to practical Christian living and may need to be corrected by the other brothers who shepherd along with him. I want to encourage you to hear their thoughts and consider what is most biblical and honoring to the Lord. Don’t just simply do something because you want to, and think, “Well, my husband said I could, so it’s fine.” It is important for you to weigh the council of the other pastors who have been placed over your soul.

Again, I think it is important to give an example so that it is clear what I am saying. Imagine a church where the pastors have worked through what they want to be the standard of dress within the church. The standard is pretty clear across the board but there is one individual who does not think the standards need to be as strict as they are. This man then goes home and details to his wife what these standards are, and maybe in the process, explains to her that he feels the standards are somewhat excessive and he does not necessarily have any problem with some of the things his wife might choose to wear. What can often happen in this situation is that the wife feels at liberty to do something that is at odds with the general mindset of the church and at odds with the council of the other pastors. Why? Well, because her husband said he is ok with it, and to her, no other opinion is as important. Once again, in a situation like this, there would need to be a conversation that takes place between the pastors to deal with this issue; but, never-the-less, my argument is that the wife of this man needs to recognize that these other pastor’s opinions are not worthless, without the stamp of her husband’s approval. It is important that she considers what these men say and that she seeks to honor and uphold their authority in the church.

Another point of application would be that you labor to be attentive to the preaching of the word regardless of whether your husband is preaching or not. Oftentimes pastors’ wives can feel more of a duty to focus when their husband is preaching but are less careful to give their attention when another man preaches. Do not do that. Once again, that type of thing is a failure to esteem the other men or what they have to say to you from God’s word.

Final Words

It is important that you give your pastors grace just as you would give your own husband. If your own husband wronged you in some way, I would hope that you would have a heart filled with forgiveness and love. The men that pastor the flock along with your husband are no more perfect than he is. There will be times where their faults come out. There will be times where they say something to you that you do not like, or they say it in a way that you do not like. I urge you, sisters, forgive them from the heart as though it were your own husband. Do not harbor bitterness in your heart towards your pastors.

Lastly, I would urge you to pray for them. Undoubtedly, you are praying for your own husband. Hopefully you pray for him often. Do not forget to pray for the other men along with him. They need your prayers as well. The more you pray for them, the more your heart will be inclined to do all of the things stated previously. Remember them in your prayers. Pray that you would esteem them the way you do your husband. They are your pastors.

To pastors. I want to give a warning.. Men, you need to be careful that you do not foster this attitude in the church. One in which a particular pastor is esteemed higher and more important than his fellow pastors. How might you do that? Well, one of the most sure ways to do this is to place one man as “lead” over the rest. This is a surefire way to make sure certain elders are seen as more authoritative and certain elders are seen as less authoritative, and therefore, not worthy of the same respect. There is no office of “Lead Pastor” in the word of God. Do not invent one. This will damage the usefulness of the other men in leadership toward the entire congregation, including the pastors’ wives. Men, shepherd well, that honor and esteem would be due any man called to be a pastor, not only for your sake but the church and your wives.

Nick Hendrix

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