The Best Thing You Can Say to a Preacher's Wife
Joe McKeeverJoe McKeever says he has written dozens of books, but has published none. That refers to the 1,000+ articles on various subjects (prayer, leadership, church, pastors) that can be found on his website -- joemckeever.com -- and which are reprinted by online publications everywhere. His articles appear in a number of textbooks and other collections. Retired from "official" ministry since the summer of 2009, Joe stays busy drawing a daily cartoon for Baptist Press (www.bpnews.net), as an adjunct professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, writing for Baptist MenOnline for the North American Mission Board, and preaching/drawing/etc for conventions and churches across America. Over a 42 year period, McKeever pastored 6 churches (the last three were the First Baptist Churches of Columbus, MS; Charlotte, NC; and Kenner, LA). Followed by 5 years as Director of Missions for the 135 SBC churches of metro New Orleans, during which hurricane katrina devastated the city and destroyed many churches. Joe is married to Margaret, the father of three adults, and the proud grandfather of eight terrific young people. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College (History, 1962), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Masters in Church History, 1967, and Doctorate of Ministry in Evangelism, 1973). Joe's father was a coal miner who married a farmer's daughter. Carl and Lois McKeever, both of whom lived past 95 years of age, produced 6 children, with Joe and Ronnie being ministers. Joe grew up near Nauvoo, Alabama, and attended high school at Double Springs. Joe's life verse is Job 4:4, "Your words have stood men on their feet."
- 2015 Dec 23
The preacher’s wife who suggested an article on 59 things NOT to say to a preacher’s wife ended by suggesting that we follow it with a positive piece listing good things to say to the wife of the minister.
She got us started with this list:
- I am praying for you. We love you.
- Thank you sharing your husband with us.
- Thank you for sharing your lives with us. We love you.
- I do not want anything from you but friendship.
- Let me help. We love you.
- You have such great kids.
- Let me know if you need anything. We love you.
- I overheard this compliment. “You are a success at (insert career choice here).We love you.”
- I really missed seeing you this morning.
- How do you feel? We love you.
- We appreciate what you bring to the church.
- We would love to put you on staff so you can servce the Lord full time!
Those are all nice.
Now, here are suggestions from another pastor and wife who feel deeply about this subject.
- “I really appreciate you.”
- “Here’s a gift card for a manicure.” (Note from Joe: Also give the wife a gift card for a manicure.)
- “Here’s a gift card for you and your husband to have a date.”
- “I would like to keep your children as often as once a week so you and your husband can spend time together.”
- “I pray for you every day.”
- “I love you.” Also meaningful is “I love your husband.”
- “Thank you for all you do.”
- “Your marriage is such an inspiration to me.”
- “Can I take you to lunch? We will not talk about church, and I have no complaints. I just want to spend time with you.” (It’s really important to add the disclaimer as my wife has bought the lunch/coffee/dinner of too many ladies while they told her everything they didn’t like about her. Let her know up front there is no agenda so she won’t worry about it.)”
As a retired pastor, I find it hard to believe that people would look a minister’s wife in the eye and tell her what they do not like about her. I wish I could be there, so I could interject a question or two. “Why is this important? Why do you think she should know how you feel?” And maybe, “Why are you so important that your judgment of the minister’s wife matters?”
Clearly, many in our churches think the minister and family are there to please them.
Do not miss that. People actually think the minister and family were sent by the living God to please them.
How backward is that?
But doesn’t Paul say, “We…preach ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake”? (2 Corinthians 4:5). Isn’t that a clear statement that the minister is the servant of the congregation?
No, it is not and he is not.
Pastors are “Your servant for Jesus’ sake.”
He takes orders from Jesus as to how to serve you.
Humanly speaking, trying to please a congregation of several hundred souls would be the equivalent of a roadmap to the funny farm.
Pastors (and we mean all ministers of every variety and calling) and their spouses would do themselves a great favor by being very clear on the following from the outset:
1. Make sure God has called you into this work. Do not go further until you are dead certain of this.
2. Expect difficulties and hardships. Expect people to be selfish and you will never be disappointed. Keep saying to yourself, “There is a reason God has to call people to do this!”
3. Appreciate those who bless you and make your work easier. Write them notes. Be generous in showing gratitude.
4. Stay close to each other and to the Savior. The moment you drift from closeness to one another and to Him is the moment you will start feeling resentment toward the flock for a) what they are doing to you or b) not doing for you.
5. Do not go into ministry expecting to be appreciated or honored. Do not expect anniversaries and birthdays to be special to the congregation. If they are, and if the members honor you, give thanks to the Lord and let them know how special they are. But if you expect to be honored, you will almost always be disappointed. (Luke 17:7-10 has your name all over it, friend.)
6. Your reward is coming just a little later down the road. (See Luke 14:14 and 2 Timothy 4:8.)
7. In the meantime, look to the Lord, rejoice in Him, and love the people. Give the congregation an example of sacrificial love and dedication.
The best thing anyone ever said to one pastor’s wife…
“Thank you for taking care of him so he can take care of us.”
Publication date: December 23, 2015