While there is no "Dr." designation before my name, I observe and listen carefully. The "patients" who most burden my heart are preachers' wives. In constant contact with them across America, I cannot miss the fact that many (if not most) of them are suffering from HADD-Husband Attention Deficit Disorder. The illness, though dire, has little to do with their public role and everything to do with their private existence.

 

A preacher's wife doesn't live for and is not motivated or fulfilled by the spotlight; she operates, rather, on heart light-the light and warmth of her husband's love. The sad fact, however, is that gloom and coldness are more often her lot. In most cases, the deficit is not an intended thing at all, but the result of carelessness.

In writing that last phrase, I am reminded of a statement I read years ago and have seen lived out since then: "The opposite of love is not hate, but carelessness." Whether she has ever read or heard that statement, any wife's emotional radar screen spots its actuality!

 

Because I've been asked to write to men, I'm going to avoid quoting Scripture, lest there be accusations of my "preaching." Instead, I'll simply speak honestly on behalf of ministry wives.

 

Statistics reveal that the two professions most plagued by infidelity and divorce are medicine and ministry. There must, therefore, be inherent dangers worth noting.  

 

Plants and human beings thrive in sunlight and wither in its lack. Emotional sunlight for a wife flows from her husband. Yet in ministry the husband's attention, concentration, and interest can easily focus almost entirely outside the home. Whereas he recognizes early on that his effectiveness can be crowned or crippled by the wife he chooses, the years following the marriage ceremony may blunt that perception. His wife's worth to him, to the family, and to the congregation fade into insignificance in his mind. After all, she's only doing what she's supposed to do, right? That dismissive attitude casts shadows into a wife's heart.

 

Kindness and gentleness, according to the Bible, are hallmarks of genuine Christianity. But while those virtues may shine out from a preacher with nearly blinding clarity in his contacts with parishioners and the public, that light is too often absent or greatly diminished within the walls of his home. Blunt, short-tempered, and unmannerly behavior and speech reveal a public prince to be in truth a frog. Pity the deeply chilled wife!

 

Spotlights are difficult to survive. Their intense focus can do strange things. In particular, spotlights threaten to distort one's sense of importance. While phoniness and pride are easily seen in actors, sports figures, etc., a ministerial disguise-sanctified language and a self-effacing manner-may convince onlookers of his humility. His inner reality, however, will inevitably declare itself within the demanding, intimate relationship of marriage.