Ever wondered how you know when someone needs encouragement? Here's a simple test. It works every time. Check and see if they have a pulse.

Pastor, one of the members in your congregation whose heart beats regularly for you is your wife. She's your No. 1 fan and your No. 2 responsibility after your relationship with Jesus. She needs encouragement.

Here are five practical ways you can do that:

1. Pray with your wife. One of the most important and encouraging activities you can do with your wife is join with her in prayer. When she hears your struggles and sees your vulnerabilities, she knows you trust her with your heart. She also knows the man behind the pulpit not only needs God's power and grace but he also needs his partner in ministry.

2. Publicly praise her ministry. Many times a pastor believes that to praise his wife publicly shows favoritism and a sense of entitlement, but it truly demonstrates a spirit of gratefulness for her calling and recognition for the sacrifices she makes every day for your ministry. Keep in mind, her greatest ministry may be in the home and not in the church, which is even more reason for fulfilling Proverbs 31:28  "Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her."

3. Put her second in your life. After your relationship with Jesus Christ, your bride is your highest priority. One of the ways you encourage her and show her she has value is to dialogue daily, date weekly and depart quarterly. In your conversations, make sure you're talking with her about her spiritual walk, the kids, her dreams. If you do talk about the church and ministry, make sure she brings up the subject first. She cares as much about the church as you do but she just wants to know she is more important to you than the church. Pastor, Jesus has a Bride, and you do, too. So go home to yours. He'll take care of His.

4. Permit her to be a member, too. Some of your best ideas for sermons and ministry are from members. Why not get ideas from your favorite member -- your wife? She loves you the most and knows you the best. Being a member also means that sometimes the family takes priority over the church. While you may have to be at church, allowing your wife the freedom to watch your son or daughter participate in a sporting or school event on a Wednesday evening not only encourages her, but your family as well.

5. Persuade her to get involved in the Flourish.me community. Flourish is a place to connect with other ministry wives. Hearing stories and receiving inspiration from other ministry wives will encourage her. Flourish provides great reading resources, devotionals and inspirational messages, just for women, written by women who have been and are pastors' wives. They understand what it means to be married to a pastor and married to a ministry at the same time.

(c) Baptist Press 2013. Used with permission.

Ken Whitten is the senior pastor of the Tampa-area Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz. This article originally appeared in the Fall 2013 edition of On Mission, published by the North American Mission Board. October is Pastor Appreciation Month in the Southern Baptist Convention. For ways to encourage pastors, visit namb.net/pastor-support. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter, Facebook, and in your email.

Publication date: October 30, 2013