I recently celebrated my 23rd anniversary with my husband, who is a preacher. My husband was already a preacher when I met and then married him; so my life has been on display before a congregation of people since before I said “I do”. All these years later we have ministered in many settings to multiple congregations and have been blessed with 5 great children.
We have seen some stuff and been through some stuff. We have been supported and loved and prayed for by the people of our congregations. They have celebrated our victories and walked with us through some dark and challenging days. Those folks who have made a difference for us are the ones who know a few “secrets” about the preacher, his wife, his children and his home. Here are a few of those things:
- The preacher’s family is a real family. They do not have it all together. They are sinners just like the rest of the world and cannot be put up on a pedestal or held to unrealistic standards. They blow it sometimes. They lose it with their kids. They are learning as they go, just like everyone else. Sometimes their house is a wreck. Sometimes they need a break or a vacation or time away. They do not know the answers to every question. They need your prayers for wisdom.
- The preacher’s kids are kids. They act like kids. They might run at church if Mom is not watching. They do not come into the world knowing how to act like “good preacher’s kids”. And when they are at church their dad is working so mom is a “single-mom” on Sunday mornings. If you talk to her at church, expect her to be looking over your shoulder while listening so that she can keep her eyes on her kids. Because EVERY unsupervised kid wants to jump on the stage or swing from a chandelier whether they are related to the preacher or not. They need your prayers to balance it all.
- Preacher’s kids give up their time with dad a lot. They share him with everyone. Mom is often the one teaching them to ride bikes and taking them to recitals and soccer games because Dad is ministering to the church family. He often leaves his own family to go be with other families. So it’s likely they did not see dad much on Saturday and greeting time on Sunday is the first time they have seen him on Sunday (because he leaves the house at 6:30 am on Sundays). If they go hug their dad on Sunday morning, it is because they need too, and not because they are trying to interrupt “real ministry” to the church. Preacher’s come and go, but he is the only Dad they have. The preacher’s family does not often get a quiet holiday at home. Dad is usually planning an event for the church family to come to. So if the preacher’s kids seem tired, clingy or out of sorts, they need to be given a little slack. They need your prayers for strength.
- The preacher’s family is under attack. Satan loves to trample on the preacher’s family. He comes after their marriage, their kids individually, and their family unit. He is constantly trying to distract them and cause disunity. And often Saturday night or Sunday morning is when Satan takes his best shots. So maybe the kids are not all dressed to the nines and their hair is not smooth as glass on Sunday morning. Maybe mom is looking a little frazzled. She probably got those kids dressed by herself and out the door and maybe what she is wearing at the moment is the best she could do on this particular morning because she was busy fighting the devil in order to even get to church. Judgment never helps the preacher’s family. It only adds to Satan’s schemes. They need your prayers for protection.
- The preacher may be a godly man, but he is still only a man. You cannot expect more of him than he is capable of giving. And the preacher’s wife may be a godly woman but she is just a woman with limitations too. Sometimes she has to say “no” to the lists of tasks and responsibilities that others want from her. Her number one priority is her family. She cannot apologize or feel guilty for that. It’s hard to make choices like this, because nobody wants to say “no” to people they are called to minister to and yet do not want to short change their family either. It is a constant tightrope. They need your prayers for stamina.
- The preacher’s family answers to God for their actions, their parenting, and their ministry. They should not be expected to try to please every individual in the church. They cannot parent their kids according to the way others want them to parent. They should be allowed to minister according to their spiritual gifts and not according to the list of expectations of what a preacher or preacher’s wife or preacher’s kids should do, look like or be like. They need your prayers for courage.
- When they go through a tough time, they need your support. It is hard to struggle publicly. It is hard to live in a “fish bowl” for everyone to watch, even in the good times. It is especially hard in the tough times. They need your love and they need your prayers.
Being a ministry family is a wonderful blessing, but it carries some unique challenges as well. The preacher’s family is in partnership with the congregation. We all minister to each other, support each other, pray for each other. When this happens, not only will the preacher’s family thrive, but the entire church will also.