Today is my 18th wedding anniversary. My husband was already a preacher when I married him and 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 kids.
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 that know the following things:
- The preacher’s family is a real family. They don’t have it all together. They are sinners just like the rest of the world and can’t be held up on a pedestal or unrealistic standard. They blow it sometimes. They lose it with their kids. They are learning as they go, just like you are. Sometimes their house is a wreck. Sometimes they need a break or a vacation or time away. They don’t 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 isn’t watching. They don’t come into the world knowing how to act. 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 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. So it’s likely they didn’t see dad all day Saturday and greeting time on Sunday is the first time they’ve seen him in a while. If they go hug their dad on Sunday morning, it’s because they need too and not because they are trying to interrupt “real ministry” to the church. Preacher’s come and go, but he’s the only Dad they have. The preacher’s family doesn’t get a quiet holiday at home. Dad is 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 he takes his best shots. So maybe the kids aren’t all dressed to the nines and their hair isn’t smooth as glass on Sunday morning. Maybe mom is looking a little frazzled. She got those kids dressed by herself and out the door and maybe what she’s wearing at the moment is the best she could do on this particular morning because she was so busy fighting the devil to even get there. 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’s still a man. You can’t expect more of him than he can give. And the preacher’s wife may be a godly woman but she’s 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 can’t apologize or feel guilty for that. It’s hard to make choices like this, because nobody want to say “no” to people they are called to minister to and yet don’t want to short change their family. It’s 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 shouldn’t be expected to act according to the standards of individuals in the church. They can’t parent their kids according to the way others parent. They should be allowed to minister according to their spiritual gifts and not according to the list of expectations of what a preacher of 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’s hard to struggle publicly. It’s hard to live in a “fish bowl” for everyone to watch. They need your love and they need your prayers.