As we contemplate the Bible instruction for Christians to give honor to whom honor is due (Romans 13:7), one group of people who in some cases do not receive enough credit and appreciation are the loyal wives of gospel preachers. Those who know a particular God-loving, faithful wife of an evangelist, and I mean really know her and what she means to her family and the Lord’s Cause, do this: they “. . . rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28).
Just as there are false teachers (2 Peter 2:1), so there are some preachers’ wives who are, to put it kindly, bad apples. It happens. But we are not focusing on such people right now. Our attention is on those God-fearing sisters in the Lord who happen to be married to evangelists.
What do preachers’ wives do? They serve. Unlike their husbands, whose activities often put them in the spotlight, preachers’ wives frequently work in the background, yet they serve and serve and serve.
They love their husband, and if they have kids, they love them dearly and do all within their power to help get them ready to go to heaven (Titus 2:4,5).
They entertain people in their home/show hospitality. They may or may not be good cooks.
They teach. They may not necessarily present lessons for adult women, but in most cases, at some level they will be part of the church’s teaching team.
They “go the extra mile” (Matthew 5:41).
At least in the USA, they often live in places that are not close to their parents, grown kids, and grandkids. Why? Their families move from place to place when dad-husband changes congregations.
Because dad-husband is preaching, she has to take care of all their kids by herself during each sermon. And, she lives every waking hour with the realization that her entire family is under everyone’s microscope.
They listen (to their husband, struggling saints, and complainers). They strive to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16) as they stand up for their husband, yet find it prudent in some situations to bite their tongue and withhold some thoughts when their man is badmouthed.
They pray for strength, pray for their husband and kids, and pray for their role as a preacher’s wife. They often face unrealistic expectations from members of the church whose concepts of a gospel preacher and his family are based on fantasy or denominational traditions rather than the Scriptures.
They learn to budget their money, make sacrifices, and do without things, all the while not trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”
They are pros at adjusting and adapting. In some cases, they learn to drive on the opposite of the road, do their grocery shopping in foul-smelling markets, or do their best not to sound like a moron when trying to speak a ridiculously difficult language that is not their mother tongue. Why do they do such things? Because they love their husband-preacher and love their Lord. For him and Him, they live and breathe.
What do preachers’ wives not do? For sure, they do not live flawless lives (1 John 1:8), and their kids are not perfect either. Preachers’ wives know that better than anyone does, so there is no need for mean- spirited people to keep reminding them about it. They do not serve as the church’s slave. They do not have the duty of organizing every sisters’ activity or bailing out at the last minute every project which someone forgot or failed to carry out.
They do not need anyone’s approval to have a personal hobby, buy new clothes, or drive a new car. They do not prepare their husband’s sermons, so if he made a mistake in his lesson or someone does not like the truth he presents, do not tell her about it. What do preachers’ wives need? They have the same social, physical, spiritual, and psychological needs that others do. That truth should shock no one. They need brethren to be understanding and patient with them.
They need a sense of being accepted. They long to be treated as equals – just like other sisters are treated. They need Christian friends. They need time to relax. They need opportunities to grow spiritually. What do evangelists’ wives feel? They possess the same emotions that other sisters in the Lord do. They feel a need for the Lord. They are proud of their husband’s and children’s efforts. They feel lonely when they are isolated. They feel hurt when unkind and untrue words are spoken about her or her family. They rejoice when people make great spiritual choices. They are saddened when faithful children of God pass away; they are sadder when His child dies spiritually. They care most about God’s expectations, yet they feel challenged to live up to other people’s expectations, especially when folks compare her and her abilities to the wives of other preachers.
The saints of God are not in competition with one another, but if I were giving out awards to the wives of evangelists, and I admittedly would do so with unashamed bias, I would give “the best preacher’s wife” award to two great sisters in my life: my wife and my daughter. Those two excel at what they do.
— Roger D. Campbell