December 9, 2009

The Pastor's Example

On my previous post, What to Write?, I received the following question from a friend of mine:

Do you think the duties of the wife of a professional minister and the wife of a regular guy differ? It seems that there is a lot of pressure on pastors wife's to be more and do more. I'd be interested in your opinion. Sherri

Have you noticed that Pastors and their families are different? They conduct themselves in a markedly gracious, reserved, temperate manner that completely separates them from Joe Schmoe who, with his family, attend church every Sunday and find time to volunteer their services in this or that ministry of their choosing. Besides the similarities regarding male and female responsibilities within marriage and family life, there is a vast difference between these two such couples. The pressures and responsibilities of making church ministry your sole vocation are much different than working for some secular company outside the church to pay the bills.

In some ways, this is Biblical. Paul said that it is a noble thing to desire to be an elder/pastor/overseer for a local body of believers (1 Tim 3), but it carries a great weight with it (James 3:1). He didn't say this about factory work or computer programming. Those are very important jobs for the post-modern time we live in, but it's much different than making the care of souls a vocation. Souls have an eternal weight to them. These shepherds of the flock will be judged more severely than a layman in the church with no significant position. God will hold them responsible for the things they teach, formally and informally, and for the care given to the flock (counseling, prayer, etc.)

However, in another way, it appears to be unBiblical that there is such a marked difference between the layman's family and that of the pastor's. The descriptions given for these men and women in the pastoral epistles are character qualities that all believers should be striving to possess and practice. The same way that a pastor gives true Biblically founded counseling (void of secular humanist psychology) should be the same worldview to which all believers should give allegiance. But not every believer abandons the evolution, man-centered atheistic theology they were indoctrinated into by public schools or simply from a life a paganism. This is the truly devastating part. Because of this, the Church at large has lost much of its credibility with the lost world; it has become impotent to addressing many of the real issues that non-believers use to reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I think that it is because of this that Pastor's families tend to stand out as examples of holiness, grace, discipline, love, boldness and hospitality. They realize that much more than the Word they preach, their lives must also be aligned to what they are teaching. You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?! That's why the pastor's family lives inside a fishbowl - everything they say and do is examined heavily, scrutinized and deeply considered by other people, within and from without their congregations. Everywhere they go people are watching.

I do not envy the pastor's family. When lay people make a mistake, sometimes it can get by without anyone really noticing. We can still live a transparent lifestyle in that we do not hide our sin in pride, but humbly confess our sin and ask for prayer and accountability when needed. But in the same breath I will say that I do desire after their habitual practice of slow speaking, slow tempers, quickness to listen, contentment, and grace with others who are weak in faith, especially when they don't agree on particular issues, whether they are major theological ones or minor preferences. Yes, we see differences between pastor's families and other believing families. I don't agree that differences should exist, but it cannot be denied either.

Thanks for your interest Sherri. :-)

1 comment:

Wendy Ellis said...

You would both enjoy this book very much. It speaks to directly to this question, not just to pastor's wives, but for women in general. Check it out: Enjoy!