You’ve admired her from a distance and wish you knew her better. You feel a deep sense of gratitude for her commitment to her husband, who just happens to be your pastor, as well as her commitment to your church. Now Christmas is approaching and you’d like to give her a gift, but your funds are limited. What can you do? Having been a pastor’s wife for many years, let me share a few gifts that have truly encouraged me in bygone seasons.
Your pastor’s wife might struggle with loneliness. Being the wife of a man in full-time ministry often feels like such a solitary calling, especially in a smaller church where there are no other ministry wives to befriend. Almost everyone knows their pastor’s wife’s name, but few people really know her responsibilities and, even more importantly, her heart. A pastor naturally builds relationships more easily than his wife as he connects each week with his staff, church leaders, and church members.
But a ministry wife’s home and work responsibilities—or even her more reticent personality—may make it hard for her to form friendships where she can truly be known and enjoyed for her own delightful self! Why don’t you ask your pastor’s wife if you could drop by (at her convenience) with some muffins or cookies? Assure her that you have no agenda other than getting acquainted. Tell her that you’ve noticed her at church and have longed to get to know her a little bit better. Childcare may be an issue, so be sensitive to that, too. She will appreciate your visit even if her little ones are nearby. Your love and acceptance of them will warm her heart. Or perhaps she’d prefer coming to your house, or even meeting out somewhere for coffee or tea. Find a place that works for her.
Come prepared with some questions and conversation starters that probe without prying. Here are a few you can try:
- I’d love to hear how you came to faith in Christ.
- Tell me about your extended family. Do they know the Lord?
- If funds were not a difficulty, describe your dream vacation.
- What would you love to do tomorrow if your calendar was suddenly cleared?
- How do you like to unwind? Do you have time for a hobby?
- Do you ever have time to read? What kind of books do you enjoy?
And then be ready to give her a peek into your life, your home, and your own heart. How would you answer some of those questions? Let her get to know you on more than a name-only basis. This conversation just might lead into another gift you could give her: the gift of prayer.
Do you pray? Do you pray daily? If so, why not add your pastor’s wife’s name and needs to your prayer pages for December?
As you get to know your pastor’s wife, you may be able to sense some heart needs. Tell her you’d like to pray for her during the holidays. Email or text her your desire and ask her for specific requests, maybe each week.
And then do pray for her! Check in via text. Drop her a note through the mail. Slip her an envelope on Sunday morning. Ask the Lord to give you a verse you can pray over her and her family during this busy season. Think of specific ways you can thank her or her husband for their ministry—something you learned from Sunday’s sermon, the way she helps with setting up communion, or her greeting to you on a busy Sunday morning. How could you encourage her? And try to share a request she could pray for you, if you feel free, so that the relationship will develop on mutuality.
Here are some Scriptural prayers you could pray over her and her family:
- Ask the Lord to turn the dark, rough places in ministry—those hard spots that only she and her husband know of—into level ground in the days ahead (Isa. 42:16).
- Pray that she would have the wisdom and strength to help her husband fulfill the ministry that he has received in the Lord (Col. 4:17).
- Pray that as a couple they would be fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work (Col. 1:10).
- Ask our kind King to help her turn any fears over to Him, not fretting about them, but trusting in Christ, truly delighting in Him as she keeps His way (Psalm 37).
- Pray that she would be encouraged that their work will one day be rewarded (2 Chron. 15:7; Heb. 6:10).
Now add some of your own prayers from Scripture. What special needs might that pastor’s wife have? Family needs? Financial constraints? Physical limitations? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray for your sister in Christ (Rom. 8:26).
Holidays demand more of a pastor’s time. Perhaps it is the Christmas Eve service or special music programs. Maybe it is a staff member who has asked for time off during the holidays. Your pastor has graciously said yes, but is now having to make up the difference himself until his coworker returns.
Your pastor’s wife feels the extra burden her husband is bearing and desires not to add to it. Yet the holidays bring special needs for her, as well. She has shopping to do and gifts to mail because with her husband’s responsibilities at church, they won’t be able to visit family for Christmas. There are the Christmas cards she wants to send to all the church members, and the holiday open house her beloved has asked her to host for all the elders and deacons and their spouses. And she longs not to be so overcome with December details that she misses the glory and wonder of Christ becoming flesh and entering into our own earthly existence.
Is there a way you can help? Here are some things that have blessed me:
- Free babysitting so I could shop for the children.
- Desserts made for sharing with all the extra entertaining on my calendar.
- Help decorating our home (Ray is usually too busy to help me).
- Stuffing and stamping envelopes for the cards we send out.
- Watching the children for two hours so I could slip away to my room and spend time with our Lord without interruption.
- Help with gift wrapping or a post office run.
You might have to adapt some of these ideas as the virus continues to rear its ugly head among us, but give it a try. Ask the Lord to show you through His creative mercies how to help that woman who loves and cares for your pastor more than any other person on earth. I can assure you, she will be deeply grateful for your gift of friendship, prayer, or freedom during the coming busy holiday season. May God bless you in your giving! And Merry Christmas from a grateful pastor’s wife!
Editor’s Note: Need a gift idea for the pastor’s wife in your life? Jani has written a new book called Help! I'm Married to My Pastor: Encouragement for Ministry Wives and Those Who Love Them. Consider pre-ordering a copy to your pastor’s wife—and one for yourself as well! —Laura Elliott, Managing Editor, Revive Our Hearts