Protecting Mom

H.B. London

From the start, I will tell you that it was difficult for me to write this article. It may prove to be distasteful for you. Still, I respectfully ask you to read on.

The month of May gives me the opportunity to honor you who serve the church as faithful wives, devoted mothers and committed churchwomen. You are a treasure that needs to be guarded, protected and cherished. We value you!

My wife, Beverley, was a pastor’s wife for more than 30 years. During those three decades she, like you, exhibited a myriad of emotions and feelings as she went about her role as a wife, mother and involved laywoman.

In the early years of our ministry we served a church that was unschooled in its treatment of the pastor and his family. A lot of unrealistic expectations were placed on Bev, plus congregants made references to the former pastors and their families , and commented on anything from how she looked to her attendance at church functions. We were pretty young and inexperienced at that time, so we just accepted the situation as part of the pastoral territory. But as we matured in the ministry and assumed responsibility with larger congregations, we soon learned this kind of thing would take its toll on us if we didn’t set some parameters.

We talked it over and, in time, came up with the following guidelines to protect my wife and family. I share them with you for your consideration.

  • A family-before-ministry schedule should be considered a safeguard for your home rather than a detriment to your ministry.
  • Your home should be your sanctuary, not a gathering place for the congregation (unless, of course, that’s what you want). You should have the liberty to shut the doors and pull the shades of your house for uninterrupted privacy.
  • The fact that your children are PKs does not make them fair game for the gossip and demands of curious church folks. Your family, not the constituency, should determine what role each person in the pastor’s home should embrace in church.
  • Guard your days off, and take vacations. Don’t jump for the telephone every time it rings. Monitor the calls and respond only to real emergencies. When possible, try to get away from the house for most of your “down time.”
  • The pastor should set the tone for the whole family by making it plain to the church leadership and congregation that your family is your priority, and they should be treated with the same respect and courtesy as any family in the church community.

Take my thoughts for what they are worth. They worked well for us. I hope you will think a little bit more about your home and each individual who lives there.

Happy Mother’s Day, dear ladies! You are very special to all of us.

Article copyright © 2003, Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Dr. H.B. London is the vice president of Pastoral Ministries for Focus on the Family and the author of numerous books on and for pastors. He served as a Nazarene pastor for over 30 years in several churches in Oregon and California. He and his wife, Beverley, live primarily in Colorado Springs, Colo., and have two sons and four grandchildren.