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One more picture from a magazine of a cottage with the interesting curved porch roof, from the Australian magazine "Live the Country Dream--Country at Home." Vol. 4 No. 3
This post is in response to reader requests.
Gleaning from email requests and true stories sent to me from preacher's wives, I am continuing the series describing the behind-the-scenes life of a preacher's wife:
From a preacher's wife:
"One thing people never see is the amount of time a preacher's wife spends with people who ask for her help with their marriages, their children, their homes, or their lives in general. Church members are not aware of the number of church visitors and non-members that the preacher's wife caters to, ministers to and extends hospitality to. Every church couple should have to be a minister for two weeks with the phone number of the preacher transferred to their home. After experiencing running to the aid of non-members who call for spiritual and physical assistance, church members will never say the preacher and his wife have it easy. They give up evenings at home with their families and they often aid people at their own expense to prevent being a burden on the church resources."
From a letter I received, and quoted by permission, is the following story:
"Some people who are weak in their faith will attend church for awhile and use the time of the preacher's wife to see if she meets up with all their personal requirements, and then, when they have found enough fault with her, will stop coming to church or go to another place of worship that meets their personal needs better. Often it happens that the preacher's wife is blamed. A disgruntled person may have taken offense at her for a myriad of reasons, usually due to the lack of maturity on the part of the complainer. Sometimes complaints come from long-term church members who are known for their negative, complaining and condemning ways.
"Naive people listen to these disgruntled ones, not taking into account that the tale-bearers have not attended long enough to be "proven" of their motives. The hearers focus on the concern that the church is not growing and so it must be someone's fault. The tale-bearers have found in the preacher's wife an easy mark for accusation. She carries no office of authority, is rarely a qualified counsellor, and is sometimes used as though she were an unpaid employee.
"One particular aspect of the life of the preacher's wife that these false accusers never consider is that the very offended people who leave the church, or any group, whether it be a gardenning club or a civic organization, have been in the home of the preacher's wife often and have received an enormous amount of attention from her. These leavers act as though the preacher's wife did nothing for them, but like 9 of the 10 lepers, forget to mention the benefits they received."
From a reader:
"How many times did all those accusers entertain the person who left? Did they have them over for dinner once a week? How much time did they take during the day teaching an emotionally struggling person? The leaver never reports how many times a DAY they phoned me when they were anxious about something or emotionally upset. They never tell anyone how many times a week they walked into my kitchen just to talk to me while I was getting a meal prepared or washing dishes. They never reveal how many times I bought clothes or food for them, nor how often I took the woman out to eat, helped her with her own housework, or how often the preacher and I had the couple over to our house for a meal. They do not remember the special outings and events I created to help the new member have fellowship. The church at large just does not know about any of this unless we keep a detailed diary and publish it in the church bulletin, but we do not do this because we do not like to broadcast the benefits we bestow on others.
"Church members are rarely aware of the souls that preachers wives are responsible for winning. Mostly the preacher's wife stays in the background, content not to be noticed, and does not toot her own horn."
From another preacher's wife:
"In one particular case, I mentored a young woman whose husband asked me to teach her how to live like a Christian. He was concerned about how her gossip affected his own life, and how she tended to be drawn to the wrong people who led her astray. She was also prone to wandering from house to house tale-bearing about each woman she visited. I arranged to have her come to a daily session of a study in Proverbs dealing with these subjects. I allowed her to draw out the meaning of the scriptures and never imposed my will on her. It turned out to be worse for me than the others because after the classes were completed, she reported to the church members that I did not like her way of life. Although of this was totally untrue, and it was all done in the most positive way, her rumors took flight and ran their course, til soon I was hiding in my house, not willing to trust anyone or have friendships, for fear they would twist everything that I said. Eventually she tried to close down the Womens Study Fellowship, claiming she did not like the subjects, the format, or the students discussion.
"She also plotted to have other church ladies stop talking to me. Thankfully, most people checked her background and sized up the situation: she had no experience in living the life of a Christian lady and was attacking the preacher's wife. She had not attended church long enough to be proven, (a term that means long enough to show consistency and good clean living) , she still had some vices and habits she was clinging to (smoking, drinking, gambling, swearing) and she had come "out of nowhere" with no references from a previous church. She had benefitted greatly from the hospitality of the preacher's wife, who even let her stay in the guest room during a transition period of her life. The young woman had accompanied the preacher's wife in daily life and had not adopted the spiritual stability that the lady was showing her. Her story did not have credibility but she attacked those who attempted to fellowship her and benefit her."
Another letter says:
"One thing church members need to realize is that the preacher's wife is never compensated for the time, stress, tiredness and money spent on people who leave the church and then blame her for one member who quits. How often did these other members who are quick to blame host this person in their home. How many times did they answer the phone when that person needed sympathy? How much money did other members spend on clothes and food for the unstable young woman? "
These quotes which have been sent to me are quite accurate descriptions of the stress preacher's wives endure. She is often seen as living an ideal life with a good marriage and good children, and others want to get close to her so they can duplicate that.
A quote from the book, "When Do I Cry Wolf" explains the kind of alertness the minister's wife needs to develop:
"We don't want to become jaded and mistrustful of everyone...but on the other hand, we don't want to be naive and just see things at face value. 'the prudent sees evil and hides himself, but the naive go on and are punished for it.' Proverbs 22:3"
Ladies we often succumb to the false belief that we cannot warn each other about people's whose agenda is questionable; that we must play along with everyone and make a pet out of a wolf, but we must not be naive. Preacher's wives sometimes fall prey to people they allow in their lives; people whose motives are not of good character.
In a future post I will try to list all the suggestions I have received for alleviating some of the stress on the preacher's wife and for keeping up her morale and strengthening her own faith. It is important that everyone know the special problems she endures and especially the false brethren whose aim is to shut down churches.
Until then, please leave your comments or email me about this subject.
Photo: David Austin Rose from the English China Shop