By Donna Crabtree
Am I a pastor? Biblically, I would not be given that title officially, but when my husband (Jeff Crabtree) and I married we became one. He is a pastor, so does that make me one? I have thought about this question and wondered what God expects of me as a pastor’s wife.
Looking back on my life, I saw many times where God used me when Jeff was not able to be there. My personal belief is that women should not preach or pastor churches, but I do believe God has given us a special place in our husbands’ ministries.
I do not have a degree in counseling, so I am careful in this area, however, there are times in ministry when I need to counsel the older and younger women of the congregation. This is sometimes a challenge, considering the problems people face today. Spending one-on-one time with women helps us grow spiritually as we watch the young Christians grow in the Lord and those more mature realize that God can be there in their older years.
This ministry can be of vital help to our husbands, particularly if they pastor larger congregations. It takes a lot of time to work one-on-one with new converts. Church families sometimes have marital, spiritual or physical problems, and these usually do not go away overnight. Sometimes the mature women in your congregation need to talk or need you to visit them, especially the widows.
This does not mean that your husband should never counsel or visit the women in your congregation, but there are times you can fill in when his calendar is full or when a visit by him would be inappropriate. What better way to be an encouragement or a witness?
Visiting the Sick
I remember times when my husband was out of town and I was at the hospital all hours of the night with a church member who was sick or had a family member near death. You can be there to pray and give moral support during these difficult times until your husband arrives.
If your congregation is small, you may see yourself doing this quite often, because there may not be deacons available all the time or possibly no deacons in your congregation at all. The scriptures tell us that one of our duties is to visit the sick (Matthew 25: 36-40).
Knowing Your Congregation
It is sad to say, but I know several pastors whose wives are uninvolved in their husbands’ ministries. We need to be aware of all aspects of the church. We do not have to fill every job available but we should know what ministries our church offers. Teaching may not be your calling, nor working in the nursery, but God has given all of us talents.
Your gift may be playing the piano or singing. You may decorate or maybe you like to administrate. Whatever your gift or talent, you need to be aware of all the ministries your church offers. How can you pray for the teachers, nursery workers, musicians or custodians if you are not aware of what is going on or who has filled these positions? Be available at all times for support or backup. Sometimes just a smile, a handshake or a word of encouragement goes a long way.
I have been in churches where I entered, worshiped and left never knowing who the pastor’s wife was or if she was present. I always try to speak to as many people as I can in every service. I want them to know I love them and am glad they are there whether they have attended for years or they are visiting for the first time. What better way to help your husband when he has been cornered by someone after service and cannot get away to greet a visitor?
There will always be other ways to help your husband minister to the people in your congregation. The above three examples are just the beginning. Remember, the two of you are a team. Team members work together to get the job done. In order to accomplish your goals, every member of the team must do his part. Be there for him when he needs you the most. God called your husband into the ministry, but God also knew it was not good for him to be alone. That is where you come into the picture.
So am I a pastor? Not by title, but there are times when I can help hold the shepherd’s staff until he arrives.
About the Writer: Mrs. Donna Crabtree is a member of Serenity Free Will Baptist Church in Fredericton, New Brunswick (Canada), where her husband Jeff pastors.