Geaux Therefore

The Official Blog of NOBTS and Leavell College

on Monday, April 12, 2021


A few years ago, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I wondered out loud about when Christmas decorations would go up in our church building. My dear friend laughed as she reminded me that I was the Pastor’s wife and that decorating was probably in my job description!

If you’re married to a Pastor, no doubt you can relate to my panic in that moment. There is no job description! However, when people think of a Pastor’s wife, they typically have a long list come to mind filled with what they think she should (and shouldn’t) do. Play the piano, sing, teach the children, and the list goes on.  But does this really sum up our role in the church? Are we simply to aim for crossing off items on the ever-changing list? What does it really look like to be the Pastor’s wife?

Because God has recently called us to a new faith family, I’ve been freshly pondering this identity question and asking God for the wisdom that He promises in James 1:5 to give. I’ve been reminded that those of us married to a Pastor are called to a profound ministry and though it is right there in our title, we often miss it.

I am the Pastor’s WIFE. A role which no one else in the church can fill.  I alone have the privilege and responsibility, which makes it my primary ministry and a crucial way that I serve the whole Body.

As I’ve focused in more, not on Sunday morning activities, but on who I am every single day as a wife to my Pastor husband, I’ve seen a few small things that have produced much fruit in our marriage and ministry.

1. Active Listening

The word “active” is central here. This does not mean listening while multi-tasking as I’m often tempted to do, but putting down the phone or book, making eye contact, and creating space for uninterrupted conversation. Because we have four kids, I understand this sounds impossible, but we leverage screen time and outside play to make it happen. When Chad (my husband) needs to share about the praiseworthy, the frustrating, or the weighty, I show that I really care by listening attentively without trying to fix everything, which certainly challenges my natural tendencies! As a sounding board, I can hear exciting ideas even if they never come to fruition. Because I’m his wife, I can be the one who doesn’t expect his verbal processing to be polished but welcomes the honesty and emotion that he often has to keep close to his chest. I allow him to be truly heard, which is a ministry to his soul.

2. Choosing Gratitude

A Pastor is often in a battle between living a life of thanksgiving or letting the criticism and weight of the role keep him close to despair. I’ve learned the hard way that I play a significant part in which direction Chad will walk based on how I speak with him about the church. When I choose to ask him about the blessings of his day instead of asking for details about something that is obviously bothering him, I am helping him choose gratitude instead of fanning the flames of frustration. Ephesians 4:32 has been an anchor for me in how I speak with Chad and about the church. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

3. Pursuing Connection

We’ve all likely read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages and even encourage those we counsel about marriage to make this a priority, but it is shocking how quickly we can forget to take our own advice. I have tried to be intentional about developing an ever-deepening connection with Chad by loving him in the ways he best receives love. The active listening during quality time, words of encouragement, physical touch . . . these small gestures bind us together even when the busyness of life would tear us apart. I’ve also found it true that you reap what you sow. The more connected we feel to each other, the more likely we are to continue being intentional in pursuing connection.

4. Praying and Speaking the Word

I left Chad a voicemail this morning letting him know that I was praying Genesis 15:1 for him . . . that he would know God as his shield and great reward. That message served to strengthen him as he began a new day of ministry and even blessed him so much that he surprised me with a lunch date!

Ephesians 5:26 calls a husband to “wash” his wife in the “water of the Word,” so there may be no greater way to love your husband than to cover him with the same. When we pray the Word, we can know that we are seeking God’s best for them. When we encourage with God’s Word instead of our own, we can know that they are hearing truth that will build up, make wise, bless, and bear fruit.

Three of my best friends are also married to Pastors. In our group text, in between tales of kid drama and updates on all of our spinning plates, these are the kind of things we focus on as we spur one another along toward love and good deeds in our marriages. We encourage each other, when life feels like chaos, to prioritize connection with our husbands, knowing that the entire faith family benefits when our marriage is strong. We each serve the Body in practical ways according to our spiritual gifts and the needs of the church, but we strive to never neglect the crucial ministry we’ve been given as a Pastor’s wife.

Cole Gilbert is the wife of Chad Gilbert (M.Div. ’07), pastor of First Baptist Church, New Orleans.