Have you ever felt like you were being watched? If you’re a preacher’s wife, chances are this isn’t some weird binging-crime-dramas paranoia, but reality. I know I have received dozens upon dozens of comments throughout my short tenure of being a preacher’s wife that have shown that people were closely inspecting my life and my choices.
There are some who resent being a preacher’s wife for this very reason. Being in the public eye and being criticized and scrutinized by even well-meaning individuals isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. And while I do not agree that I need more eyes on me because of my husband’s job, I am definitely not one who is bothered by it. Here are a couple of reasons why:
My life can reinforce my husband’s preaching (or contradict it). Will people listen to my husband speak about submission if I am not a submissive wife? Will others have respect for God if they see me living a disrespectful life? When my husband preaches about a Biblical topic like modesty, will people snicker because they’ve seen how I dress? Will young moms be encouraged to bring their kids to Bible class and worship, if I decide I’m too tired to wrangle in the pew alone? The way I conduct myself will either help people grow closer to God or help them justify their distance from Him. That’s true for everyone, but perhaps it is especially true for preachers’ wives. While we are not perfect, we are to display godliness in every aspect of our lives (including repentance when we are inevitably in error). People ought to be able to listen to our husband’s words and respect his message because they first see that I respect him, and, above all, respect the Message he is proclaiming.
I have a unique opportunity to show people authentic Christianity. If people watch me closely, guess what they’ll see? A woman who really, really tries to love God with her whole heart, but who often messes up. They will see a woman covered in grace, living joyfully despite difficulty because the blood of Jesus is amazing! Too often, the preacher family is put on a pedestal, and the saddest part of that situation is that sometimes the preacher family enjoys the spotlight a little too much. They try to maintain a level of “perfection” that comes off as fake and insincere. They make life all about them and their choices and decisions and liberties and look down on others from their elevated position. That’s not the way to glorify God in your position. In reality, it isn’t about us at all. When I became a Christian, I died to self and am now living and proclaiming Christ in my new body (Galatians 2:20). If you, as a preacher’s wife or preacher’s kid or elder’s wife, are being watched (and you are) – use that as a means to glorify God, not elevate self. Promote God’s love and mercy and not your own “faithfulness”.
Because preacher’s wives are often in some form of spotlight, some women might try to back into the shadows, rarely being seen by the congregation, while others might resent being thought of any differently than other Christians and become bitter. I think there is a healthy middle, where the preacher’s wife embraces who she is in the congregation. She is different because she’s married to the person who is in the public eye, proclaiming God’s saving message every week. This means more scrutiny. This means more demands. This means weird schedules and duties. But most of all, this means a unique role wherein you can show Jesus to other people. Some things might not be fair. Other things may be downright ridiculous. But in all things, whether pleasant or not, we can bring glory to God by having the right attitude – a servant’s attitude.
Every one of us has someone who is watching. Are we using that as a means of promoting Christ and showing others His heart and His gospel, or are we complaining because the demands are too high? Whether one person is watching or a congregation-full, you have a responsibility to influence them for good. I pray that many are watching my imperfect life and seeing a perfect God who is quick to forgive and mighty to save.