An Appreciation of Preachers’ Wives

Genesis 2:18
       And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

CHARLES RAY (circa 1903): If it be true in at general sense, that “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing and obtaineth favour of the Lord,” how much more must it be the case with the minister who is encouraged and helped by his partner in life…She must render every assistance in her power and yet not expect to reap the praise from men, which is rightly her due; she must initiate and carry through new plans of Christian effort and be satisfied that they shall be regarded as nothing more than a legitimate part of her husband’s ministry; and she must take upon her shoulders a load of responsibility, which the ordinary wife knows nothing of and which amid such a multitude of duties might well overwhelm a strong and vigorous man.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The position of minister’s wife is a very difficult one for anyone to fill. Churches do not give a married minister two salaries, one for the husband and the other for the wife; but, in many cases, they look for the services of the wife, whether they pay for them or not. The Pastor’s wife is expected to know everything about the church, and in another sense she is to know nothing of it; and she is equally blamed by some people whether she knows everything or nothing. Her duties consist in being always at home to attend to her husband and her family, and being always out, visiting other people, and doing all sorts of things for the whole church! Well, of course, that is impossible; she cannot be at everybody’s beck and call, and she cannot expect to please everybody. Her husband cannot do that, and I think he is very foolish if he tries to do it; and I am certain that, as the husband cannot please everybody, neither can the wife―the position of the minister’s wife is always a very trying one.

CHARLES RAY: The wife of a great man and particularly of a great minister, is not only one of rare difficulty but calls for an exercise of unselfishness and self-effacement which is quite contrary to the natural instincts of human nature. The lady who would be a true helpmeet to the popular preacher and God-ordained pastor must to a very large extent sink her own individuality and claims and become absorbed in those of her husband. She must be prepared to part often with the one she loves best on earth, in order that he may go to fulfill his solemn engagements untrammelled by domestic repinings.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): I hope God will never suffer me to say, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”

C. H. SPURGEON: It is his wife’s duty to see that he is not uncomfortable at home; for, if everything there is happy, and free from care, he can give all his thoughts to his preparation for the pulpit; and the godly woman, who thus helps her husband to preach better, is herself a preacher though she never speaks in public, and she becomes to the highest degree useful to that portion of the Church of Christ which is committed to her husband’s charge…It is a great assistance to the cause of God to keep the minister himself in good order for his work.

Original Source Unknown: Once, when Luther was so depressed that no words of counsel seemed capable of penetrating his darkness, [his wife] Katie put on a black dress. Luther asked: “Are you going to a funeral?” “No,” she replied, “but since you act as though God is dead, I wanted to join you in the mourning.” Luther quickly recovered!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Like many of my fellow preachers I acknowledge that my best and severest critic is my wife.

THOMAS SCOTT (1747-1821): After I had written my sermons for the Sunday sermons, I, for a long time, constantly read them to my wife before they were preached, and, at her instance I altered many things, especially in exchanging words unintelligible to labourers and lace-makers, for simpler language.

C. H. SPURGEON: I am glad to call my dear wife to my assistance. She reads to me until I get a clear idea of the whole subject; and, gradually, I am guided to the best form of outline, which I copy out, on a half-sheet of notepaper, for use in the pulpit.

MRS. SUSANNAH SPURGEON (1832-1903): Sometimes, but not often, he would leave the study for a few moments, to seek me, and say, with a troubled tone in his voice, “Wifey, what shall I do? God has not given me my text yet.” I would comfort him as well as I could; and, after a little talk, he would return to his work, and wait and watch for the Word to be given. It was, to me, a cause for peculiar thankfulness when I was able to suggest to him a passage from which he could preach; and, afterwards, in referring to the sermon, he seemed pleased to say, “You gave me that text.”

CHARLES RAY: The members of the Christian churches little know what they owe to the wives of their pastors and when, by way of faint praise, they oftentimes declare that the lady of the manse has “done what she could,” the expression usually implies a qualification that the work might have been greater or better.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Upon the death of Rowland Hill’s wife, he preached her funeral sermon. The text was, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28. In noticing her character, Mr. Hill mentioned her fortitude, and suddenly exclaimed―“Do you remember my preaching in those fields, by the old stump of the tree? The multitude was great, and many were disposed to be riotous”—

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): At first I addressed them firmly; but when a desperate gang of banditti drew near, with the most ferocious looks and horrid imprecations and menaces, my courage began to fail. My wife was then standing behind, as I stood on the table. I think I hear her now. She pulled my gown, and, looking up, said, “Rowley, play the man for your God.” My confidence returned. I again spoke to the multitude with boldness and affection; they became still, and many were deeply affected.

WILLIAM JAY: Let not therefore females suppose that they are cut off from usefulness, and usefulness even in the cause of Christ. The most eminent servants of God have acknowledged their obligations to them, and ascribe no little of their success to their care and kindness. The public ministry is not indeed open to them…and good sense will acquiesce in the distinctions and determinations of heaven, especially when it is seen that they are not founded on any principle of degradation, but in the obvious proprieties of life. If they have not authority, they have influence, which is far better and more deeply effective.


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