Sometimes those who are most vital to a pastor’s ministry – his family – can be forgotten. Yet, they are the ones most often ministering to the minister.
As a pastor’s wife, I pray for my husband like no other. I encourage him when he needs to be built up and challenge him when he needs to be pushed. Our children allow their dad to laugh and enjoy life. They help him see God through the eyes of a child and sharpen his character.
A church member once asked my pastor husband, “How can we as a church best show you our support and love?” Without hesitation, my husband responded, “If you will love on my wife and children, then you will have shown me support and love, too.” I have never forgotten that, and am thankful to serve in a church that has taken his words to heart and loved us well.
Kelly McCorkle Parkison
Here are a dozen practical ways you can honor your pastor’s family and in return honor your pastor.
1. Pray for us. Yes, it’s an obvious way, but one I often see undervalued. It’s easy to quickly respond, “I’ll pray for you,” and then go on without another thought. Don’t forget the power of prayer and how important it is to pray for church leaders and their families.
Thankfully, there is a woman in our church who calls or texts at least once a week, wanting to know how she can specifically pray for my family and me. Her prayers have shown such support and genuine care.
2. Pursue a meaningful friendship with us. Years ago, I had a mentor tell me that being a pastor’s family can be very lonely position. At the time, I thought, “No way!” But as time went on, his words rang true.
Sometimes a minister’s family feels they can only get so close to church members and any relationship has to be at an arm’s length. Other times, members can hold the pastor and family up as something higher and separate from the church, instead of holding out a hand and inviting the family into their lives. Get to know us and do what it takes to invest in the relationship outside of the church walls.
3. Encourage our personal giftings or passions. We all have been graced with certain gifts, but as a pastor’s spouse or kid, sometimes the ministries taking place in church can overshadow or devalue those abilities. Everyone needs encouragement in their God-given passions, pastor’s family or not.
I have a passion for orphans and victims of human trafficking in India, and the church members who have rallied behind me are such a blessing. They have supported the organization I started called LOFT 218. Many are donating and helping with a blanket drive for street people in the Indian province of Rajasthan. It’s humbling and energizing to know I have the freedom to run after my passions and dreams.
4. Care about our kids. Oftentimes, churches will recognize ministers and their spouses for all they do, but they often forget the children who also have sacrificed for the ministry. Several times church members have done seemingly small, simple things that have meant a lot to our children. One family regularly gives our kids McDonald’s gift cards. Another woman brought lip gloss to my daughters. Still others have spent considerable and consistent time in prayer for our children. Those things minister to the kids and the parents.
5. Encourage the pastor. When I hear church members praising or encouraging my husband, I know his passion for the church burns brighter, which in turn gives me more drive to serve the church as well.
Pastors are leaders and servants of the church, but they are still human and they are not perfect. But when people tear down my husband publicly, it’s extremely painful. It cuts me to the core. If there is an issue, please take it directly to the pastor as the Bible says to do in Matthew 18.
6. Think of us with a gift. It can even be something small. It may be cliché, but it’s true: “It’s the thought that counts.” Just to be thought of or remembered makes one feel valued.
A church member randomly brought me a bag of my favorite candy one day. It seemed small to her, but it showed me she listened when I shared about something I enjoyed. That impacted me in a big way.
7. Write us a note. In this day and age of texts and email, a written letter is a lost art. When I receive a handwritten note, I know that particular person has taken extra time to show me they care.
I’m quick to delete an email or a text, but from time to time, I find handwritten notes tucked away in various places in my house. I can’t get rid of them because there is something special about those heartfelt letters.
8. Help us keep our marriage strong. Facilitate regular date nights. Volunteer to pay for a meal or babysit. With our five kids, it’s no small task for someone in our church family to make that sacrifice. But it’s imperative our marriage stay strong in order for the church ministry to stay strong.
A deacon and his wife said they would keep our kids for a few days, so we could get away together for a long weekend. That was a huge undertaking for them, but it was so beneficial to our marriage. This couple recognized it as a way to not only minister to us, but to our entire church as well.
9. Forgive us when we fail. Oftentimes, our mistakes are more exposed because of our position. Sometimes, the expectations placed on us and our children are unfair. But we are regular people doing our best to honor God and be obedient to His call on our lives.
We have struggles and we will mess up. Unfortunately, we will disappoint you along the way, but know we are sorry. Please, love us despite our flaws.
10. Be passionate about your relationship with Jesus. Nothing would bring us more delight than to know all of our prayers and service for the church were producing fruit in you. It would make it all worth it to see the church set ablaze and on fire for God.
11. Volunteer more. If a position is not filled at church, frequently a pastor’s spouse will feel pressured to fill it. Honor us by volunteering and helping carry the load in church more. It will show us you care about our ministry as much as we do.
12. Please think of us more than one time a year. Hopefully, you show love to your parents more than just on Mother’s and Father’s Day. Do the same for pastors and their families.
Although Pastor Appreciation Month comes around each October, we still need love and appreciation the other 11 months. Think of us from time to time – there is a good chance we need you!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kelly McCorkle Parkison (@KellyParkison) is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom to five kids in Manchester, Tenn.)