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January 19, 2019

The Imperfect Pastor

By Annie Garman

 Today I called my friend who just happens to be a pastor’s wife. 

“How are ya?” I ask casually.

“Not good,” she says, not trying to pretend in the least. 

My ears perk up as she opens up. 

“Okay, so what’s going on?” I dig a little until I run into some roots.

“We’re just having trouble this week. I don’t feel very loved by him.”

After several minutes of conversation, we come to the source of their primary struggle: she was frustrated that her husband didn’t respond perfectly to her apology. “It’s just that he’s a pastor. He shouldn’t treat me this way.”

Wow. 

I am standing at the window now, watching snow calmly melt on the crunchy grass outsideIt’s as though she’s found and read my journal entry from last month.

 “Yeah, he’s a pastor, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect,” I say with such ease that I’m kind of surprised. The moment the words leave my mouth, I look up at God who I picture getting a good laugh at my advice. I roll my eyes in response to this made-up conversation with God. The truth is, He knows that first and foremost, this conversation is for me.

I continue to work out my thoughts aloud.  “I mean, in one sense, you’re right. He’s a pastor, therefore, he’s held to a higher standard …” I look up at the sky as I talk, an epiphany beginning to occur in my heart and mind. “He is expected to be self-controlled, sober minded, and above reproach.  The qualifications of an elder are kind of steep. But, that’s why he needs you. He needs your love and your support because he does have more pressure on him.” 

Long after we hang up the phone, I continue chewing on my own advice. 

Yes, our husbands have been called to do something unique and supernatural.  Yes, we all are called to live supernatural lives that can only be accomplished through dependence on the Holy Spirit. But, at the same time we have to recognize the unique pressures of our husband’s roles.  They bear up under burdens constantly, and it’s easy to be resentful about that instead of helpful.   

We get to see the pastor of the church when he’s worn out, frustrated, overwhelmed, discouraged, and short tempered.  Everyone else sees him when he’s slightly shinier.  Instead of being critical of that, we need to be understanding.  James 3:2 says, “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is mature, able also to control the whole body.”

The temptation is to hold over our husband’s head harsh reminders of their shortcomings. First, we should recognize that temptation.  Second, we must confront ourselves first and foremost, remembering “We all stumble in many ways.”  

That “all” includes us too.

 

P.S. This post is meant to encourage pastor’s wives to be gracious and understanding toward their husbands and their imperfections, not to turn a blind eye to actual sin that needs to be confronted and dealt with through church discipline. If your husband-pastor is in sin and is not repentant, then you should contact an elder or a staff member and voice your concern.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Annie Garman

Annie B. Garman is a pastor’s wife and mother to four excitable girls, and author of Unexpected Grace: When Your Child is Born With Half a Heart. She and her family serve at Pillar Church in Northern Virginia where the traffic is thick, but the church planting opportunities abound. Their network of churches is attempting to plant a reproducible gospel-centered church at every Marine Corps base around the world (praetorianproject.org). Her biggest passion is to know Christ and make Him known in whatever situation she finds herself in. Annie shares her thoughts on motherhood, mayhem, and the meaning of life at anniebgarman.com.

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