“Words of encouragement to a wife are like water to a plant.” When I read that quote recently, I thought about how true that statement is: Every wife needs and craves encouragement from her husband.
My husband is masterful at showing me love: He plans date nights, gifts me with a box of Junior Mints just when I’m withdrawing, lovingly engages our children and leads our home well. But there is nothing like a well-timed word of encouragement from him! Hearing Kyle say I’m a good mom, that he appreciates my cooking, that I’m beautiful, that he sees God using me – those words reenergize me for days.
There is another reason why Kyle’s words of encouragement are necessary: My husband is a church-planting pastor. God has used us to build a church from the ground up, work that has been both grueling and rewarding. The first year of church planting was especially difficult for me because of the uncertainty, the instability and the magnitude of the work. Without my husband’s verbal encouragement and attentiveness, I could not have made it through.
Church planter, your wife also will face unique challenges in your first year of church planting. At times she will feel discouraged, overwhelmed, even resentful of the time and energy your job requires of you. As you seek to nurture your wife, there are many things you can do: draw clear boundaries between ministry and home life from the very beginning, protect her from essentially becoming a second staff member and strive to ease your own worry and distraction so you can give her your undivided attention.
But nothing you can do equals the effect of your encouragement.
After a sermon or a church outreach event, my husband receives a pat on the back or words of affirmation about how God has used him. But who encourages me in my role as the pastor’s wife – focusing on the needs of the pastor? That opportunity primarily belongs to my husband. When he acknowledges and affirms my ministry to him and to others around me, he waters my soul, helping me grow and blossom in my role.
This needs for encouragement isn’t irrational or the result of a wrong focus. Proverbs 31 describes a husband who is well-known in the community, sitting among the elders of the land. At the gates of the city, he receives respect and affirmation. His wife also offers her admiration and honors him by how she lives. But where does the godly wife receive encouragement? “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all’” (vv. 28-29).
Just like the Proverbs 31 husband, water your wife through specific praise:
- “I was feeling discouraged, but your words helped me persevere.”
- “You and your gifts are vital to our ministry.”
- “You are more important to me than the church.”
- “Thank you for the sacrifices you make that allow me to do my job well.
Like you, church planters, your wife continually gives to others. Many people don’t think about or understand her needs or the demands on her life. You may be the only source of encouragement your wife receives on a continual basis, and her wellbeing will have a profound influence on your success. Through your words of blessing, you have an opportunity to minister to your wife in a way no one else can, especially through the first grueling year.
This originally was published in Church Planting Thresholds: A Gospel Centered Church Planting Guide by NewCityPlanting.org ©2016
Published May 4, 2022