The pastor's husband - Not an easy road
This is the final of two parts looking at the supporting roles played by the pastor's spouse
'Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth'
- Malachi 2:15
'A lot has been written regarding the wife of a pastor. The Internet is filled with articles on how to behave as well as wonderful advice, but, put in the same search for the husband of a pastor and it comes up woefully lacking. It is the norm for the pastor to have his wife by his side at conventions, church gatherings - you name it. She dutifully gives support to the ministry standing by his side.
Flip the script and look at the husband of a female pastor. More often than not, she turns up to church alone with him tagging along on the rare occasions. Whereas women adjust easier into the role of the pastor's wife, it is a challenge for some husbands to give the kind of support that their wives need as they head the church ministry.
Family and Religion reached out to national youth director for the Church of God in Jamaica. Pastor Darren McKoy, who said the relationship is heavily dependent on the understanding that both parties may have.
"In situations like these, it is easy for the husband to feel inferior and neglected. In that instance, there would be a definite strain on the relationship, particularly how they relate to each other," he advised.
However, he believes that if a clear understanding is established, as it relates to the role and responsibility of both parties, then it will definitely limit any strain that may exist.
Unlike women who find it easier to adapt to the role they marry into, McKoy argued that men are never prepared for situations like these. "Most Jamaican men are not cultured or designed that way. They tend to see themselves as the leader or the head, the one who ought to be in charge. Mentally, they will not see themselves that way, especially if the woman is the minister and they are not," McKoy reasoned. "They would just see themselves as inferior or as 'the help'. That is why it is always important that both parties understand their role from the get go."
In acknowledging some of the challenges that might crop up into the relationship, the churchman said that some husbands could feel as though they are second place to the wife's ministry, while others will feel unappreciated, especially if the wife is completely absorbed in the ministry. "They may also feel less than a man since she will be seen in the eyes of others as a leader," McKoy pointed out. "How they communicate may become a factor as the wife may become so consumed with the ministry, that little attention is given to spending time together and having casual conversations outside of ministry together," he added.
All is not gloom and doom, though, as McKoy said it will be up to the pastors to set their priorities straight by knowing the value of their partners and how important they are - not only as their spouse but also to the ministry.
Regarding the supportive role husbands must play in that kind of a union, he pointed out that, by nature, the man sees himself as the protector and if a situation arises in church where his wife may be caught up in conflict, then he will have to allow her to handle it her way. If the husband has suggestions to make, he should choose the appropriate time and place and not publicly confront or challenge her in the church," McKoy advised.
He cautioned: "It is important for them to spend time together weekly. It is also important for the wife to continuously reassure the husband that he is still the head. Allow him to be the head, don't allow your leadership abilities to downplay his role as the husband."
Just as the woman should be cognisant of her behaviour as the wife of a pastor, so too must the man keep himself in check, knowing that everything he does is a reflection on his wife.