My wife’s unsupportive and I’m falling for minister on my leadership team

I’ve got a major problem that I’m too embarrassed about to share with my leadership team or mentor. I pastor a church. I love what I do, but my wife has never been particularly supportive of my ministry, as it was something she got thrust into, as we became Christians after our marriage. It would help me greatly if she supported me, but seeing as she doesn’t, I’ve just got on with what God has called me to do.  Recently, however, a dynamic minister has joined the leadership team. The more I see her and hear her minister, the more I feel attracted towards her. We speak quite a lot, and she’s very encouraging of my pastorate – everything my wife is not. I know it isn’t right to be developing these kinds of feelings for a woman who is not my wife, and I don’t want to act on them, although I’m sure this woman has no idea of how I feel. I’d really welcome any advice you can give in helping me deal with this situation. I don’t want to fall into temptation and bring shame on my God or bring myself into disrepute.

Name withheld

Esther Fenty replies

I have shared with my friends in ministry that I ask a particular question every time I attend an ordination service or appointment of a leader, where the wife is encouraged to support her husband in the ministry: Who supports the wife? Furthermore, it appears that there is little preparation for the wives in taking up their new roles, where there is no written manual, but everyone has an opinion and different expectations. Yet, more often than not, the ministers have theological training/preparation classes according to denominational requirements.

Many ministers’ wives are just left to ‘get on with it’, and are criticised for merely existing. If he does well, he’s a fine man, but if he does wrong, ‘It’s her fault’. If the church is supportive, she fares better, but she needs to know that she can find solace in the arms of her man when she is accused, convicted and condemned.

It is possible that she is struggling with the role of the minister’s wife. It is sometimes difficult for a woman to cope with this role after marrying a quiet, unassuming Christian man, who is then unexpectedly propelled into a position of leadership. How much more difficult is it for those who become Christians after marriage, and find themselves in this position!

On the one hand, your wife may not want to stand in God’s way, as she recognises that God has called her husband into ministry. At the same time, the demands of the ministry can lead to stress.

Discuss with your wife how you can support each other. Perhaps she feels that she is being supportive by creating a home environment, where you, as a minister, can feel comfortable and relaxed. Maybe she is unaware that you are looking for support in different ways. You won’t know how she is feeling until you open the channels of communication.

Focus on deepening your relationship with your wife, rather than fostering one with the dynamic minister. Consider everything that she is, rather than what she is not. Love and cherish her in the way that Christ loves the Church, and you will reap dividends in love and support. Plan special times where you can be together; surprise her with treats; rekindle the flame, and you will find less time to think about the dynamic preacher. Remember that ministering to your wife is just as important as your other ministries. Be that special leader who takes his wife along with him on his spiritual journey.

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