Dear Church Family,
Recently, I listened to an interview of Pastor Kent Hughes where he said something to the effect of how he works slowly, how he spends a lot of time in preparation because he does not have the particular gift of preaching extemporaneously; it’s not as easy for him as it is perhaps for others to think and speak on his feet. I can’t tell you how comforting it was to hear someone of Pastor Hughes experience and caliber (I’ve read and benefited from several of his books) to articulate something that I’ve come to learn about myself. I tend to think of myself more of a writer who preaches than a preacher who writes. In this regard, anyway, Pastor Hughes and I are kindred spirits. Now you know one of the reasons why I like to use detailed handouts in Sunday school!
My inability to extemporize very well was brought home to me this week as I’ve been reflecting on our congregational information meeting we had on Sunday. As I’ve thought about that meeting in which we received reports from various ministries in the church and recognized the hard work of many who serve our church, I realized that I failed to give adequate appreciation for my wife, particularly in her role as a pastor’s wife – my wife. So, if you don’t mind me taking a little pastoral privilege, I would like to do so now. I have been convicted this week that I often focus so much on pastoring the members of the congregation that I sometimes fail to pastor my wife and children.
The Blessings of a Christian Wife
Like all good Christian wives and mothers who seek to fulfill their God-given callings, my wife respects and supports me, and loves and cares for our children, in a manner that is both natural and beautiful. She maintains a wonderful Christian witness and honors the word of God, by loving her husband well (despite his many failings), and loving our children (no matter how they behave); she is sensible, maturing in purity, makes our family and our home her priority, expresses and shows kindness to others, and is subject to her own husband (again, despite his many failings!) (Titus 2:4-5).
Proverbs 31:10-31 provides the high calling of an excellent wife (or a ‘woman of valor’) – her worth is far above jewels (v 10). For those wives and mothers who pursue – often unnoticed – this lofty ideal, her children ought to rise up and bless her (v 28). Every Christian husband, who is privileged to be married to a Christian woman that seeks to live her life in service to her Savior and sacrifices for her family, ought to praise her saying, “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all” (v 29).
It is too easy to take your wife for granted. I hope that each of you husbands who is blessed with a Christian wife will take this as a reminder to express your praise and gratitude (to God and to your wife). For my part, I would also like to publicly express my praise and gratitude for a wife who, in my mind, excels as the wife of a pastor.
Of course, Stacie is beautiful in appearance and I was attracted to her, her distinctive red hair, and beautiful singing voice right from the start. But her adornment is not merely external, but the hidden person of the heart – the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God (and mine, as well!) (1 Peter 3:3-4). Much more could be said, but let me just share a couple of aspects in which her precious spirit is made manifest in some of her unique qualities and contributions to my ministry as a pastor.
A Heart for God and for Ministry
Stacie came to faith later in her late teens, and grew in her love and zeal for the Lord through college. After college, she worked with the organization Youth For Christ, leading weekly clubs and Bible studies with students in the public schools. She came to the conviction that doctrine was important and that she needed to know more about the Scriptures and what it teaches, so she packed up everything she owned and drove a U-Haul by herself from North Carolina to Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Orlando, FL. She had enough money for one year of seminary. That money ran out, so she went to work and paid her way to finally complete her degree, a Masters of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS).
I met and got to know Stacie while I attended RTS. I first saw her playing guitar and singing in the campus chapel services, then got to know her better through talks in the library and in a prayer group comprised of seminary students. Stacie graduated from seminary before I did, so when we first started dating, she was working at the Orlando Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter for women and children. In ministry since we’ve been married (sixteen and a half years, now), she has always had an active role in ministering to people, especially to the women and children of the church (leading women’s Bible studies, teaching Sunday school, serving in the nursery, VBS, and in many ‘behind-the-scene’ ways).
This background helps to see, I think, that Stacie has a genuine concern for people’s welfare and the interests of Christ (Philippians 2:20-21). If there is any aura of grace and hospitality in our home, it is due to my wife. She welcomes all to our home with a convivial spirit which I find difficult to imitate. Whether it is in the church, or in relationships outside the church, she blesses people with her genuine interest and concern for their welfare. As she’s matured as a Christian woman, wife, and mother, I’ve been witness to how she brings her theological and life-lived wisdom to bear, encouraging other women, young and old.
A Mind for Theology
The other area in which my wife aids in my ministry is with her mind for the Scriptures, doctrine, and theology. As I mentioned above, Stacie has a seminary education, so when we first were married not only did the two of us become one, but so did our libraries. To this day, I will pull a theological or reference book off the shelf and find her marks and handwriting in them. I read, with interest, what she highlighted and commented on.
But it “ain’t just book-learnin’” that sets Stacie apart. I know of few people who I trust more than her when it comes to the gift of discernment – in teaching, preaching, doctrine, living the Christian life, etc. I don’t know many pastors who are as privileged as I am to have a wife who can proof-read their sermons and things that they’ve written and provide such helpful feedback – not only in the areas of grammar and clarity, but also in theological orthodoxy and precision.
Especially when I first began preaching regularly, most of my sermons and things that I taught were proof-read by my wife. Even now, when looking for input and feedback, what I preach and teach has either been helpfully edited by my wife or has been made better through conversations with her. (What I’m presently writing is the exception, she has no idea that I’m writing this and won’t until others read it.) On a less tangible level, her support, feedback, and input – our relationship – has made me a better pastor (and a better person, for that matter).
Especially in pre-marital counseling, Stacie is a great help as well; she is able to speak to couples who are preparing for marriage about the role of the Christian wife in ways that are unique and indispensable. In ministering to others, my wife is able – with grace and a loving spirit – to bring her theological acumen together with her heart to serve others. I, and those to whom God has called me to minister, are better for it.
An Excellent Wife, I Have Found!
The description and extolling of the ‘excellent wife’ of Proverbs 31 begins this way: “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels” (Proverbs 31:10). I can answer that question: an excellent wife (a true woman of valor), I have found!
When I was a lieutenant in the army, serving as the executive officer of an infantry company, I once approached my commander seeking feedback, “Sir, how am I doing?” He said, “LT, you’re doing fine – and consider yourself to be doing fine until I tell you otherwise.” That worked in the army, but it doesn’t work well in a marriage. I tend to think (erroneously) that I declared my love and appreciation for my wife when we were married – and, that should suffice. But, it isn’t so.
As I said at the beginning, I don’t consider myself to have the gift of extemporaneous speaking. And, I’m usually not one to publicly express my love and appreciation for my wife as often as I should. But, King Lemuel tells us (something which he got from his mother, by the way, Proverbs 31:1), “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:30-31).
So, here’s to my excellent wife, Stacie: she is a treasure to her husband and the epitome of a pastor’s wife!
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch