If your husband is in full-time service in some capacity, whether it be a pastor, assistant pastor, teaching in a Christian school, a missionary, etc., you can be sure of one thing—the devil does not like it and his desire is to destroy your ministry. This is also true for any Christian, no matter what kind of occupation you have. If you and your husband are trying to live for the Lord and serve Him with your life, the devil does not like it and he will do everything in his power to disrupt and destroy your life. Since this column is especially written for those who are serving in full-time Christian service, that is where I want to put my emphasis. But many of these truths apply to the lay person as well. Satan is your enemy—and his desire is to make you fall.
Statistics show that only twenty percent of the people who begin in the ministry actually stay in the ministry. I am sure you can think back to many men you know who used to be a pastor or used to be serving on the mission field. Some of those had to quit because of health reasons or other legitimate factors. Satan can use even situations like this to get us discouraged and hopeless. But the majority of those who quit were casualties due to sin—which is where Satan comes in. If he can get us caught up in sin, he knows that our effectiveness in the ministry is gone. Soon we will be just another statistic.
Here are some more statistics I found that are very disheartening and disturbing:
* 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
* 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their roles.
* 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
* 80% of pastor’s wives feel their spouse is overworked.
* 80% of pastor’s wives feel left out and unappreciated by the church members.
* 80% of pastor’s wives wish their spouse would choose another profession.
* 45% of pastor’s wives fear physical, emotional, and spiritual burnout.
* 60% of pastor’s wives work outside the home.
* 45% of pastor’s wives say they have no close friends or mentors.
* The majority of pastor’s wives surveyed say that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
* Almost 40% polled say that they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
* 50% of pastor’s marriages end in divorce.
I am not sure how long ago these statistics were written, but my guess would be that the figures would be even higher today. Another thing to consider—these statistics take in all religious denominations, so we could probably safely say that in Baptist circles, the statistics would be much lower. At least I would hope so. As I look back through that list, I must say that most of those things never applied in my life when my husband was a pastor. And it sounds like a lot of them are having a pity party; they need to remind themselves who they are serving and get their heart right with God!
But all in all, these statistics are pretty scary—and they show us just how intensely the devil is working to destroy the lives of those who are in the ministry. You can be assured that his desire is to destroy your husband, your family, your marriage, and your ministry. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a statistic. I don’t ever want to quit on God, and I don’t want to fall prey to Satan’s destructive devices.
As a wife of a man who is serving full-time in Christian service, we have a rather unique position. Technically, we could say that the ministry is our husband’s, not ours. Now, that point could be debated, since a lot of our husband’s success in the ministry rests on us as his wife. But I think you know what I mean. We as women do not get up in the pulpit and preach. We do however work alongside our husband in many things and behind the scenes doing various and sundry tasks. So when I say that we, as women, have the power to ruin our husband’s ministry, it is a frightening truth. God forbid that I, as a wife, should ever hinder or hurt what God desires to do through the leadership and ministry of my husband.
So what can you as a wife do to guard against Satan’s attacks? How can we keep from being just another statistic? It starts by recognizing the areas in your life where Satan can get a stronghold. I find that two of the major areas where he attacks those in the ministry are pride and discontentment. Both of these areas are attitudes of the heart and sometimes are hard to pinpoint.
Pride is one we all wrestle with—and it doesn’t get any easier with age! Pride is not only blatant arrogance—“I am the pastor’s wife, and I am much more spiritual than the other women in our congregation”—but pride is a deceitful sin, and sometimes we don’t even realize that we are infected. Pride shows up when we are easily irritated, when we don’t get our way, or when we are annoyed by the inconvenience of a trial. Pride takes over when we accept praise that belongs to God.
Pride is evident when we don’t want to admit to making a mistake, or when we know we have a problem but we refuse to receive Godly counsel. A proud person is also seen in a competitive spirit. “Do I teach as well as she does? Do I sing as well as that lady?” Pride causes us to desire to be better than the next person. Pride shows up in every situation in which we act apart from God or we pat ourselves on the back for doing such a good job.
The longer you serve in the ministry, the more you must guard your heart from pride. As you look back over the years of a successful ministry, the tendency is to be prideful of all that you have accomplished. We forget that all those things were made possible because of the grace of God. We were only there and available and God let us in on the blessing and used our lives. To Him be all the honor and glory and praise!
Discontentment is seen in thoughts like this: “Oh, if I just had this or that, I could really serve the Lord.” Or, “I have been faithfully serving the Lord for many years. I deserve better than this.” Or, “If my husband had a big church like that, we could see great results too.” Too many times we compare ourselves with others and what they enjoy, and think that we should have those things too. We always think that if we just had a little bit more, we would have everything we wanted and needed. And in the process, we become people who are never satisfied.
We need to remember that God is sovereign and He has placed us right where we are for a purpose. He also promises to give us everything that we need—therefore we need to be content in Him and in what we have, not always wishing for more. The solution to our discontentment and discouragement is not another ministry or someone else’s blessings. The solution is contentment!
Pride and discontentment—these are the two most common reasons that a wife whose husband is in the ministry becomes frustrated and discouraged. These sinful attitudes can not only cause problems in your life, but in your husband’s life as well—and can ultimately lead to a destruction of his ministry. Ladies, don’t underestimate the devil’s desire to destroy your husband’s ministry in any way he can—even if it means using you. Learn to say with the apostle Paul, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
Beverly is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and Doug Hammett have been married for over 35 years. Since her father was a pastor and her husband was already a pastor when she married him, she is well acquainted with the blessings as well as the problems of the ministry! Bev’s favorite things to do are read and spend time with her family.
In Autumn of 2010, Doug stepped aside from his position as senior pastor at LVBC to reach and train men in Botswana and South Africa. Beverly continues to write for our ladies publication, giving her unique perspective of life in the ministry, and now life on the mission field. You can read more about their ministry here.