YOUR WIFE AND FAMILY
By Harry Haygood
When is a man considered a success? There are several measures that some men look to and they feel like they have succeeded in life. One of these is by his relationship with his God and the condition of his home and family.
The statement has been made, “Success or failure in life is better determined in a man’s home than in his profession.” Success in any other field does not make up for failure at home. There are several things that God expects of any father or husband and an evangelist is no exception to the rule.
One of these is that he should be a provider. In other words, he should be able to look ahead. Because of the position of his office, the evangelist must provide not only natural but also spiritual needs for his home. He must be able to look to and be aware of the needs of his home and make provision for them just as Christ provides for the church. He must love his family when they are unlovely. He must love them at times by faith for what they should become and there will be many times in the life of an evangelist when there will be sacrificial love because of the calling and the demand of his calling.
The evangelist is the “priest” of his family. He has the ability to touch God about some things that belong to the prerogative of a father.
He also is the protector He will protect his wife and children if there are any, from certain things that would cause them difficulties in living for God. He will protect them from the knowledge of some things that would affect them deeply spiritually He is not trying to be deceitful He is not trying to keep something hid den that needs to be discussed or known but there are some circumstances and events, (at times comments and conversations) that it would certainly be better for him not to share with his wife or his children There are things that belong specifically to certain areas and they will have to be dealt with as such.
An evangelist’s family is different from any other family situation that I know of. Having evange1i over a decade before assuming my present pastorate I have had the opportunity to live in two very different family circumstances. Each has its own demands and problems. What works in a pastor’s family does not necessarily work in an evangelist’s family.
As a ministering family, you sometimes Suspect that pieces of your life are already cut out for you— that your life is prefabricated
People will judge you by your family. You must first teach your family. Then, you can teach others. You must be able to control your family. Just be sure that you do it with love—not simply to prove who is boss. Some men who have strong feelings about being henpecked assume the dominating role of always being in control and in charge. It has been my experience that the man who really rules his home does not have to make a point of proving to people that he is boss.
One of the most important things that you have to remember is that you are your wife’s pastor. When she has a problem or she is disturbed, lonely, hurt, con fused, or frightened, she cannot dial a number and arrange a counseling session for tomorrow. Remember, she is 1500 miles away from the home church she left to be your bride. You have got to take time to listen to her. Most of the time, you are the only person to whom she can really open her soul.
There is a danger in a pastor’s wife being the recipient of all of the needs of an evangelist’s wife. There are some things she can talk to other people about, but only her pastor can answer some spiritual needs in her life. An evangelist must never be too busy to take time out and let his wife pour her heart out and tell him the things that are troubling her. He may never have pastored but he can get some answers from God for the needs that she has.
I would like to deal with the relationship of the evangelist’s wife and the family and the importance of that relationship as far as his ministry is concerned. Several years ago when I first began my evangelistic ministry, I was at the home of a friend. There were some things I wanted to ask him about some problems my wife and I were facing. He made a statement that neither she nor I have forgotten. He reminded her that an evangelist’s wife must learn to be lonely. Her husband’s time will of necessity, if he is a good evangelist, be taken up with study and much prayer and a goodly portion, if not most of the day, will find him either in the church office or some place provided for him where he can fast, pray and study.
For a man to be the very best that he can be at the work of an evangelist, he must have a deep affinity with the Holy Ghost. He must know the Spirit of God like a mechanic knows how to work on an engine and like a pilot knows how to fly a plane He must be a sensitive man and the only way that sensitivity will come is by being much alone with God. He and his wife will have their times to pray together, times to be together, but unless they are equipped with a trailer or they have an evangelist quarters provided, many times the evangelist’ wife must spend most of the day trying to fit herself into the routine of a pastor’s home.
I know the feeling of living with in four walls; suitcases stacked one on top of another when it looks like all of your possessions are piled into one room. That is simply part of the price of being an evangelist and, if there are no children in that family as yet, a great deal of that time will be left on that wife’s hands. She can spend it wisely. She can use it to her advantage or she can let it become a point of frustration.
Because an evangelist and his wife are going into new homes and flew churches often, a statement made by one of our pastor’s wives to my wife still makes sense today. Don’t take everyone’s standards as your standards Some churches you are going to go into, have personal convictions and church standards preached there that are going to be different from your person convictions It is always wise to do your best to honor those personal convictions while you are there, but don’t take every standard that anybody preaches Do not take every personal Conviction and make that your own. It will not take long until you find yourself so confused that you are swirling in a morass that you will find difficult to get out of.
Approach your Convictions with prayer, the Word of God and sincerity, and then stand by them. Lock them in your heart. You do not have to make a practice of preaching them to everybody that you see. The way you look will say plenty about what you believe. Just be sure that you practice them conscientiously and consistently.
An evangelist’s wife should understand that there are times that her husband needs quietness and solitude. You have studied all day, you have prayed, you have fasted, you have preached your heart out. There has been a mighty move of God, conversion of a number of souls, revival is going well, and the pastor is pleased, the congregation is pleased. But an evangelist often comes out of an evangelistic service wound up as tight as a watch spring.
Sometimes the fellowship that is offered after church is enough to alleviate some of that pressure, but not always. Sleep may not be forthcoming for a number of hours after you and the pastor have said good night. In those times, a man does not always wish to talk. He may want to get someplace just for a little bit of quietness as something drains out of him that enables him to relax and enjoy his family.
Because he is not there so much during the day, many times the wife feels frustrated and unloved be cause he does not take more time than he does. Please try to understand that this is part of his unwinding. He needs to relax. If he is a wise husband and a considerate man, as soon as he feels the tension drain out of him, he will be willing to give all the time necessary for talk and fellowship with his wife.
An evangelist should plan his week so that one day of that week he spends time with his wife. Most pastors are going to try to plan your time for you. They are not trying to take advantage of you. They simply want to see that you are not forgotten or neglected. Explain to him that you would like one day just for you and your wife. You may shop; you may go to a local place of interest or simply get in the car and make a little side trip.—as long as the two of you are together. Get away from the church. Get away from the pastor’s home or the trailer or evangelistic quarters. Simply enjoy one another’s
You need to do this to refresh yourselves and remind yourself that you are in this together. Don’t plan on going with the pastor on rest day and leave your wife to her own devices. Don’t plan on the pastor’s wife taking care of her while you go fishing be cause there will be many things that she will be busy with, herself. If her husband is not home, there are pastoral calls that must be answered. Sometimes, there is some Counseling that she can give in her husband’s absence. There will be church responsibilities and duties that the evangelist’s wife is not yet concerned about because they are not yet her responsibilities. So you need to provide a day that is your day out.
Let, it be known what you plan to do and then do it. Some pastors may remonstrate with you and you may be the subject of some joking. You may even find some folks that may have their feelings hurt a little bit, but you need to explain to them this time is time you need together.
It was not intended for the woman to have to handle the finances. You handle the checkbook, you pay the bills, and you worry over what comes in and what goes out. Your wife does not need that worry. She is not equipped to handle it as well as you are. A man operates under that kind of pressure better than the wife does. So from the very beginning, after the bills are paid, finances are squared away, be sure to give her a certain amount of money each week to use for her own needs. It is her money. Whatever she wants to buy; whatever she wants to use it for—it is money. It is none of your business; do not ask questions.
Your wife will share not only in your failures but also in your successes. You need to be aware of the fact that she is going to be a part of a successful evangelistic career.
An evangelist is a self-made man. His growth comes by observing the methods of other men, by staying much in the Word of God, by being sensitive and being led of God He will learn the principles that will help him be successful We say “ministers that fell” when what we really mean is “men that fell”
If a man is a failure, his revivals do not produce If he finds himself in a position where there are no more invitations, his wife shares in that failure Her esteem and her self-respect is going to be built to a great degree on your ability and your own successes. There is a way to distinguish the difference between a good evangelist and a mediocre evangelist. One will pay the price and do the will of God. The other man will simply ride along with the tide and try to be as good as the next fellow. Don’t forget, your wife is going to be a part of that.
An evangelist’s wife must share the burden of her husband. Unfortunately, there are men that have married only to find that their wives refuse to help them carry the burden of their ministry. I have seen wives who have stayed at home and let their husbands travel—and not because there was sickness or any other need. They simply did not feel that they wanted to be an evangelist’s wife. They find other things to do while their husbands are out doing the work of God. The evangelist needs his wife to fast, pray, with people, to show concern and to share his with him.
For the first several years of my evangelist ministry, I was troubled with an incurable disease that made it almost impossible for me to fast. I was continually losing a lot of blood. I went through times of weakness, and yet my wife, knowing my physical condition, more than once went on seven day fasts in revivals we preached. She gave herself to fasting so that she could be an asset to me. I have never forgotten. She was willing not only to share my burden but also to make herself a part of my ministry by becoming inseparable to my ministry. We became the kind of team that God intended for us to be. I would never have reached and never can reach the full potential that God expects without her.
An evangelist’s wife is not inferior just because her husband is an evangelist. The work of the evangelist is not a second-rate ministry. You are not simply just traveling around the country looking for a church to settle down in. The work of an evangelist is one of the most satisfying, one of the most fulfilling, and also one of the most necessary ministries that we have
Even though some pastors esteem the work of an evangelist, others may look at an evangelist as one who simply is waiting until he has enough experience so some church will vote him in as a pastor. God calls some men to be full time career evangelists and the wives must realize that their husbands have a touch of God on their lives that makes them unique rare and desirable. There will come a time when, as you are faithful to God and in the place God wants you to be, you will not be able to fill all the invitations you receive. This is part of the self-esteem that God builds into this ministry—not cockiness, just simply knowing that you are in the will of God and that there is a place for you that only you can fill.
Please allow your wife to be herself. Don’t expect her to fit a certain mold. If she does not sing or does not play, don’t force her. God designed each one of us according to a certain pattern. He gave your wife talents and abilities that will complement your ministry. Her particular work may be around the altar. Her particular anointing may be in the prayer room. Her ability to do the work of God may lie in the area of dealing with other people. But, just because she does not do some of the things in which some evangelists’ wives excel does not mean that she does not have a ministry of her own and that she will not be an in valuable asset to you. Don’t worry about defending her when people ask, “Well, what does she do?” You simply remind them God has given her certain talents and abilities and that you could not be what you are and what you want to be without her.
Brother J. T. Pugh told us a number of years ago when I was still in Bible college that there was no house big enough for two women. Please do your best to understand that at times your wife is going to feel frustrated with the succession of evangelistic quarters, churches, motels, motor homes or trailers. Many things have changed over the past few years. There will be times when you will be staying with the pastor. You will have to adjust your schedule to fit more with their schedule of meals, rising, and things that are done during the day. If this is the case, be aware of the fact that your wife will need to get away for certain periods of time during that week. This is another woman’s home, another woman’s dishes, another woman’s appliances. Your wife will feel a little strained about taking liberty with them. She can offer to help, but many times a pastor’s wife will not allow the evangelist’s wife to help. Let her make all the overtures that she can to be of assistance in that household. When she feels that the line is drawn and that this is what she is to do and no more, then understand that she needs your help and your support and she needs to get away for awhile.
Provide your wife with a sense of security. It is a fact that most evangelists do not own a home. They own literally no furniture, generally no property. Most of what you will have will be in your automobile, your trailer or a motor home (if you have one), and a few things that you have stacked away in your mother-law’s attic or your folks’ home. Your wife needs to know by your integrity and by your ministry that you are looking ahead to provide some security for that marriage.
A pastor has security by virtue of his being settled down with a steady income. He may be on a percentage and that will vary from week to week, but he still gets paid for expenses when he goes to conference and a gift at Christmas He gets paid in the summer when the youth camps are going on, but in evangelist has to stay busy during that time or else he will find himself financially in difficulties.
You can set some money aside for savings. You can also begin to make some long-range plans. When your wife is aware of the fact that you are providing for her and for a family that is to come, it will give her a great sense of satisfaction and will settle some of the fears she will have to face. Women by nature are home oriented and their business and pursuit is about the home. So, remember to reassure her constantly; let her know that you have things in hand and that you are taking care of her,
An evangelist’s wife is going to catch quite a bit of criticism—both about herself and her husband. If she is thin-skinned or overly sensitive, she is going to battle anger, resentment, a finally bitterness. It is impossible for you to please everybody all the time. There is going to be some criticism about your methods, your messages, and your ministry, and because she is a part of you, that criticism is going to affect her.
You may understand that criticism is part of the ministry, just like being hurt is. Because you love the work of God and love the call that God has on your life, you are willing to face the fact that you will hurt. But you cannot let that hurt turn into hate.
Some of the very people who will ay the most hurtful things to you will in the future (if you keep your spirit and attitude kind, prayerful and loving) become your best friends. When they know more about you and understand you better, they begin to appreciate the things that they were critical of at first.
Your wife will have to understand that everybody is not going to like your ministry and you are not going to be received 100% everywhere you preach. There will be those not willing to take the steps of consecration, of evangelism, and of soulwinning—of these personal efforts that you are taking to make your ministry effective. That is going to call for something to be said and carnal people are going to say it. Just be careful of your attitude.
Husband, remember that you are one of the greatest encouragements that your wife has. Give her that encouragement. At the same time, the wife needs to realize that there are times that nobody can say to her husband what she can say. She can become her husband’s biggest fan, his number one supporter. She can root for him in his corner every time he steps into the pulpit.
There are ministers’ wives that regularly make it their practice that from the time their husbands take the pulpit until they finish, they are in prayer. I have noticed women through the years who drop their heads and begin to talk to God for the mighty anointing of the Holy Ghost to be on their husbands that night and that God would shut away all distractions so he can move freely in the realm of the Spirit
An evangelist’s wife will profit her husband ministry greatly by avoiding gossip. Because you travel continually, you will hear many things about many ministers. Make it a practice to keep unsavory information to yourself. Tell all the good things you know. Talk about the good things that are happening in churches, in lives and in ministers. But be very careful that you do not obtain a reputation for knowing and telling all of the latest news. Do not exchange information about saints, pastors or churches.
A good rule to follow is to be very charitable. There is something good you can say about every man you have preached for, every church you have been in, every congregation you have ministered to. If you make it your practice to repeat things that are unpleasant and things that are unsavory, your words have a way of traveling like light. There is a grapevine in our organizational system that is faster than any thing you have ever seen. If you make such statements, believe me, you will face them somewhere else further down the road.
I have preached for men who have deliberately told me confidential things and waited a period of time—in one particular case several months—to see if there was ever any repeating of that confidentiality. Since there was not, we had many confidential talks after that. He wanted to put me to a little test to see if I could be trusted with the confidence of a man’s heart and the confidence of his church.
An evangelist’s wife must learn to guard her feelings. You don’t need to take the position that you have the right to say what you think to anybody, anywhere. If you have things to say, why not say them to the Lord first in prayer and pray that problem through.
Many of the problems I faced when I evangelized, because I went to God in prayer about them, God cleared them up. I got them off my mind and they ceased giving me difficulties. Consequently, my personal relations with that pastor or that church and whatever the problem was did not adversely affect me later on. I had already given it to God.
Women are more emotional and are more prone to say things than their husbands. Yet an evangelist’s wife will find out that the less she can say unless she is saying something good the better off she is. It is best for people not to know a great deal about yourself or a great deal about your family. A wife does not need to open up her heart to every pastor’s wife when you go to preach. She is going to have some good friends. She is going to make some close friendships on the evangelistic field, but she needs to bear in mind that every body will not want to know the information they are asking about simply to be a friend.
If you and your wife have a strong disagreement during the day, settle it. Clear the air before the service; otherwise, your message that night will be hollow when you look out into that congregation and realize that there are unresolved disputes, words, feelings, and disagreements between you and your wife. That will disrupt the unity of the Spirit and it will hinder the service. You might as well pack your Bible up and close your message because you are trying to preach to people out of a troubled heart where there is unsettled dispute.
One of the greatest problems an evangelist and his wife will face is not finances. It will not be what to do with the children. If the man is a good evangelist, a sincere man who walks with God, it will not be having difficulties in having a place to go and a place to preach. It is going to be the lack of time together. Your wife can wither on the vine emotionally because you as an evangelist do not take the time to express to her what you are really feeling. You must have time together. It may not be the same time every day, but make sure there is a time.
Some men simply do not want to take time to listen to what they consider frivolous conversation. You need to consider the time that your wife talks to you and you listen as prime time reserved for each other. Make it the day you take out of the week for each other. Make it a part of every day—perhaps, be fore you go to sleep at night or during the middle of the day. Come what may, you reserve that time for each other. Keep that time. If others begin to intrude on it, after a while there will be a deep resentment be cause your wife will feel that everybody else is more important than she is and that she is last in line. You have time for everybody else and their problems but not hers. It is going to make it much easier for her to share your burden if she also can share your time.
Your wife can be the greatest asset to you or she can be your greatest hindrance. You can be her greatest spiritual director or you can be the most devastating, damaging thing that has every come into her life.
Mutual love, respect, concern and interest in each other are essential for your ministry to be successful. Your children will see the spirit of love that exists between you and your wife. The fact that you respect each other, the fact that you respect those children, God will make your ministry richer and fuller until the things you want to say you can preach freely because your life backs them up. You have lived and are living what you preach.
There is no more satisfying feeling in the world than to know that you are in the will of God, success fully doing what God has called you to do with a family that is behind you, respects you and loves you.