And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Have you ever found yourself staring subconsciously into a fish bowl? Is it the environment; the greenery, or that beautiful faux pas picture pasted to the back of the bowl? Maybe it’s not about the fish at all, but its liquid surroundings allowing the stresses of life to float away.
Experts from the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth University and the University of Exeter assessed people’s physical and mental responses to tanks containing varying levels of fish. Thy found viewing aquarium displays led to noticeable reductions in blood pressure and heart rate, and higher numbers of fish helped to hold people’s attention for longer and improve their moods.
Looking into a fish tank can be therapeutic for the viewer, but what does it do to the fish?
Imagine day and night, being subject to people peering into your life and making judgments.
The life of a pastor’s family has been compared to living in a fish bowl. Everyone is watching. Peering through the imaginary glass to see what they do, what they say, to catch them making a mistake. They watch to see if the Pastor’s family is human.
Do they yell at their children?
Does she nag her husband? Is he domineering or hen pecked?
Do they curse when they stump their toe or hit their thumb with a hammer?
Why don’t they have any children? Why do they have so many children?
Why do they homeschool or put their children in private Christian school? Why do their children go to public school?
Why does she work outside the home? Why doesn’t she have a job?
I think you get the picture.
How do we help this fish, disguised as a pastor’s wife in the tank.
Cover her with prayer.
Children love pets and it’s a great way to teach them responsibility. If you have an aquarium around children, due to their curiosity, you need a cover on the tank to keep the children from dropping things in, mishandling the fish and preventing the fish from jumping out. Yes, as a defense mechanism to facilitate rapid escape from predators, fish jump when startled, or when harassed by other fish.
As an aquarium dweller, I can attest to my need for a cover. Covered in prayer that is.
Sometimes the level of stress from being the pastor’s wife makes my fight or flight alarm go off. I try not to fight, but I have a tendency to run, or jump out of that tank.
Covering your pastor’s wife in prayer is the best thing you can do for her. You don’t need to know any specifics about her life. Lift her and her family in prayer daily, praying for their emotional, physical, and spiritual strength.
Create an environment conducive to connecting.
For decades goldfish have been kept in small bowls, that’s why they have such short life spans. Ammonia builds up quickly in a small space and the environment becomes toxic.
Did you know that a gold fish can live up to 30 years? The largest goldfish recorded was 18.7 inches long. That beats the length of any goldfish we ever had by a several inches.
The Barna research group reports the average tenure for a Baptist pastor is four years. That’s a sad indictment due the fact that churches with long term pastors thrive much better than those who have a fast turnover rate.
Churchleaders.com shares that one of the top ten reasons Pastor’s leave their church is due to loneliness. Pastor’s wives suffer from this malady even more than their husbands.
There are many reasons for this loneliness ranging from being the primary caregiver to their husbands being called upon at all hours of the night and day regardless of family plans. His calendar is filled with preaching engagements and denominational meetings while the wife is left at home.
Sometimes, the husband gets invited to events but his wife isn’t included. For instance, the pastor is expected to stay for the reception at the wedding rehearsal. Where is the wife? She is home with the children or at home alone.
I challenge you ladies to find ways, to include your pastor’s wife in your life. I’m sure she likes to see a good movie, go out to lunch, or get a mani/pedi just as much as you. Surprise her, pick up the tab.
Consider her feelings.
Aquarium lovers must select gravel that won’t get stuck in the fish’s throat. It’s recommended to wash the gravel and soak it in some water for a day to draw out some of the impurities. Fish owners also need to rig up a water filter to remove large particles such as fish waste or excess food.
Your pastor’s wife needs you to put a filter on your mouth. There, I said it! Determine not to be one of those people who carry all the trash to her. She’s not a garbage can.
Be very careful when you vent about her husband’s decisions. Know that her ears work. She can hear you when you gripe about what he does or doesn’t do. She even overhears your comments about her children.
And don’t complain within her earshot hoping that she will carry that information to him. Sorry, that’s not her role.
Matthew 18 tells us the proper way to handle conflict and share the issues that you have with her husband.
Replace that negativity with encouragement. Like fish who need to be feed 1-2 times daily, your pastor’s wife will mature on a proper diet of encouragement.
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. I Thessalonians 5:11
Encourage her with gift cards, and letters. Call her just to say, I noticed what you did and I appreciate that. Brag on her children in her presence. You have no idea how edifying that is. I have a book which holds the encouraging notes and cards that I’ve received from parishioners over the years. When I feel inadequate or unappreciated, I retrieve to that book for a dose of encouragement.
Finally, cooperate to ease her burdens.
If you thought goldfish didn’t sleep, you’d be wrong. Their bodies go into hibernation. They actually like to “sleep” in the dark.
We all need rest, rest from our labor. Jesus told his disciples in Matt 11:29 to take his yoke upon them and learn from him so that they could find rest for their souls. We pastor’s wives need a few good sisters to help carry our load. Just like Moses needed when his hands grew tired and Aaron and Hur held them up for him found in Exodus 17:12.
Have you ever noticed how involved most ministry families are? Stop and make a list of all the things the Pastor and his family does in the church. Step up to the plate ladies and help ease her load.
I’m sure every woman in your church has a fish tank full of big healthy fish. Nevertheless, if you needed a little coaching from the fish’s mouth, I was glad to oblige.
Remember, if you don’t clean the tank periodically, the water will get cloudy,
the glass will become covered with thick white and eventually green stuff.
An excessive amount of algae will grow robbing the environment of necessary oxygen and
God forbid that the Pastor’s wife dies. It could happen.
If she is not covered in prayer, or she never receives that invitation to connect. If her feelings are not considered and there is no cooperation to ease her burdens. Her fish tank will fill up with the algae of loneliness, isolation and negativity. As a result, she will become socially and emotionally unhealthy and may eventually become as inactive as a dead person.
Precious sisters, don’t let that happen. Allow me to paraphrase Hebrews 10:24,” And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works toward, our Pastor’s wife”. You don’t want to find anything floating on top of that water!