All who have been in the church for a while have probably seen situations where the preacher’s
family was resentful. It may be a wife who stops coming to various gatherings. It may be children
who grow uncomfortable at being “preacher kids.” It may be siblings or other family members
of the preacher who avoid discussions with him, at least on religious matters, because he seems
to be a “fanatic.”
It is important to remember that Satan is the master “divider,” and he is very skilled at creating
distractions and barriers for those preaching the gospel. One of the most effective means for
stopping gospel preachers is the cultivation of personal and family problems which interfere with
the work. Many a once faithful gospel preacher has been silenced because of family problems,
children becoming unfaithful, or a spouse who has had enough.
The apostle Paul frequently urged Christians to pray for him and his ministry. He commanded
the Colossians to continue steadfastly in prayer, particularly praying for him and his preaching
companions “that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak,” (Col. 4:4). He evidently felt the
temptation to quiet down, to back off on the zeal of his preaching, for he urged the church at
Ephesus to make fervent prayers on his behalf, “that utterance may be given unto me in opening
my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,” (Eph. 6:19). Paul knew that
the prayers of his brethren were essential if he were to keep preaching effectively.
So it is today. We need to be praying for preachers and their families. Preachers’ wives are
subject to a great amount of stress and anguish, especially when they see their husbands
criticized, wrongly accused, or treated with disrespect. These experiences are harder for a
preacher’s wife than for the preacher himself. And over time, they can cause resentment and
bitterness. Preachers’ wives need constant prayer and encouragement. Likewise, children of
preachers are in a challenging position. In addition to the normal tendency of children in their
teenage years to question their parents, preachers’ children are questioning their parents at the
very time they are typically proving or verifying their own faith. If they hear their father
criticized, mocked or disparaged, particularly at a time when they are questioning their own
beliefs, the results can be devastating.
When a young man (or a man of any age) decides to preach, he must understand that if he is
or will be married, this is a partnership commitment. It is not him alone who is deciding to preach.
His decision implicates his wife very deeply. If his wife is not thoroughly behind his decision, it
will present an obstacle often insurmountable. He should consider the mental health and stability
of the woman he would marry. Is she up to this task? He should consider her personality. Is she
a people person? Is she able to be comfortable among strangers or new acquaintances? Can she
make friends with ease? Can she be at ease with travel, and in new situations?
I have known of young men who desperately wanted to preach, but sadly realized that their
wife was incapable. Through no fault of her own, she was simply not equipped emotionally to
be a preacher’s wife. Some women are not able physically to meet the demands of a preacher’s
schedule. Others are not spiritually well grounded, or lack the scriptural comprehension which is
necessary to maintain commitment in preaching.
Preachers should take time off from their preaching responsibilities to spend time with their
wife and their children, which is more easily said than done. I can say from experience it is too
easy to convert family “vacations” into work trips, especially when you are conducting a gospel
meeting. Preachers must get away from sermon preparation and spend quality time with their
wife and children.
Finally, preachers should strive to show their family the glory of preaching. It is not a thing to be
resented. Indeed, preaching is an amazing privilege and life blessing. If done right, the blessings
of preaching can extend to the preacher’s wife and children as well. May God help all preachers
to do it right.
– by Robert C. Veil, Jr.
When The Preacher’s Family Resents Preaching