How Much Should a Pastor or Elder Tell His Wife?

What should an elder or pastor share with his wife about issue or people in the church? My guess is that previous generations of elders/pastors probably shared too little with their wives. Again, it is only a guess, but I would submit that in our day and age many pastors and elders share too much.

How should a pastor or elder decide what to share with his wife? Naturally, we desire to let our spouses know the struggles we are facing, the issues at hand, and the thoughts occupying our minds. We long for their counsel and wisdom. A pastor or elder who forsakes the counsel of his wife is a fool. Yet, this does not mean that we share everything with our wives regarding the ministries God has entrusted to us. The responsibility does not belong to them and neither does the burden. Additionally, most congregants do not assume anything they relay to their pastor or elder will be conveyed to their spouse. A congregation’s trust in their leadership easily diminishes when unnecessary talk pervades. Once trust lapses, the ability to shepherd follows suit.

After years of mistakes, I now think through three questions before sharing any information about issues or people in the church with my wife.

First, will sharing this disrupt my wife’s worship? Will it lead her to think poorly of someone in the leadership of the church, on the Sunday platform, or another member of the congregation. Will this information cloud her view of the church and dominate her mind on Sundays? In effect, will it distract her in the midst of corporate worship? I am the shepherd of my wife as well. This must never be forgotten. I am charged with caring for her soul and want to see her enjoying the full blessings of worship. Therefore, I balk at disclosing any information that could possibly disrupt her participation in worship on Sunday mornings.

Second, will sharing this with my wife disrupt her fellowship with others in the church? This requires knowing our wives. Some handle certain things better than others. For example, a wife who struggles with judging others would be privy to less information, a wife who has been abused in the past might not be able to handle knowing about an abuser in the church, a wife who struggles with trust probably shouldn’t be aware of the individual who has just been rebuked for lying, etc. I hesitate to share anything with my wife that will cause her to look out the corner of her eye towards someone else in the congregation. If she encounters an individual at church and the difficult thing about them is the first thing that runs through her mind, then it probably wasn’t wise to share it. The cost was not worth the benefit. If I am able, I want to prevent this occurrence before it happens.

Third, will sharing this information with my wife be beneficial? Does it actually accomplish something good? We naturally want to tell our wives things. That is good and right. They are our helpmate, our chief advisor, and a great source of wisdom (my wife is incredibly wise!). However, they were not elected by the congregation to serve as their shepherd, they were not appointed by God to the office, and the burden is not our wife’s to carry. If I am honest, more often than not, the reason I want to share pastoral information with her is because I desire the comfort of someone else knowing what I am wrestling with—someone close to me. But that proves to be an insufficient reason. Does sharing this information with my wife actually benefit the Kingdom and this situation? If not, time and again it proves better not to share it.

Dear pastor or elder, your congregants need to know that you don’t share everything with your wife. Trust can quickly disappear otherwise; and, your wives need to be protected from carrying unnecessary burdens. We are shepherds of the church--and of our spouses. Let us be wise in fulfilling our callings and responsibilites. Ask yourself a few questions before you run home from that counseling appointment or elder meeting. In the long run, your congregation will thank you, as well as your wife.

Jason Helopoulos