Exhaustion doesn’t always look like physical fatigue. It often masquerades as emotional weariness, sleeplessness, discouragement, or anger. My pastor-husband seems to lose his hearing when our four teenagers are all in the room together. His mind is somewhere else, inhabiting another world. The repetitive, “Dad, Dad?” is often followed by me gently touching his arm and saying, “Honey, the kids are talking to you.” Other times he’s so drained he can only crawl into bed for yet another night of restless sleep.
The last two years have rocked everybody’s world, and ministry workers are no exception. COVID outbreaks, racial unrest, and political strife have brought an obscene amount of chaos to an already chaotic world. We’ve certainly come to better recognize the illusion of control that plagues us all.
While many were suddenly quarantined at home at the beginning of the pandemic, pastoral job responsibilities multiplied. What started as a few sheep struggling seemed to morph into all the sheep struggling. Job instability, mental illness, relational fractures, financial insecurity, and lack of human contact for many homebound and immunocompromised church members raised the level of required pastoral care. Church unity has been disrupted and more than a few words of “correction” have been sent to pastors. Not to mention the members MIA or pastors beat down by the normal course of trials unrelated to the pandemic.
Pastors’ wives watch the husbands we love become overwhelmed with struggles. We wonder if it’s a stage that will pass. But for many of us, weeks have turned into months, even years.
Let me offer four suggestions to combat your own discouragement and “partner fatigue” while ministering to your weary pastor-husband.
1. Immerse Yourself in Truth
When the exhaustion of life surrounds us, we need Scripture to reorient our hearts and minds so that we might walk in wisdom. Speak God’s words to your husband. Each of our situations is unique; there’s no magic formula to immediately fix everything. But the Bible is perfect wisdom, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12). It holds everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).
Pick up your Bible to read before you pick up your phone to scroll or to text for help.
Put verses on sticky notes; write them on mirrors or chalkboards at home. Surround yourself with truth. Yes, you ought to seek the counsel and prayers of friends, but do not neglect God’s Word. Pick up your Bible to read before you pick up your phone to scroll or to text for help.
2. Remember the Resurrection
Present circumstances testify, sometimes painfully, that we’re not home yet. But because Jesus lives, our future is secure. Fix your mind on things above, sister, not on the things of this world. When you feel like packing it in and telling your husband to find a new job, remember that this won’t go on forever. As Paul told the local church at Corinth, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19). The resurrection is essential for the fight of faith.
3. Mimic the Psalmist
Pour your heart out to your heavenly Father. Don’t know where to begin? Open the book of Psalms and pray your way through. The Psalter is a handbook for the weary. Psalm 5:3 is a favorite verse I often pray: “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you and watch expectantly” (CSB).
Pray for your husband. Others may pray for him, but you know him best. Bring those requests before a God who sees, knows, and loves him even more than you do, sister. God uses our prayers as his ordained means of deliverance. Don’t underestimate how the Lord can use your prayers!
4. Hold Still
Waiting is the disposition of the Christian life. Over and over again, Scriptures summons us to “wait.” Waiting builds trust. God hasn’t forgotten or abandoned you. He knows the situation you face better than you do since he’s outside time and sees it all. He knows every single detail.
Your husband doesn’t need you to rescue him. He needs you to love him and pray for him. You aren’t his savior—Jesus is. And Jesus is in the business of sanctification, promising to complete the work he’s begun in you and your tired pastor-husband (Phil. 1:6). Are you tired of trying to hold it all together yourself? Let Jesus’s words comfort and rebuke you as they did the wind and waves: “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39).
Your husband doesn’t need you to rescue him. He needs you to love him and pray for him. You aren’t his savior.
Sister, don’t let the Deceiver convince you that you’re alone. The Lord Jesus is the friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). He is a strong tower; the righteous run to him and are safe (Prov. 18:10). That’s a promise to any pastor burning the candle at both ends, trying to keep his own head above water while helping those under his care do the same. It’s a promise for the pastor’s wife, too. God is faithful to his promises. He is safety. He is rest. Will you run to him today on behalf of your tired pastor-husband and yourself? His burden is easy and his yoke is light (Matt. 11:28–30).