The role of the pastor’s spouse in influencing health and wellness in the congregation, Part Two

Posted Jun 30, 2014 | Academy of Preaching and Celebration


By Joyce Thomas

Joyce ThomasPastors’ spouses really do have their own level of influence that is an attraction to many church members. Sometimes their influence is something that even they don’t understand, except that people often tell them how much they appreciate the way they carry themselves or do certain things. I remember when my husband demonstrated a level of excitement after a sermon that neither I nor the congregation had seen in him before. He was bent over for a long time, and I did not know what was happening. I decided to go up into the pulpit area to see what was going on. When I discovered that he was filled with the Holy Spirit, I returned to my seat. After the service was over, many congregants came to me and said they wished they could have been as calm as I was in going into the pulpit. It was not a big deal for me, but for others it was. That incident was talked about in the congregation for a long time, and many members said they admired my calmness and courage to walk into the pulpit. There were some that said to me that they watched me and everything that I did and they were learning from me how to remain calm. I believe this same dynamic is operative with a healthy lifestyle. As others watch and emulate what they see in the pastor’s spouse, the spouse develops a realm of influence that can benefit many.

I know that it seems like a lot of pressure to be on display (and it is pressure). However, as God would have it, pastors’ spouses have been called to this position of helpmate with their clergy spouses. They will have many opportunities to let their light shine before the people that will influence who they will become or how they will live their Christian life in this world. Their participation as the spouse of the pastor will be very critical to the success of what the pastor is trying to convey to the congregation. Pastors’ spouses know that they have a level of wisdom and influence that can change the lives of the people they minister to in their partnership with the pastor.

I believe that the Faith and Health Initiative was absolutely correct about the level of influence that the pastor has on church members. The church is the place that many people find direction for the many challenges they face daily, and it is the clergy and the spouse together that often shape and inform the congregation about how to live a healthy lifestyle. Though the initiative used the pastor as the example, I really believe they really meant to include the spouse. I want pastors’ spouses to know and understand that their role in the church, as they choose to participate, includes modeling a life that is influential and pleasing to God, including health and wellness. They, too, have the influence to change the old habits of people in the church into good, solid, new habits that will be healthy and beneficial.

Dr. Joyce Scott Thomas is the Associate Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration.

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