Yesterday we began discussing how “standing by your man” can be unbelievably difficult. Even Tammy Wynette knew it back in 1968. However, as her famous lyrics stated, you can indeed “show the world you love him . . . keep giving all the love you can . . . stand by your man.”
No matter your husband’s career choice in the community, he has an invisible bulls-eye on his back.
Is the ministry different? Although Christians often feel that if only they could be leaders in the religious community, their lives would be smoother, sadly that is rarely the case. Even missionaries suffer attacks from their peers.
Wendy realized that she and her husband’s roles as foreign missionaries would be extremely demanding. They committed to it nonetheless, knowing that God had called them to their post. However, when she saw her husband under attack, Wendy became very defensive and controlling.
She has since had more training and experience, and is more mature. She believes she would react differently now, holding her tongue and being her husband’s strength behind the scenes.
Charlotte’s husband entered the clergy over 30 years ago. She has learned the power of prayer and public support. (Remember, Tammy sang that we should show the world we love him.)
During one especially difficult attack while working toward building a new church building, Charlotte’s husband’s authority and spiritual calling came into question and several board members called for his resignation. One lone board member challenged the others as to whether or not they had prayed about the situation. The unhappy board members eventually went to other churches, and Charlotte’s husband remained faithful to what he believed God had called him to do. The rewards of his faithfulness were several wonderful families being ready to step out in faith and trust God to help complete the new building.
Amy’s husband also serves in the pulpit. The previous leader had remained in the church and had mixed emotions about the transition. Amy’s husband became the target of his predecessor’s hurt and anger. Amy became defensive, adding to the stress. However, denying her flesh, she tried to be supportive and encouraging. She listened and was empathetic. She didn’t push him to talk and, not wanting to be divisive, they shared their hurt with only a couple key leaders in the church.
For some the attacks are passing, but for others the hurts run so deep that it takes years to move beyond the pain. People they counted among their closest friends betrayed Deborah and her husband. Exposed confidences damaged their relationships with others and hurt them deeply. Being driven to their knees, searching Scripture together and being one another’s biggest cheerleaders kept them strong throughout their trial.
When dealing with attacks, these women agree on several things. They agree that what you tell your children depends on their ages. They will surely sense tension in the home, and not saying anything will add to their stress. However, details, names and your inner feelings are best kept between adults.
They also agree that meeting your husband’s basic needs during attacks helps him on many levels. Keeping him well fed and sexually satisfied does miracles for the spirit, soul, and body. (Tammy reminded us of that in her song as she said to keep giving all the love we can.)
Remember too that we can be our best for everyone if we have a regular exercise routine of our own. Keep those endorphins flowing!
Getting out of the house and getting our minds off the problem is a healthy diversion. These women have found that talking about the trial is important, to a point. There comes a point when our husbands will want to stop talking about it. That’s when our self-control really kicks in because we may want to “work it out” through conversation. Realizing that God is in control, not us, should help us let it go.
All of these veteran leaders’ wives agree on one important issue—prayer is invaluable, not just during adversity but during the good times, as well. Praying for and with our husband is huge. It will bring us peace, protection, and power. Reading the Scriptures alone and together gives us strength, stamina to endure, and satisfaction knowing that God is in control.
When asked if, given the choice, they would choose leadership for their husbands or not, all agreed that when a man is called to a leadership position, it is because he is qualified, gifted and excellent in his field. Not being selfish, they would never stand in the way of their husbands helping others in their roles.
Situations, faces, and names may change, but the attacks continue. Leaders are the targets when anything goes wrong. Ultimately, they are responsible. After they take the abuse from board members, co-workers, or subordinates, they come home to us, their wives. It’s our job to take the invisible arrows out of their backs. Our choice of how to act or react will have a lasting impact on our marriage and family.
As we grow older, we tend to “wise up” to the reaction thing. It’s never pleasant to watch our husbands suffer an attack. It’s natural to want to strike out or jump to his defense. Exercising self-control in these situations will make a huge difference to all those around us.
Their best advice to new wives of leaders is to pray for him, support him and his decisions, accept that he will go through difficult times, remain committed and compassionate, keep communicating, understand that leadership can take time away from family, maintain strict confidentiality, and be sure of your own calling—know who you are in Christ. It isn’t just our husbands who are called into leadership; we are also called.
We must know who we are, take care of ourselves, be patient and show discernment. Most importantly, we must remember Tammy’s advice, “Stand by your man and show the world you love him. Keep givin’ all the love you can. Stand by your ma-a-n!”