Like everybody else, pastors’ wives struggle to control our tongues. Unlike everybody else, our position sometimes gives our words more power for good or ill in the church. James 3:8 makes it clear, “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.” Yet if we want to help rather than hinder our husbands’ ministries, we have to work at training that tiny part that can do so much damage or so much good. We have to learn what to say and what not to say, when to speak and when not to speak, to whom we should speak and to whom we should not. It’s not easy, but we must try.
Here are some ideas on how we can better use our tongues for God’s glory and the building up of His church:
What not to say:
- Gossip. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of sharing that tasty tidbit we heard at the last women’s meeting, but we can’t do it. Gossip wreaks havoc in the church. It kills our husbands’ ministries, especially when we feed it, and it destroys our ability to minister to other women. We must not gossip.
- Confidences. Often church members share information with our husbands that aren’t meant for any other ears. In such cases, we should never press our husbands to tell us what they know. In those times when our husbands are able to share something with us, we must keep it to ourselves.
- Lies. We need to determine from the start that we’ll speak the truth, no matter the consequences to ourselves. Sometimes we might be tempted to hedge the truth to save face. It’s better just to be honest. Or, when asked a question about a matter we’re not free to discuss, it’s better to simply tell our questioner that we can’t talk about that topic.
- Empty words. Sometimes as pastors’ wives, we feel that we have to fill silence in women’s meetings or Bible studies. We don’t. Our empty chatter often wearies others and prevents meaningful conversation. If we don’t have anything worthwhile to say, we should remain silent.
- Unwanted advice. Just because we see something we think needs to be changed, that doesn’t mean we should say anything. If we establish ourselves as quiet, respectable women with opinions worth hearing, others will seek our advice.
- Too much information. We need to be careful not to say things about our husbands or children that they wouldn’t want shared with others. Being the pastor’s family leads to enough “fishbowl” time without us adding to that particular stress.
What to say:
- Encouragement. We need to watch for ways to encourage other women in their walk of faith, being careful not to flatter, but to speak the truth.
- Good words. We should speak words to our husband that build him up and encourage him in his ministry. We should watch for opportunities to give positive feedback and constructive criticism about sermons and studies.
- Correction. It’s our job to train our children in righteousness. We must teach them the truth with our words and actions. When we tell our children that particular consequences will follow an action, we must make sure those consequences do follow that action.
- Admonishment. If we find that words of correction are necessary for a fellow Christian, we must proceed carefully. Only through prayerful, gentle words should we reprimand another.
- Praise. When we consciously use our mouths to sing and speak worship to God, we bring Him pleasure, build up the church, and encourage others in righteousness.