Several years ago I heard Claudia Barba speak at a ladies’ conference at a nearby town. Her husband had been a church planter and an evangelist and currently has a ministry helping church planters get their churches established. He had spoken at a missions conference at our church a few years earlier and his family was there: I may have met Claudia then, but I didn’t know she spoke to ladies groups and I didn’t know she was the sister of a college friend, who was the pastor’s wife at this church. You know how some people can speak and convict you and you feel like you’ve been beaten up, and others can speak and convict you and leave you feeling hopeful and encouraged and looking forward to what the Lord can do in and through you. Claudia is the latter kind of speaker. Her talks were practical and convicting and went right to the root of my selfishness, but they were tremendously encouraging as well. At that time she mentioned an e-mail list she had started called “Monday Morning Club.” It was primarily for minister’s wives, but was open to everyone, so I subscribed. I’ve been enjoying Claudia’s Word-based instruction and encouragement ever since. Later our own ladies group was blessed to have Claudia as a speaker at our spring Ladies’ Luncheon.
This particular “Monday Morning Club” e-mail has spoken to my heart again and again. Even though my husband is not a pastor, every Christian is a minister of the gospel in some way, and I found much to convict and inspire in this piece. I don’t know what brought it to mind again, but when I thought of it this morning I e-mailed Claudia to ask permission to publish it here, and she graciously gave it.
If you would be interested in receiving Claudia’s Monday Morning Club e-mails, you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Barba’s web site is Press On! Ministries.
His Dear Wife
by Claudia Barba
It happened again recently. Sitting in church, I heard the pastor welcome us to the service: Dave Barba and his “dear wife.” I think that pastors use that phrase as a graceful way to introduce me when they have forgotten my name. But it always makes me want to laugh as I imagine my husband as a majestic buck in the deep woods, and me as the docile doe by his side. My son (Bambi, I guess) added to my amusement years ago when, during a similar introduction, he grinned at me and formed antlers with his fingers on his head.
This time, after my invisible (I hope) laughter, I began to think about that word—“dear.” It was okay to daydream; none of the pastor’s announcements applied to me.
“Dear” people are precious—beloved, highly esteemed, valuable, cherished, and treasured. I like to believe that that is how my husband thinks of me. But “dear” also has another definition, and I am sadly aware that sometimes that meaning can apply to me as well. “Dear” can mean expensive. A wife can be precious to her husband, or she can be costly to him.
On a literal plane, I can be a drain on his budget or a plug for it. When money is scarce, I have to make every dollar stretch a mile. I can do it cheerfully and creatively, or I can do it grudgingly. One attitude makes me precious to him; the other makes me just another burden—his doe spending his dough.
When he preaches, I can be his silent cheerleader. I can stay awake. I can nod and smile at him from the pew, listen and take notes. I can thank him for praying and preparing, and tell him how the Lord has used his sermons to help me. That makes me precious. On the other hand, criticizing or ignoring his preaching costs him dearly, for it damages his confidence in the pulpit.
When enemies attack our ministry, I can crumple, weep, and blame him for my pain. After all, if he would just be perfect like me and please everybody all the time, no one would criticize and life would be bliss! Or I can bravely and tearlessly remind him in our most painful times that the Lord is the One Whose approval we need. Pleasing everybody else, all the time, is impossible.
If he has worked hard for few visible results, I can “dearly” remind him of the laws of sowing and reaping. I can point him to the future, when God will reward his labor. Or I can drain his spirit by questioning if the ministry is really worth all the work.
When he gets discouraged, I can find ways to lift his heart: a picnic in the park or a love letter slipped into his briefcase. I can pass along compliments from others and promises from the Lord. I can be steady, patient, prayerful, and dear until he’s himself again. I can be his ladder for climbing out of the pit. Or I can jump in with him and then expect him to lift me out.
I can praise his leadership at home and his skill working with people. I can honor the hidden character and steadfastness that I know better than anyone else. I can point out the good I see in him. How precious it is for a man to know that his wife admires him! Or I can take the good for granted and focus on his flaws—costing his self-image dearly.
Someday (long before your funeral, I hope), your husband may say that you are a woman with a price “far above rubies.” That can be true because of your incredible value to him, or because of what it costs him to keep you around. I want to be precious, not expensive—don’t you?