I love Biblical stories and the book of Esther never disappoints. Looking for some practical insights in how ministry or leadership couples can work together to have a strong and powerful marriage? Look no further than the book of Esther. The story begins with King Xerxes and Queen Vashti who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. Obviously they were very wealthy and while staying at their vacation home in Susa the King threw a huge banquet inviting very important people such as princes, military officers and government officials.
He spared no expense and for a full 180 days (6 months) he entertained the guests. The decorations are described as exquisite and there was plenty to eat and the bar never closed. Entertaining was part of his job as King, but did it have to go on for 6 months? Can you imagine having a six month celebration?
If that wasn’t enough after the 6 month banquet he had another banquet and invited anyone and everyone. This time the festivities lasted seven days. Once again he spared no expense in the way of food and drink. King Xerxes entertained the men in the courtyard while the queen accommodated the women inside the royal palace.
Sometimes when my husband and I entertain the men will gather in one dining room while the women gather closer to the kitchen areas. When we entertain, I may breeze through the area to check on the men and usually they are talking about sports or politics.
Who knows what the King and the fellas were talking about when the King decides he wants to show off his beautiful wife wearing her royal crown. Rather than stepping away from the boys to go and get her himself, he sent seven servants to tell his wife to come. Why didn’t he go and seek her out himself? After all they had been apart for seven days. Where is the love?
We know the story, Queen Vashti sent the servants back to tell him she wasn’t coming. Who knows why she didn’t want to go, but if I were in her shoes I would not want to go in a room full of men who had been drinking for seven days. Besides I would have been tired from entertaining and would have wanted some time with my husband alone. When my husband and I entertain, we at least meet up at the kitchen sink to discuss how things are going or to discuss the schedule including what time the guests are going to leave.
Yes, Queen Vashti probably knew entertaining and being obedient came with the territory, but she decided to take a stand which made the King furious. I think he was more embarrassed than angry and since the servants informed him of her disobedience publicly, he had to redeem himself. He asked his legal consultants what he should do about it. He should have sensed that something was going on with his wife and went to check on her. Where is the love?
His legal consultants were fearful of the rest of the women following suit so they recommended that the King do something about his independent rebellious wife. They convinced him that if he didn’t put her in her place all the other wives in the kingdom would start acting just like her. The men didn’t want their wives to have a voice. Where is the love?
Vashti’s punishment for being disobedient to her husband was severe. The men recommended that she be kicked out of the castle with an immediate divorce and never be allowed to see him again. Seeing her again and speaking with her may have softened him so they made it a law that she could never see him again. How did he let his advisers decide he would never again speak to the woman who was so beautiful a few minutes ago? Where is the love?
Even though we know all of this happened so that Esther would eventually become Queen, there are several lessons to be learned from this story.
1. Don’t become so busy as a leadership couple trying to please everyone that you neglect one another. When duty calls for extended time period, take a moment to check in with one another for mutual support.
2. Don’t send someone else to communicate for you. It is not the job of your assistant or employee to communicate with your spouse on your behalf. Take the time to talk with one another and let the other know what your needs are.
3. Don’t let others decide the fate of your marriage. Talk to one another rather than complaining to someone else. Someone else’s advice may not be the best for your marriage. Talk to your spouse and work it out.
4. Lastly as leaders we should be setting the example, but use your marriage to set the positive example. The bible says in Ephesians 5 that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and that wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
If we simply follow these suggestions we won’t have to ask the question… Where is the love?
I have been spending a lot of time in the Bible studying the book of Esther because there are so many lessons that can be learned about being married to a man that has a lot of responsibilities. What fascinates me most is that when Queen Esther wants to spend time with her husband, she has to go through special procedures just to speak with him.
According to the story, King Xerxes loved Esther and chose her to become Queen and gave a banquet in her honor after they married. However even though she had favor with him she still could not just go in and talk with him or spend time with him unless she was summoned by him. There was no special concession for her as a wife as she was put in the same category as every other man and woman in the kingdom. To make matters even more challenging, asking to speak to her husband actually put her life at risk. If the king did not want to be bothered and did not extend his gold scepter to her, she could be put to death.
As the story unfolds, Esther had a major emergency and it was important that she speak with her husband. She was so concerned about requesting to speak with him that she asked her relatives, her townsfolk and her servants to declare a fast for three days along with her. On the third day, she was ready to do what she needed to do to save the lives of not only herself but also her people. We know the rest of the story, the king allowed her to approach on more than one occasion and the story has a wonderful ending.
Can you imagine having to go through special procedures to speak with or spend time with your husband? If I was Esther I would have felt alone, unworthy and maybe even unloved if I had to go through all those hoops to speak with the man I was to spend the rest of my life with. The riches and the extra perks wouldn’t have meant very much if I had to ask permission to see him or wait until he had the time to spend with me.
I’m sure the king had a busy schedule fulfilling his responsibilities as king, and Esther probably understood that better than anyone. But knowing he was responsible for so many others probably didn’t make it any easier on her when she found herself feeling like he was married to the kingdom instead of her.
The life of a king reminds me of the life of a pastor. My husband who has been pastoring for 28 years keeps a very demanding schedule serving our church and our community. He is on call 24/7 and there is always someone in the hospital, people die, families have issues, individuals get into legal trouble, people need prayer and then there are plenty of church activities going on several days a week. Add in his community activities and there is always a meeting to go to.
The busy lives of pastor’s make can make it extremely difficult for the pastor and his wife to spend some quality time together. Add my husband’s schedule to mine and it’s a miracle that we even see each other. It was supposed to be easier on our schedules when we became empty nesters, but our schedules are just as hectic.
In order for us to make our marriage a priority despite all of the responsibilities we have, we decided to come up with a plan. In addition to our regular prayer time together before leaving for work, we made Friday’s our date night and scheduled a walk around the lake on Sunday evenings, weather permitting. Now that are children are grown we actually get up in the morning and go to the gym together before I go to work, eat dinner together and try to go to bed at the same time.
Even with our scheduled time together I sometimes don’t feel like it is enough. In those situations, I came up with a solution to ask my husband, “Can I have an appointment?” What I am really saying is, “Husband I am feeling neglected, can we spend some time together? However asking for an appointment sounds so much better than demanding time, whining or saying the dreaded statement, “We need to talk.”
As I write this blog, we have had an incredibly busy week. During this month my husband is celebrating 28 years of pastoring and our church has an exciting day planned for us. I am excited because we have an opportunity to sit together while we enjoy the worship service. However, as soon as we leave the church after all of the festivities, I think I’m going to ask for an appointment!
Clergy Appreciation Day is celebrated the second Sunday in October which is October 8th. Don’t forget to celebrate those who serve in the ministry as well as their families. Pastors are vital to our families, churches and our communities and should be celebrated for all they do. Scriptures supports honoring clergy “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17 ESV).
Churches celebrate their pastor’s and clergy in various ways. Some churches go all out and have a special event for their spiritual leader while others celebrate during the pastor’s work anniversary month. Regardless of what your church does, you can celebrate clergy in your life by showing your appreciation in various ways. Showing up for church and really hearing the sermon he/she has toiled over is a start.
In some cases the day is celebrated by honoring not only the pastor but also his/her family, particularly the spouse. They are the ones who help the pastor to manage a demanding schedule including being on call 24/7. Spouses and children have had to take a back seat when the church needs the pastor. I know firsthand being the wife of a senior pastor.
Our church celebrates my husband’s work anniversary every year and it just so happens to fall in the month of October. This year he is celebrating 28 years as the senior pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Olathe. Each year, speakers are selected to say kind words about he and I and we are blessed with wonderful gifts. We are busy getting ready for the festivities.
I think what I enjoy most about the festivities is the opportunity to sit with my husband. Sitting together is a rare event since he is always in the pulpit. What I also appreciate is that I have a moment at the end of the program where I get to thank my husband for being a wonderful pastor and husband. He also makes sure to acknowledge my contribution to his ministry and publicly shows appreciation to me. I am thankful I have a grateful, caring husband who speaks loving words about me and to me all the time both at home and at church.
In a article by author Thom Rainer, pastor’s wives have complained that their husband does not give them priority. Wives have murmured that their husband’s energy is focused so much on the church that they feel like a mistress to their husband. When I read those words my heart was saddened because pastor’s wives deserve so much more including a fulfilling marriage.
I recently ran across an article about Lionel Richie and why he wrote the top selling hit “Three Times a Lady”. According to the article, the idea came from his father. One day as his family was eating a meal together, his father gave a toast to their mother and it wasn’t even her birthday or Mother’s Day. In his toast he saluted her for being a great lady, a great mother and a great friend. The kids thought he was nuts, but I’m sure Mrs. Richie cherished that moment and the song forever.
As a pastor if you have been guilty of not giving your wife priority, why not take advantage of clergy appreciation day to show your wife some love? Take the time to tell her she is important to you and you appreciate all that she does. Don’t stop there, make sure she knows how much you love her and need her. To all pastors and wives, Happy Clergy Appreciation Day and here’s to the First Lady!
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach