Some time ago, a controversy involved Joni and Marcus Lamb. It made many people question so many things about ministry couples and how pastors handle temptation. About a year after the incident, Joni and Marcus Lamb appeared on “Good Morning America” to make a statement about the trouble.
It appears that there’s a chance Joni Lamb may have kept her husband’s mistake hidden for about a year before revealing it. She didn’t disclose it right away.
Needless to say, it felt like the world was laughing at Christians again.
I was a little ashamed.
Then it occurred to me how awesome Joni Lamb is. Being married to a man in such a public setting, her role is akin to that of a senior pastor’s wife. She is the counterpart to a mate who occupies the highest, senior responsibility in a church-like ministry. Don’t you see the similarity?
Ministers’ Wives, Sr. Pastors’ Wives
Although they exist, I won’t make too many distinctions between ministry wives and senior pastors’ wives. They are different in many ways.
For one thing, a husband’s role in full-time ministry is completely different from one in a part-time role. Add to that being the senior church exec, and you have an interesting dynamic.
Being a minister’s wife and a senior pastor’s wife comes with some differences. A minister’s wife typically supports her spouse in various church activities, while a senior pastor’s wife often has more prominent responsibilities and expectations, as her husband holds a higher leadership position. The role of a senior pastor’s wife may involve additional duties like leading women’s groups or representing the church in a more public manner.
Don’t get me wrong, ministers’ wives don’t really have the same type of struggle. They have struggles, just not the same type as the senior pastor’s wife has.
Back to Joni Lamb.
I applaud Joni Lamb because she took the Word to heart in that she didn’t go “public with her husband’s failure” although she may have had a right to do so. She allowed love to cover sins that were really not anyone else’s business.
For what it is worth, I’m so pleased she didn’t make her most intimate betrayal public fodder for the press.
It took great courage and restraint to take charge of the situation and disclose it when she was ready.
That rarely happens.
Most people want to be justified when wronged, and that trumps everything else.
So, we rush to tell folks our problems so we can hear someone say, “Aw, poor you.” Joni could have heard a nation say, “Poor you,” but she took a better road.
She taught us an important lesson. Lord knows I don’t condone what her husband did. I will not stay after an affair. That’s just me; her staying is her business, not ours.
May we all learn to keep our mouths shut … when it is good for the Kingdom.
As a senior pastor’s wife, you, too, are privy to lots of information.
In addition to the myriad of secrets you learn, you also may bear the knowledge (or burden) of your husband’s frail humanity outside the pulpit.
Sometimes, you may have to ‘blow the whistle’ (i.e., in cases of redundant secret sin, theft or anytime others are being hurt or harmed).
But, if no one is harmed except for you (as in Joni’s case), the decision is yours, and the Lord should lead you.
Again, hurtful sins of abuse should never be covered – that’s an entirely different situation than two consenting adults making a bad decision for their marriages.
Let me be clear: I’m advocating for you to keep the simpler struggles of your home, marriage, and family far away from the church and community.
Sharing too much of your personal business can hinder people’s abilities to hear God’s word from your husband when they may need it the most.
I am NOT advocating for staying in a marriage after an affair. I am saying that sharing less is better sometimes.
Remember this: If you are being hurt or mistreated in your marriage, it’s important to speak up. Take a moment to gather your thoughts and then firmly express your concerns. God doesn’t want you to endure abuse or be in a relationship that puts your well-being at risk.
All this to say, be careful spreading your business in the church; instead, pray for confidants (ideally outside your church) to be part of your network.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. Prov. 31:11