One might think it would be easy for a pastor to love his wife. A pastor preaches on marriage often enough to know how a husband should love his wife, right? Ignorance is certainly not an option.

We also see pastors exhorting couples during wedding ceremonies on how to have a healthy marriage. In fact, this afternoon I am writing these words while still wearing my suit and tie from a wedding ceremony I just conducted. All who were present heard me challenge the new couple to honor God in their marriage. But what about pastors? How should a pastor love his wife? I’ll mention the three things I told the couple today in our wedding ceremony. I think these points are especially relevant for pastors, and I’m guessing you’ll see why once you read them!

This is foundational to any marriage. Whether things are going well or you’re in a tough time, the most fundamental question you need to ask is: Am I worshiping God? You would think this would be easy for a pastor to do. You’re around theological books all day, telling other people how their marriages should go, and preaching sermons on the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. But pastor, how’s your soul? Are you walking with the Lord?

We need to remember that the biggest problem in our marriages will not be our busy ministry schedule, or our circumstances, or even our wife. Our biggest problem in our marriage is our own sin. It is only when you are walking with God that you have something positive to give to your spouse.

The Spirit empowers us to love our wives sacrificially, be kind even when we’re hurt, and be generous with our energy even when we feel drained. Don’t let your soul run on fumes, give everything to your congregation, and have nothing left to give to your wife. Love God with all your heart or else everything about your marriage will eventually crumble.

Surely, as a pastor, you’ve officiated plenty of weddings, but do you remember your own wedding day? And I’m not asking if you remember what kind of flowers decorated the ceremony? (Roses! We had roses. Someone, please tell my wife that I knew that random fact.) And I’m not asking if you remember all the food and the fellowship. Or the order of service in the ceremony. What you ought to remember is this: the most important thing that happened on your wedding day. You made a covenant. You made a covenant promise before God, your wife, and witnesses that you would, by God’s grace, love your wife until death do you part. Feelings of love come and go. Your marriage can’t be fueled by feelings. It can only be sustained when you elevate your covenant to God and each other over your feelings and emotions.

Remember the unbreakable promise you made. As far as I know, you made no covenant or vow when you took over your pastoral position, but you did when you wed your wife. Don’t neglect her. Remember your wedding day.

Just like the other members of your congregation, you need to have people in your life who know what’s going on in your marriage. Walk in the light. Don’t “fake it” with the church and don’t encourage your wife to “just get it together” in public. Be honest about your struggles. Open your hearts up to the people around you. Allow your wife to be a healthy church member and not a woman who is placed on a pedestal for all to stare at. Allow your wife to have healthy friendships in the church without the fear that she’ll expose you for being an imperfect husband and pastor. Together with your wife, enjoy being a part of the church, you shepherd.

In summary: love the Lord with everything you’ve got. Love your wife. And together, with your wife, love the Bride of Christ.