A pastor’s marriage is a very important part of his life and ministry. A pastor should be an excellent Christian example of what it means for a husband to serve, cherish, nourish, and love his wife in a humble, Christ-like way. Samuel Miller (d. 1850) gave some outstanding advice along these lines:
As a clergyman ought to be the most pious man in his parish, to go before all his people in the exemplification of every Christian grace and virtue, so he ought to make a point of being the best husband in his parish; of endeavoring to excel all others in affection, kindness, attention, and every conjugal and domestic virtue.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some clergymen, who preach well on the duties of husbands and wives, are, notwithstanding, austere, harsh, tyrannical, and unkind in their own families. Whenever this is the case, it can seldom fail to be known – and, when known, can never fail to diminish, in some degree, their official influence.
But, I need not say, that your daily and hourly happiness, still more than your reputation, will be involved in this matter. It would be unseasonable here to attempt even the most cursory detail of conjugal duties. Suffice it to say, that if you should not love your wife enough to make the most unceasing attentions and kindness to her delightful ; if you should not have an affection for her so strong as to prompt you to be continually contriving something for her happiness, even at the expense of self-denial and sacrifice on your part; if the feelings of your heart should not spontaneously dispose you to bear with her infirmities, to cover her faults, to comply with all her reasonable wishes, and to respect and honor her in the presence of your family, as well as of strangers – I say, if you should not have a love for your wife which will prompt you, without constraint, to do all this, it will be vain to give you counsels on the subject.
I appreciate how Miller said a pastor should show his wife much affection, attention, and kindness. It’s also good advice for a pastor to continually seek to make his wife happy which means he must practice much self-denial and make sacrifices for her good. And, of course, the pastor must forgive his wife and bear with her faults, knowing that he too has many faults. If a pastor doesn’t love his wife this way, his preaching and teaching on marriage will be done in vain.
The above quote is found in Samuel Miller’s Letters on Clerical Manners and Habits (G&C Carvill: New York, 1827) 410-411.