A New Vicar’s Helpmeet Must be Scrutinized
Updated: Nov 19, 2022
A new vicar’s helpmeet must be scrutinized as much as the vicar who will potentially lead your congregation. To forsake this seemingly small task could be devastating to your church.
Getting to Know the Vicar and His Helpmeet
In a previous article, you were introduced to one of the most dangerous, or helpful, people in ministry: assistant Pastors. I began with introducing several questions you should ask a potential new Vicar.
I encouraged you to ask the correct questions first, and I further provided an example of such. One was inspecting the candidate's marriage, who his wife is, and how involved she will be in the ministry.
You are not out of order doing this!
There is no one more capable of blessing or destroying a ministry short of the Vicar.
The Bible says (Proverbs 21:10-11):
Whether church or parish, you are not simply inviting a new Vicar to lead; you are inviting his wife as well! I can hear doubts already such as: “our church is led by a man and not his wife!”
Sure about that?
I am a Vicar, married, and both have been true for many years. It is with this experience that I say: you are ALWAYS led by a “couple” even though one may not speak often.
Let me be clear: this isn’t to suggest my helpmeet “tells me what to do” and how to lead God’s people. However, and on many issues requiring the wisdom of a Godly woman, she has advised me.
Don’t forget this (Proverbs 12:4):
Put more clearly: wives have more say in church direction than any other person in vicar’s sphere of influence. No, I’m not suggesting the biblical nonsense of husband-and-wife co-pastoring.
That is a lie from the pit of hell.
Let’s look at real world example: was there a sudden change in Vicar’s behavior, or thoughts, on a certain issue? Did he suddenly change how things were done in a ministry?
The wisdom, or "poison", from his helpmeet is often the catalyst for such drastic changes in behavior.
I know a Vicar whose helpmeet was largely responsible for the loss of a few congregations.
The point is, whether you know it or accept it, her fingerprints will be/are all over the direction of the church.
There is No One Vicars Trust More
A vicar’s wife is his most trusted source and if she is not, there is trouble in the home. One of the dynamics of marriage is if either a husband or wife intentionally hurt the other, they are, in fact, hurting themselves.
We entreat Yahweh for both ourselves, and her, and it is through praying together, we learn to trust each other over a number of years.
No matter their protestations to the opposite, Vicars don’t necessarily trust one another, however. There are true friends, in small pockets of ministry, but my experience has shown there is much more mistrust than trust.
Most of these relationships are 'transactional' in nature. If there is ‘no transaction’, there is no relationship. It hurts my heart to admit this, but some I believed brethren and friends in ministry, proved to be anything but.
Where there is rampant distrust among church leaders however, I have no such distrust of my wife and helpmeet!
I don’t trust anybody as much as she, and I am sure many brethren would say the same.
I know her better than I have known anyone else. Over the decades, massive amounts of trust have been developed flowing both ways. To know this, is to understand that even though a new church may contain God’s people, new Vicars neither know nor trust them.
I point this out because such trust is a beautiful thing. However, it can also be unhealthy when marital cohesion is lost.
Church leaders go through marital issues like anyone else. The difference, well most of the time anyway, is we understand the “eternal stakes” of every decision we make. This means most of us are prayerful how we handle issues.
If there is a problem in the home, there’s a problem in your church. A wife who doesn’t support her husband and Vicar’s ministry knows something you don’t! Further, when there is an issue in church, it can bleed back into the home through her.
In all ways and places, our helpmeets are the proverbial ‘canary in the coal mine’.
When we have issues personally, they are our measuring stick how we handle them.
I can only imagine how hard it would be for these Godly women to sit week after week, and watch something preached that is not lived at home.
This points out something quite serious - a search committees focus on educational transcripts, experience, etc. rather than a leader’s home and helpmeet is inviting devastation.
Did The Vicar and Their Dean/Pastor Get Along?
There is another critical relationship which may be directly indicative of who the new leader is. This relationship is that of he and his former/current leader.
Whether you call this person a Dean, Archdeacon, or Bishop/Pastor is irrelevant.
If the Vicar, for instance, has had multiple assignments over the last five (5) to ten (10) years, you should move on from him - there is a problem.
Church leaders who “bounce around” have either hurt someone, been hurt, and prone to this vicious cycle all over again with your church.
Sure, they will couch their transitory journey in language of biblical import such as “evangelism”, but they are being deceitful.
However, if that person has a secular job which moved them from city to city, or other such factors, you should consider those as well.
For instance, a man who moved home to take care of his parents, having inconvenienced he and his helpmeet, can be a blessing to your congregation.
You should have a conversation with past congregants if possible.
If a Dean, Bishop, or higher-ups has moved this person multiple times, they may not, more likely won't, be truthful about why.
No serious candidate would object to reference checks (character) checks. If they do, move on because they are hiding something.
Nevertheless, no matter how awesome a Vicar was in their previous assignment however, there are some who will speak foul of him.
They hate Jesus so they hate him as well. Learn to filter what you are fed.
We can’t forget Jesus Word(s) on the matter:
Get an Objective Reference on Vicar and Wife
Here is something else to consider: are the references you receive true?
Christians like to believe that if they speak with whomever is responsible for “character references”, they are being told truth. You will not always be told truth about either the new Vicar or his wife!
What if, just like in corporate jobs, the Vicar and/or helpmeet are “headaches” someone wants to get rid of?
Unfortunately, some Vicars and/or wives are so hellish, chaotic, and out of control, their church may do anything to get rid of them including lie.
Further, churches are sometimes split into factions over couples who lead them. Some loving the Vicar yet despising a helpmeet or vice versa.
I know a congregation who adores the Vicar yet complains about his helpmeet.
What is interesting is both he and she, is they are as “crooked” as the day is long! I don’t understand how one chooses between an Anaconda and Boa Constrictor.
You must, under no circumstances, refuse to get to know the Vicar’s wife personally and quickly. It is no understatement to say that those who refuse to understand these women are begging to be discouraged in ways they cannot imagine.
When She Doesn’t Come to Service
When a Vicar’s Helpmeet doesn’t come to service often, there are serious problems you should investigate. As was pointed out earlier, you are getting a “team” and not merely two individuals.
They are literally, in the Spirit, tied together (Mark 10:6-9):
Here is how the game/selection goes for church’s who select their Vicar/Pastor. First, the pastoral candidates present themselves for interviews.
The “courting” doesn’t get serious until the final three (3) candidates are identified. Every tool, trick, and obfuscation then comes into play for candidates to become your leader. For instance, if the Pastor (candidate) has local, or even state level friends familiar with the church, it will be leveraged.
Wait a minute: you really believed God was in total control of the whole process, right? I guess it was God who privately called selection committee members and lobbied for their “friend”, right?
When a selection is made, perhaps a “trial” sermon is preached, and this is when his helpmeet makes her appearance. The process may vary from church to church, however.
Be wary and understand, especially if they have been “driven out” of another congregation, she will be on her most religious (best) behavior.
Just like any other job interview, her position is to play to “proto-typical” role and not mess it up for her husband.
Here is what is most crucial: pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal who both truly are!
As a Vicar, I cannot stress the importance of this decision and your level of seriousness. Do not be misled by smiles and religious pretense.
This is an eternal decision which must be taken with the utmost seriousness.
Shortly after landing the job, this is when the real person will appear. It is of the most serious of problems if the preacher’s wife stops attending service shortly after you hire him!
Further, if she/he (or they) are constantly late in fulfilling their obligations, the are more severe character issues.
This seeming non-threatening behavior is they are neither taking God seriously nor their assignment!
Further, this disregard is both unloving and disrespectful. If either she or he works a job outside the church, they are not constantly tardy. What does that say about their faith if the world is more important than the church?
Embrace Her Quirks and Allow Her Gifting
There is, and is most often true, another kind of Vicar’s Helpmeet. This sister is exactly who she appears to be: a daughter of the Most High God!
Too often, these gifted women are over-looked for their bad behaving counterparts mentioned for most of this article. However, those who are most anointed are marginalized because of an unbiblical belief about a “woman’s place” in ministry.
Let me make the Biblical position clear: God’s Word doesn’t support a woman Pastoring a church!
Sisters: I don’t care what you believe God told you, His Word in 1st Timothy 3 says something different. Even prior, His Word in Genesis 3, post-fall, lays down a theological predicate that not one of you can explain away.
Should our sisters “preach” the Gospel? YES! But here is where the confusion arises: these women confuse being called as a “Prophet”, with the office of “Shepherd.”
The Ephesians 4 church governance and gifting model makes room for God’s Daughters – just not in a way they suggest.
Check this out (Ephesians 4:11-12):
There are women Prophets in the biblical narrative but not one (1) female Pastor mentioned. The offices of Prophet and Pastor are different, and one is not greater than the other.
Why bring this forward?
You must embrace the gifting of your Vicar’s wife but understand its biblical limitations. Truthfully, the Bible limits all our giftings in one way or another.
You must be wary because so many couples sneak into church’s pretending to be a Pastor/wife team but are really under-cover ‘co-Pastors.’
She does, however, have other gifting which can bless the church if God’s people would only stop muzzling them. She is so much more than a “pew trophy” who sits and looks like an extension of the pew she inhabits week after week.
Ask the question about your new or potential Vicar’s helpmeet early. It is also wise to forbid any thoughts of co-Pastoring and in writing if necessary. As your church moves forward in the Will of God, please be prayerful about avoiding any unnecessary struggles with either your new preacher or his wife.
I wrote this article because it is more crucial to make a “God Choice” than you realize. Further, there are dangers you cannot imagine lurking in every potential new leader.
You must, in all ways, submit to the Lord. As His Word reminds us: “He knows the plans He has for you to prosper you and not harm you.”
There is another plan, by the evil one as well: “The devil comes but to kill, steal, and destroy.”
The choice of your church’s future is up to you.
Header Image Courtesy of Mikhail Nilov @ Pexels