A Day for Pastors and Wives: Nancy Guthrie Interviews Kent and Barbara Hughes

February 09, 2016

by Kent Hughes

The following is an interview of Kent and Barbara Hughes conducted by Nancy Guthrie in expectation of the Day for Pastors and Wives event at Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN.

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“I was a very angry man. The focus of my resentment was God himself, the one who had called me to this. I had given everything—all my time, all my education, years of ministry and true Christian devotion—and now I was failing. . . . I wanted out.”

Kent Hughes

Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome

Kent and Barbara Hughes know what it’s like to give a lifetime to the ministry of the church. They have known deep discouragement in church ministry. But they have also experienced great joy and satisfaction over their many years as a ministry couple. They have served in numerous churches, including 37 years at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. They are also known for their numerous books including the Preaching the Word Commentary series published by Crossway for which Kent has served as General Editor.

Nashville supporters of Westminster Theological Seminary have invited Kent and Barbara Hughes to spend a day with Nashville-area pastors and their wives on March 4, 2016. If you serve in any capacity on a pastoral staff or are the spouse of someone on a pastoral staff, we hope you will set aside this day to spend together under the wise and caring mentorship of Kent and Barbara. This will be a deeply encouraging and restful day for pastors and their wives to step back from the daily demands of ministry to hear what Kent and Barbara have learned about what makes a truly “successful” ministry. The day will include hearing Kent and Barbara’s story, time for Q&A, as well a time for husbands with Kent, and wives with Barbara.

Nancy: As you interact with pastors around the country today, what are the most significant pressures they face?

Kent: When I was a young pastor, the pressure came from the church growth movement, which sought to apply business principles to the church. But today, the pressures are more a matter of style—the pressure to understand the culture and preach sermons to people’s felt needs. The pressure on pastors to be cool in the way they dress, style their hair, and the people they quote is so overwhelming.

Nancy: What kinds of things do you find pastor’s wives struggle with?

Barbara: They see and feel the discouragement in their husbands when his preaching is not as good as he wants it to be, and the numbers of people coming are not as big as he hoped they would be. In my time with wives, we talk about what wives can do to encourage their husbands. We also talk about how wives can stay engaged in ministry with their husbands when it is such a temptation to withdraw and let the church be his thing. And, of course, money is always an issue.

Nancy: What kinds of questions do you usually get from pastors?

Kent: They want to know how to become a better preacher. That’s what people see and that’s how they’re evaluated week-by-week. They’re often so fearful of failure. And they’re concerned about their families, wondering if they can really do all the ministry requires and still have a healthy family.

Barbara: Our wounds and sadnesses in ministry usually come from people. If our kids think the church is hurting their parents, they’re not going to like the church. So we have some things to share from our own experience about how to protect our children from resentment.

Nancy: What can pastors and wives who come to the day with you and Barbara expect?

Kent: They’ll hear us bear our hearts about our own struggles and what we’ve taken hold of—not just to survive but thrive through nearly fifty years of ministry. At 73 and 72, we’re kind of like a grandma and grandpa, and we love these days with ministry couples where we can be real with each other about how ministry life can be leveraged for a wonderful family life.

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When: March 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30. Lunch will be served.

Where: Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN.

Register at WTSpastorsandwives.com.

Each couple will receive a complimentary copy of Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. Kent Hughes says about this book: “I have written 35 books. If I had to choose only one of them to keep in print, it would be this one. Everywhere we go we have people come up to us and say, ‘I was ready to submit my resignation until somebody put your book in my hands.’”


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Kent Hughes

Dr. Hughes (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of practical theology at WTS.

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