There are two basic requirements for any woman who aspires to be a helper to her minister-husband. First, she must love the Lord and His work; and, second, she must love her husband, and be willing to give her life in service with him. She must share her husband's devotion to his Master, and both must be willing to unite in sacrifice and self-denial in the work of winning souls for whom the great Sacrifice was made.
The wife's love for her husband must not be of the kind that demands constant attention and deference, but rather of the comradeship type that finds a place by his side, to work with him for the accomplishing of his great purpose in life. There is no soil more conducive to the growth of genuine and deep-rooted love than that afforded by close companionship in self-sacrificing labor for God.
The wife who is able to aid her husband in a public way by her gift of leadership, her talent in music, her skill as a nurse, or her ability as a teacher, is indeed a valuable helper, and her whole-hearted co-operation in her husband's work increases his usefulness manyf old.
Some are not so gifted in any of these ways, but there are numberless opportunities for service in the Sabbath school and other organized activities of the church. Besides these, there are lonely neighbors, the sick, the afflicted, the wayward boy or girl, the young person away from home, or perhaps with no home at all, the stranger seeking touch with God's pea ple, and, not least of all, the children of the community. Indeed there are so many opportunities for usefulness, it is not possible for one woman to compass them all. But on her interest in these things depends much of her spirit of inspiration to her husband.
The minister's wife who desires to be a real help will seek to grow mentally and spiritually, that she may keep pace with her husband; for he must grow if he is to labor acceptably.
She may sometimes tactfully make suggestions as to possible improvements in his methods of work, and she may often bring her woman's viewpoint to enlarge his understanding of the problems with which he has to deal.
She will carefully refrain from instilling into his mind doubts of God's faithfulness, and from arousing in him resentment against his brethren. If criticism comes, she may, by her own faith and calm loyalty, aid him in making of it a stepping-stone to higher attainments.
She may lengthen his term of service and increase his efficiency by providing suitable food and a restful atmosphere in the home.
A little care exercised in preventing avoidable interruptions will go far toward obtaining satisfactory results from the time set apart for study and the preparation of sermons.
The wife who is by nature "a good manager" is fortunate; but if she is not so gifted, it is essential that she learn wisdom in managing her household and in handling money. A strict account of all expenditures is one of the most effectual means of cultivating good judgment in that respect. Careless spending for luxuries or nonessentials usually means the incurring of debt for necessities; and no man, much less a minister of the gospel, can carry on his work efficiently under those circumstances.
If there are children in. the family, the minister's wife finds her opportunities and responsibilities greatly increased. By her influence and example the children must be taught to regard their father and his work with confidence. Because he must often be absent, it will rest upon her to keep father and children in close sympathy with each other, and to prevent any spirit of alienation which might otherwise creep in. as a result of repeated and sometimes long separations.
She must often be the interpreter to the children of their earthly as well as of their heavenly Father, and it is her privilege to lead them to share in her earnest prayers for the success of her husband's efforts.
In one other matter the wife of the minister may either greatly help or hinder his work, and that is by the letters she writes to him. A woman who writes of the gossip of the neighborhood, who details the small misdemeanors of the children, who mourns over her own ill health, or who dwells too long and too often on financial worries, may cause in her husband a spirit of depression and sadness at the very time when he needs special encouragement in order that he may bring a calm, serene mind to the perplexing questions with which he has to deal. There are letters that are so sunny and cheery that they are like wings to the spirit; others depress and drag down. Write often, but write briefly unless you can write happily.
The parable of the talents holds encouragement for the minister's wife. The man who was taking a journey himself measured the talents to his servants---"unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one." Even the least received one talent, but he, with the others, was held accountable for the use he made of it. Sometimes it seems to the minister's wife, in hours of loneliness and care, that her work is of little moment; on the contrary, every minister's home is a center of influence, and upon the use made by the wife of her heaven-intrusted talents depends in great measure what that influence shall be.
Day by day, here a little and there a little, her work goes on. She must live by faith, trusting God that her work is acceptable to Him. The one thing is to forget self and earthly recognition, and earnestly and prayerfully use in Ged's service every talent.
* By request—because of modesty—the writer's name Is withheld, thus varying from our usual custom. But we commend the perusal of this exceptionally helpful discussion to every minister's companion. It was written by a woman well qualified by experience and influence so to express her convictions.—Editor.