Hints by a Minister's Wife

From our short experience in evangelism, we have gathered a few impressions which may prove helpful to Bible instructors. From the viewpoint of an evangelist's wife, I should like to discuss a few points which, if recognized and corrected, would make the work of the Bible instructor more valuable to the evangelist.

 ETHEL NUMBERS COON, Syracuse, New York

From our short experience in evangelism, we have gathered a few impressions which may prove helpful to Bible instructors. From the viewpoint of an evangelist's wife, I should like to discuss a few points which, if recognized and corrected, would make the work of the Bible instructor more valuable to the evangelist.

First, be willing to adapt your own personal plans to fit those of the evangelist with whom you are working. There are methods, and there are methods. We do not all use exactly the same procedure. When I took my first job as a stenographer I had just finished my course and naturally thought I knew the right form for turning out a finished letter. And, of course, I felt that my way was the only right way. My employer taught me a lesson I have never forgotten. He had his own style, and he ex­pected me to follow that style as long as I was working for him.

So, although we may feel—and at times right­fully so—that our method is superior to that of the evangelist, we must be willing to give up our wishes at times and fit right into the method of the man at the head of the company. This will go a long way in making the machinery run smoothly, and the more smoothly we can make our machinery run, the better will be the finished product. Remember, co-operation is of more value than method.

By this we do not in any way mean to infer that a co-worker should not be free to express herself concerning her ideas of ways in which the work might be improved. This is one of the objects of the workers' meetings held during the campaign. Be free to counsel together and express your own mind. But if your plan is not followed, be willing to follow the plan of your leader without irritation. Ever be on the alert to see anything you can do to make the work of the evangelist easier, but be careful not to go to the extreme of making yourself officious. In your eagerness to help, do not appear bossy and overbearing. Most men are allergic to being bossed by the feminine sex. This is just as true in an evangelistic company as it is in the home or office.

Be loyal to the evangelist. Although you may not see eye to eye in everything, uphold each other before the people. A spirit of unity seen among the workers by those in attendance is very helpful in aiding them to make favorable decisions.

We once had an experience which perhaps is unusual, but it illustrates the point in question. We had a very capable Bible instructor working with us. No one could give a better Bible study than she; neither could we find anyone who could give a more helpful Sabbath school lesson study review. But she was so sympathetic with the people when visiting in their homes that instead of helping them to decide for the truth, she actually made it seem very reasonable for them to reject it. We could not determine for a long time what the trouble was, but finally it came to light. And years later we found also, by her own confession, that this same worker talked against the evangelist as she visited among the people. Then, of course, it was plain why greater and more enduring results were not seen. "If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Mark 3 :25.

When reporting work done and visits made, be as brief as consistent. An evangelist does not appreciate being burdened with unnecessary details. If he felt capable of carrying all details in his mind and caring for them, he would not need your help. Always remember that when it comes down to the last analysis the burden of the whole campaign is resting on his shoulders. He has to care for the larger matters. Most evangelists now have card reporting systems by which they can determine at a glance the degree of interest of each person. If he has to listen to a long, detailed account, he might save time if he made the visit himself. So in reporting, he brief, concise, and to the point.

Be wide-awake, alert, farsighted. During a public effort keep close watch of your people. Make it a point to know the new faces from night to night, as far as lies within your power. If you can help it, don't let the newcomers get away without a hearty handshake and a friendly smile. Show a personal interest in them that will make them want to return. The evangelist appreciates such co-operation.

In giving Bible studies don't talk too much. You will be a greater asset to your evangelistic company. Leave your people wanting more rather than worn out. And be careful not to go ahead of the evangelist in your visiting. This is appreciated by all leaders.

I suppose there is no characteristic of a Bible instructor that is more valued by an evangelist than dependability. This is true in any branch of work. The dependable person is the one in demand. What a load is lifted from the shoul­ders of the evangelist when he is able to out­line some particular work, turn it over to his Bible instructor, and know that the work will be done faithfully ! If he takes time to give it to another, then has to check to see if it has been done, and then, perhaps, in the end do it himself, it is much easier for him to do the work in the' beginning. Rare are the individuals who are absolutely dependable—so very rare that when one joins our company it is as refreshing as an oasis in the desert. As Bible instructors, would it not be well to develop on this point till you can really be rated as A-1?

Now, let us summarize the points and sug­gestions for a more effective working relation­ship between Bible instructor and evangelist:

Don't force your own methods. Be willing to submit to your leader, but still be yourself.

Don't speak of the failings of the evangelist—be loyal.

Don't wear out the evangelist with details—make your reporting brief, concise, and to the point. Don't talk too much—just enough.

Do be dependable. Carry your responsibility faithfully.

The burden laid upon our bible instructors is heavy. We value their good work. May God bless us all as we seek to improve—each in his chosen line.

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 ETHEL NUMBERS COON, Syracuse, New York

December 1943

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