[EDITORIAL NOTE:—Because it will be of interest to all ministers' wives to know the nature of some of the questions presented to Mrs. Blackwood by our Seminary group, after her talk as given in the last three installments, we are giving you verbatim the discussion of these problems. Observe the wisdom, forethought, and caution of our guest speaker in steering these questions toward definite ministerial principles.—L. c. K.]
MRS. D. E. ROBINSON: Do you think that it helps or hinders the minister to have his wife report the gossip that she hears in the church?
MRS. BLACKWOOD: There is enough dirt that he has to come in contact with without our adding to it, and unless it is something that vitally affects the work—if it is just a little bit of busy-body talk—keep it to yourself. That would be my advice.
Mrs. D. E. Rebok: "*That -would lead to another question, Mrs. Blackwood. Is it necessary for the minister to tell his wife everything that he knows?
MRS. BLACKWOOD: No, it isn't. Very often a person will come to the minister with a problem or with some question, and it is almost like the Catholic confessional. The minister must bury those secrets in his own heart. Just a case in point: We had a woman in one of our parishes whose husband was a drinking man. She had this great sorrow on her heart and talked to my husband over and over again. She thought nobody else knew anything about this. It was being done in secret. But she was unburdening her heart to my husband. After we had left that particular church she came to a place where my husband was lecturing, and he had talked about bearing the cross. As we left the meeting she put her arm around me and asked, "Did your husband ever tell you what my cross is?"
I said, "No, he never did, but I know."
And she asked, "How did you know?"
I replied, "I have smelled Jack's breath." But I was glad to be able to assure her that my husband had never told me what it was.
MRS. REBOK: I raised that question, Mrs. Blackwood, because our younger wives as they start out sometimes allow a little bit of friction to come in the home if they feel that the members of the parish are pouring tales of woe into the husband's ear, and he doesn't share them. And I thought we ought to make it quite clear that there are secrets the wife, must have, and there are secrets the pastor must have, and that it is not necessary, or even advisable, for those secrets to be interchanged.
MRS. BLACKWOOD: I know a good many things my husband doesn't know!
MRS. C. E. WENIGER: Is it all right to say, "May I ask my husband?" or, "May I share this with my husband?"
MRS. BLACKWOOD: Yes, but if a woman comes to you with a marital problem, as she is more likely to do than with almost anything else—or with troubles about the children (but particularly if it is a marital problem)—she will say, "Now, don't tell your husband anything about this." She wants to keep that just between you and her. Though, if it is something like, "What shall I do about it?" then say, "Would you mind if I talked this over with my husband and got his advice?" As I said a while ago, be careful about giving specific advice.
MRS. E. R. GUMBO: Some of us ministers' wives are very young. Should someone come to us for advice, how much should we give them when we haven't been married very long ourselves? How much do they expect us to know?
MRS. BLACKWOOD: Well, they expect you to know a great deal more than you do, I'll tell you that! I think it depends largely on the kind of question that is asked. If it is in relation to money matters, or how much work you shall do, or something of that sort, you can say, "My experience has been thus and thus." But if it is something that verges on more delicate things, I would ask for a little time to think it over or maybe to talk with your husband about it. I would be very careful, however, about giving specific advice.
MRS. REBOK: Wouldn't it be a good idea, if a problem gets over into the medical realm, to suggest the name of some Christian doctor in the community who could give advice that is necessary? It protects you, and at the same time if knowledge is truthfully sought and needed, the physician is in a better position to give it than the minister's wife.
MRS. WENIGER: Mrs. Blackwood spoke about the indifferent type. In every church group there are those who are not interested in its various organizations. What can you do to get people to an organization meeting—people who really need it?
MRS. BLACKWOOD: Of course that always poses a problem. If you can find out what the person is interested in, get her to work, and then link that up with the church. In the pastorate, for instance, you will hear a great many people say, "Well, I am not interested in foreign missions." They would not come to a foreign missionary meeting fox anything. But they say they are interested in home missions. If you can get them to doing something in the local community, by and by you may get their interest for missions, and they begin to see that it is all for God's kingdom.
MRS. GUMBO: This morning Dr. Blackwood was asked about how much time a minister should spend in study and in pastoral calls. He said the mornings should be spent in study and each afternoon in pastoral calls, but I don't believe it should be left entirely to us to decide a schedule like that.
MRS. BLACKWOOD: Well, if you ever see a copy of my book, you will see that fully discussed in the second chapter, "The Minister's Wife as the Homemaker." My contention is that the home comes first. A pastor's wife can do much more good by remaining in the home and tenderly caring for her baby, which is a gift from God to her, than she can by leaving that baby and going out to do church work and neglecting the home. The home comes first, and then the church. But when your baby gets a little older and more settled into routine habits, you should be able to do a little more work in the community. But, remember that you can't make a full-time job of it as long as you are raising a family. Just put this down in your little book and weep over it—your husband belongs to the congregation. You will discover that very soon.
MRS. REBOK: It's sometimes hard to decide whether a minister belongs to the public more than a doctor does, or whether a doctor does more than a minister.
MRS. BUACKWOOD: I think it's just about a fifty-fifty proposition. The minister is "on call," the same as a doctor.
We are coming close to the time to end our meeting, and there is one more little prayer that I want to leave with you as we stop. Someday, now—for you girls that are just beginning it would seem a long, long way off—the time will come when irrevocably the calendar goes on and retiring time comes, when you and your husband will be sitting by the western window waiting for life's little day on earth to end. Then you will rejoice that you have served as the companion of your husband in the greatest work in the world, and you will say together this prayer:
"O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over, and our work is done; then, in Thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging and a holy rest and peace at last, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
[End of Series]