The Minister's Wife in Public Life

SHEPHERDESS: The Minister's Wife in Public Life & Additional Topics for Ministers' Wives' Meetings

The Ministerial Family—Part IV

Minister's Wife, Atlantic Union College


1. In a previous study we were reminded that our first duty is in our own homes, especially so if there are children de pendent on a mother's care. It is well stated, "As goes the home, so goes the nation." You may be sure that the entire church will reflect the minister's home.

2. Although our home is our first duty, let us remember that it is easy to permit duties, often mere things, to rob us of precious time that should be given to those in need. I do not mean the indigent, but rather those who need spirit ual encouragement and help.

3. In many lands today the physical needs of the poor are quite amply cared for. There are multiplied organizations that provide for them. This is well, and we should help whenever and wherever there is a need. Some lands are needing our help today. We dare not neglect our duty to help them.

4. But there is a particular, so often neglected, sphere where the wife of the pas tor must be alert "to speak a word in season to him that is weary." This does not mean that we should invite others to bring their burdens to us. One reason the world is in its present state is that too many refuse to lift their share of life's burdens. This we find even among church members.

True, there are times when the sharing of a burden, talking it over, lightens the load. Equally true, most of us are carrying all we can bear. This is especially true in the minister's home, for we cannot help feeling the pressure of the needs of the flock placed in our care. We must learn to "cast our burdens on the Lord." (See Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 753, 754.) Many burdens take on weight as they are told and retold.

"All have trials; griefs hard to bear, temptations hard to resist. Do not tell your troubles to your fellow mortals, but carry everything to God in prayer. Make it a rule never to utter one word of doubt or discouragement. You can do much to brighten the life of others and strengthen their efforts, by words of hope and holy cheer." Steps to Christ, pp. 124, 125.

Very often the best way to share and to lift a burden is to speak words of cheer and hope that are "the wings of the soul."

"Words of cheer and encouragement spoken when the soul is sick and the pulse of courage is low, these are regarded by the Saviour as if spoken to Himself. As hearts are cheered, the heavenly angels look on in pleased recognition." Ministry of Healing, p. 159. (Read the entire chapter.)



1. Generally speaking, it is not best for us to hold office or to head a department in the church. First, because we, with our husbands, are to be teachers for Christ, training others to bear burdens. So long as the minister's wife assumes the responsibilities the church feels she is capable of handling, she is robbing other members of the opportunity of developing leadership through experience. Then what happens when the pastor moves to a new assignment?

2. Second, we have a responsibility to be actively interested and ready to counsel in any and every department as the need arises. This is a nice and very delicate work. Mostly it must be done behind the scenes, with no thought of credit or reward. If done with such finesse that the one counseled goes away inspired and feeling that this was his own idea, then you are truly a leader and have won a friend.

It is wonderful to see the light of renewed courage on the face of a faithful burden bearer, or one just beginning and uncertain, when we speak the sincere "word in season." There are many who receive far too few lifts.

3. Types of Service and Commendation. 

a. Sometimes it may be some interesting material for the children's division, given with the simple statement, "I came across this and wondered whether you would have any use for it." Or perhaps an unexpected bouquet to brighten a rainy Sabbath day. 

b. How about the faithful organist? Perhaps we do not recall the selection, or it is new to us. Why not go beyond wondering and say, "Thank you," and add to our knowledge of preludes and offertories? 

c. Was the Sabbath school mission story well given? Again that "word in sea son" for a task well done paves the way for future service. Or perhaps there is need for improvement. Sometimes it is impossible to hear what is said. The leaders on the rostrum may not realize this. Perhaps some timid soul needs our help and encouragement to a life of real burden bearing. 

d. The sudden illness of some leader may call for our taking over. Or perhaps someone fails who had a part in the day's activities. We must be interested to learn why, in order to en courage them.

e. Perhaps I have said enough to show why it is not best to be "tied" to some special place. Most well-run hospitals plan for "floating nurses." These are on call, to be sent to the place where the need is especially urgent. Generally these floating nurses are upper- classmen with experience, able to take over without detailed instruction. So the pastor's wife is the servant of all. 

f. There are times when she must ac company her husband. Then she will be doubly thankful that a trained leader is carrying the burden in the home church.

g. Of course in all this we recognize the personal talents and capabilities. In some very small churches it may be necessary for the pastor's wife to be organist, or even to train the choir, or lead the young people. We believe this should be only when absolutely necessary. Why not reserve her talents for the special and festive occasions?


III. SPECIAL DUTIES FOR THE MINISTER'S WIFE. There are always special duties that fall to the hands of the pastor's wife. In a special sense she with the deaconesses is the hostess of the church.

1. The guest speakers. Who should entertain them? Guests enrich any home. If some members want the blessing, we should unselfishly encourage them. But if no one speaks the word of welcome, it is our duty at least to arrange for their stay.

2. Watching for visitors. This is very difficult in a large church. Often they come late and are gone before you can speak to them. Where a large foyer permits, it is well to have not only deacons but also deaconesses to welcome strangers, help mothers with children, locate rest rooms, etc. This may be a real blessing to the deacons and deaconesses.

3. Communion service. The pastor's wife should know how to make the communion bread. Generally some kind soul knows it is a very special privilege to be entrusted with this sacred task, but several should be taught how to prepare the bread.

She must be on the alert for the timid or the stranger, to find partners for them in the ordinance service. We have drifted into customs that need to be corrected. Too often relatives or close friends habitually serve each other. It would be far better to make a broader acquaintance at such occasions.

The organist should also be relieved so as to take part. 



1. Should the minister's wife always accompany her husband? The pastor and the family doctor hold somewhat the same position in the homes of the people. We know how delighted we are when the wife of the doctor shows her personal interest. This is doubly true of the wife of the pastor. But we all recognize there are times when the person prefers a private visit. Circumstances must be our guide. Visiting family groups, or even an invalid where the family is present, may take on a more definitely pastoral call than the social visit, when the wife is also present. Sometimes there are private trials that need the ear of only the pastor, or perhaps the pastor's wife should go alone. These problems are more easily solved as we add experience to our ministerial career.

2. Generally speaking, it is well if the pas tor and his wife call together. Most visits should be brief, especially calls on the sick. Hospital visits do not require that we be seated. This is true also in the home if the patient is very ill. Our interest, our short, sincere prayer, will be more beneficial if we do not weary them. Be unsparing with the cards and notes by mail.

3. When visiting the homes of strangers or those newly interested or baptized, the pastor's wife should be present whenever possible. (Read Gospel Workers, pages 201-203.)



1. The lack of true reverence is cause for concern. We do well to read often the chapter entitled "Behavior in the House of God" in Testimonies, volume 5, pages 491-500, and to encourage church members to read it. Our example of quiet ness, attentive listening, ignoring disturbances when they are not our concern, will help others to act likewise. Bowing our heads on entering the church will discourage whispering.

2. Suggestions to keep children quiet in church:

a. Pictures, "Jesus books." 

b. Teach them to listen, to take notes. 

c. Avoid noisy toys.

3. True Sabbathkeeping in the home. 

a. Sabbath afternoon with God and nature.

(1) The walk of "Eyes or No Eyes."

(2) The listening "Post."

(3) The backyard "Paradise.

b. Suggestions for the rainy day. When the snow is falling. 

c. Sabbath evening worship hour in nature.

(1) Scripture text on nature.

(2) Evening hymns.

(3) Message of the stars.

(Practical demonstration of various features stressed in this program added to its interest. Various members took part, and there was much freedom of discussion by the entire group.)

Additional Topics for Ministers' Wives' Meetings

[EDITORIAL NOTE. Mrs. Taylor G. Bunch has provided us with some very helpful outlines for ministers' wives' meetings conducted at our centers. The foregoing outline concludes a series of four of her programs, and we are herewith listing other topics. These subjects became the basis for a year's discussion at the South Lancaster group meetings. Should leaders desire to contact Mrs. Bunch personally, kindly address her at Atlantic Union College, South Lancaster, Massachusetts. L. c. K.]

1. The Minister's Home

2. Learning to Live With People

3. The Study Hour

4. Hints on Diet and Serving

5. Dress in the Ministerial Home

6. The Mother in the Parsonage

7. The Home and Its Furnishings

8. Living Within Our Means

9. The Pastor's Wife in Public Life

10. Parsonage Hospitality and Entertainment (Demonstration Making Communion Bread)

11. Christian Etiquette12. When Called to Another Field

13. Preparation for Overseas Work

14. Building Bible Studies15. Presenting the Spirit of Prophecy

16. Acquaintance With Other Denominations

17. Meeting the Critical, Backsliders, and Off shoots

18. The Ministerial Library

19. Music, in Parsonage and Homes of Parishioners

20. What Truly Counts (Avoiding Small Thinking)

[End of series]



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Minister's Wife, Atlantic Union College

June 1952

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