An abundance to some ministers' wives! Any talent should be appreciated, and can be used, especially in the ministry. If the minister's wife can sing, she certainly should use her voice in proclaiming the gospel and in winning souls.

Pastor's wife, Arizona Conference.

An abundance of talents can become a hindrance to some ministers' wives! Any talent should be appreciated, and can be used, especially in the ministry. If the minister's wife can sing, she certainly should use her voice in proclaiming the gospel and in winning souls. Or if she can play an instrument, she can make use of that talent in many ways, especially if her husband is a singer. This holds true of an artistic bent, or whatever the talent may be.

Being a pianist is helpful, but when a pastor's wife must occupy much time at the piano, it may interfere with her other duties. I have in mind her playing regularly for the church service, evangelistic meetings, or radio programs, which are confining duties that tend to hinder her from meeting the people, an important part of her work. Of course there are times when she may be the only pianist available, but this is one of the ways in which a talent may handicap her.

A Friend's Counsel

For many years I sat throughout evangelistic meetings and church services with my back to the audience and my hands on the piano keys, unaware that I was missing something vitally important by not having a more personal con tact with the congregation. One day a very dear friend told me that the church members en joyed hearing me play, but they felt they did not know me because I was always at the piano. It was then I began to think.

Being naturally a little backward in becoming acquainted and finding it difficult to be a good conversationalist, I had felt comfortable with what I considered a good alibi for not meeting the people. Now, however, I began to wonder whether I might not be missing more than I realized by always being the last one out of the meeting place, and consequently neglecting those who were attending. Since that memorable counsel of a friend,I have learned that church members like to meet their pastor's wife. Strange I didn't realize it before! They prefer it to all the beautiful music she may make on any instrument. I began to realize that very few of the congregation seem to know who is presiding at the piano or organ, and furthermore, most of them do not even care! But they do care who the pastor's wife is, and desire above everything else to speak to her and shake her hand. The pastor's wife is the sole recipient of this devotion such as a queen might receive, and it cannot possibly be bestowed upon her if she remains at the piano or organ until the crowd has dispersed.

Musical talents can become almost a dangerous asset to the pastor's wife, and I use the word "dangerous" with a great deal of regard for the term. The danger is in the likelihood that the ever-lurking sin of jealousy may appear. We shrink at the thought of mentioning it, but it is nevertheless very real. I have always felt that there is no excuse for this feeling anywhere, for I have yet to see the place where there is too much musical talent, and where there is not enough demand for all to use what ability they have.

When the pastor's wife plays an instrument, it is very easy for her to "fill in" where needed, which seems the logical and proper thing to do. But, in so doing, she must be very careful to cause no hurt feelings. It may be thoughtlessness or it may be absolute innocence on her part, but there are those who are ready to take offense at her playing if they feel that they instead of she should have been asked. I have at times found myself in embarrassing and needlessly tense situations because someone had not gained the victory over jealousy. Rather than cause such feelings to exist, I would much prefer never to play again.

And, I might also add, I have never entered into any church office hastily, but have allowed myself time to become acquainted with the members of the church, always endeavoring to cooperate with them rather than to dominate them. If I find myself on good terms with the musicians, I feel that I can play with more ease, and that my music can better glorify God than when there are feelings of jealousy over it.

Personal Experiences

Just one or two personal experiences may help to convey the idea I am trying to share with you. When I was very young and inexperienced, we moved to a small town where we were unacquainted. The first Sabbath we at tended church, the Sabbath school superintendent came to me and asked if I would play the piano. I consented, and at the close of the service he again came to me, asking if I would be the regular pianist. Not knowing the situation, I readily agreed to do so. Not long after ward, however, I heard that this man's wife would not come to church because I had taken her place as pianist. I felt so hurt about the unfortunate incident that I went to the superintendent and told him I would rather not play any more. But he told me this would not help, for his wife had always been like that, and as long as I remained there she would not feel any different. Had I known this before accepting the position, ill feelings might have been avoided.

Another experience helped me to learn that it is better at first to keep my talents in the background as much as possible when in a new place. It happened a few years ago when we took over the pastorate of a fairly large church. The first person I met on arriving in that city was the church organist. She seemed overjoyed that we had come to that place, for "music was just what the church needed." She hoped that we could have a choir, and that we might encourage the young people to sing, et cetera.

On our first Sabbath, my husband sang a special number for the church service. The organist was there, but we thought it was only natural that I should accompany my husband, which I did, on the piano. When the service ended I felt pleased to know that there was one person to whom I could speak with freedom, having already met her, so I hurried over to the organist and complimented her on her fine playing during the service. I received an icy stare that sent cold chills up and down my spine. Without a word, she walked away, leaving me there alone. I could not have been more stunned had she hit me on the head with a hammer, but I later learned that this was her customary manner with nearly all who had any musical ability. The two years we spent in that church were years of strain because of one woman who could not overcome jealousy.

There are those in the church who must depend a great deal on the pianist or organist. Perhaps the choir director, the Sabbath school superintendent, or a soloist may expect the pastor's wife to play because they think she is best qualified. She is in a difficult position, for she must try to please everyone concerned and yet not cause jealousy, and this is not easy.

Teaching in the church school, whether it be music or some other line of education, can also become a real source of bitter feelings between church members and the pastor's wife if we are not careful.

At times I almost envy the minister's wife who has no special talents, but when I remember that God gives these talents and that He also removes them if He finds them buried, I am grateful that I can still do my part, with the aid of a few humble talents, in preaching the gospel.

Finding Happiness


Happiness is a strange and elusive thing. What about the atmosphere in your home? Early in a new year, fathers and mothers should take a long look at the kind of environment in which they are bringing up their children.

Would an impartial observer consider your home a happy one? This is not so dependent on the purchase of objects as many people think. All the fine helps with housekeeping such as refrigerators, and vacuum sweepers, all the new tools for recreation such as radios, are all very nice to own but many of our grandparents created a happy home without them. In the twentieth century as in any past age, to a very great extent, the happiness in a home is colored, not by possessions, but by the parents' way of looking at life.

If mothers and fathers are anxious and rushed and fearful, they poison the carefree atmosphere of the home. These attitudes are very catching. "Susan is a little worrier!" one teacher ex claimed to another teacher. "You should see her mother!" the other answered. "After I had talked with Susan's mother I understood how the poor child could hardly help being such a fussbox!"

No one will deny that these are difficult days for adults. With the high cost of living, the fear of atomic destruction, and the feverish international situation, it is the easiest thing in the world to join the ranks of the "heavy worriers." Like drinking or smoking, worry is a habit which can grow to alarming proportions in people of a certain temperament.

How can parents escape from drifting into an anxious, fearful attitude to life which destroys inner poise? Surely it would be a help to parents if they could remember the past without bitterness or regret, face the future with courage, and live each day as it dawns fully and zestfully.

"What's done is done," Shakespeare said tersely. Past mistakes should not darken the present. We should learn from the error we have committed so that we don't make the same blunder twice. But neither should we have a "Perfectionist Pattern" for ourselves! Let us not live in misery when we cannot completely reach our highest ideals.

The future lies before us and there is a very sensible old proverb about not crossing bridges until we come to them. So many dire calamities never happen which people have been sure would come to pass. They have been very uncomfortable imagining bad times overtaking them and how they have wasted their time and energy!

We all can live only one day at a time. Sir William Osier, in his famous essay on a way of life, suggests that the path to happiness lies in living in the present and refusing to mourn over the past or be apprehensive about the future.

This all sounds very wise but how do ordinary mortals acquire the ability to do just this? Think about the people who are your friends and acquaintances. Did you ever know anyone well who lived each day fully, without remorse or uncertainty, who was not a person of faith?

People like this do not belong to any one religion and certainly not to any one denomination! By different paths they have reached the conviction that they do not struggle alone with their problems.

They lean on strength which comes from a Higher Power so that they can live a day at a time. In their own words, they echo in their hearts this ancient prayer:

"Temper my activity With manifold tranquility, That I may do my work for Thee In very great serenity."

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Pastor's wife, Arizona Conference.

March 1953

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