The wife of the pastor is, by this very fact, an important element in his success as a worker in the cause of God. She governs the home, the source of life and inspiration for the marriage, and the place where he receives food and clothing and material wellbeing. She cares for her husband when he is ill, inspires him in meditation and study, and in prayer when he is inclined to be discouraged. She is his best counselor about many problems of the home, and concerning the sisters in the church, and the children. She is an example for the church and the world of what her husband preaches and teaches. She accompanies him on more than one mission of beneficence and instruction. In many ways she is his right hand.
For the wife of the pastor-evangelist it would be of great benefit to keep her responsibility constantly before her. In her position of wife and mother she will be helped by the reading of good books that speak of her responsibilities and privileges. The Ministry of Healing contains excellent counsels for the wife and mother in the administration and direction of a Christian home.
The pastor's wife would do well to meditate on the lives of the mothers and wives spoken of in the Bible. The life of the mother of Moses is edifying. Ruth, Naomi, Anna, Sarah, Priscilla, Dorcas, Phebe, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, offer examples worthy of study. The pastor's wife could draw instruction and inspiration for her life from what great men have said and written about the mission of woman. Let us note this thought of Martin Luther: "There is nothing in the world more tender than a woman's heart in which piety abides." Abraham Lincoln, full of gratitude to his foster mother, said, "All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother." And the Bible says, "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord" (Prov. 18:22). "A prudent wife is from the Lord" (Prov. 19:14). These concepts concerning woman can guide the conduct of the pastor's wife in the home and serve her as a stimulus in the sometimes seemingly overwhelming task of life.
The place where the pastor's wife attains supreme importance is the home. There humanity finds its most valuable resources. One of the greatest contributions the wife can make to the work of the pastor consists in maintaining the home orderly and clean. Someone has said that cleanliness is next to godliness. When the pastor goes out on an itinerary to help the lost, from a disorderly and dirty home, he does not leave nobly to fulfill the high duties of his ministry. But he who leaves behind him a well-cared-for home carries a secret strength for the accomplishment of his mission. A good motto for the home is: "A place for everything, and everything in its place." Punctuality in the meals and in holding family worship and going to church help the pastor in his work; and the wife is an important factor in attaining this punctuality in all cases. Of course, wives may sometimes have reason to complain that their husband's work or perhaps his lack of attention to the matter makes such punctuality impossible of attainment.
The consecrated wife will take care to see that the house is completely in order by Friday afternoon, and thus everything is ready when the hours of the Sabbath arrive. In the home of the pastor Christian warmth and sympathy should reign. The wife will try to be friendly to visitors, since the church and the world consider the pastor's home as a kind of city of refuge. The furniture will be arranged in good taste; the walls will be adorned with pictures that by their beauty and art elevate the spirits of the dwellers in the home and of the visitors. In the pastor's home the strangers and the poor must find hospitality. In their practice of this virtue "some have entertained angels unawares." The Lord tells us that "he that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord" (Prov. 19:17). The less fortunate should be able to feel at ease in the pastor's home, where food for the poor will be prepared and where those who are enduring the adversities of life will be received. All should find there the stimulus, help, and counsel they seek, and the wives of pastors should fully understand the high privilege they enjoy in fulfilling their domestic ministry.
One of the activities in which the pastor's wife can exercise her most valuable gifts is the rearing of children. Children very early ac quire the habits and customs of their parents, and it is the mother who teaches them the most important lessons of life. They should be taught very early the value of obedience. The child who has learned to obey possesses a precious heritage that will be useful to him all his life. There is no adult person who does not feel happy to have arrived at an under standing of the significance of obedience. When conviction moves us to submit our will to the great principles of life, or we see ourselves obliged to accept the circumstances that life presents to us, then we are happy to have learned in infancy to obey. How can a father teach his son to obey if he himself does not know how to do it? The more preparation we have in this respect, the better we will be able to guide others in the way of life.
From earliest infancy the children should be taught through small domestic duties to carry responsibilities. By making his bed, helping to wash the dishes, dusting the furniture, bringing in the firewood, running errands, keeping the house in order, and putting away his playthings before going to sleep, the child can learn very valuable lessons. Mothers who overlook these details harm their children. They should take pains to teach the little ones the things of life while they are with them in the home or in the street, answering the questions they ask about what they see and hear. The wise mother is happy to try to answer the many questions of the children, explaining what to her is simple but what appears confusing to childish eyes. In this way she will become the best counsel and guide of her children when they reach youth. Mothers, plan with a view toward the future.
The pastor's wife also has a task to accomplish in the religious education of her children. She should teach them reverence in worship while they are still small. Some parents fear to bring their children to the church at too early an age. But if from the time he is tiny the child knows what it is to behave badly, he can also learn to behave well. From a very early age he should learn habits of reverence; in the home as well as in the church he must be educated in reverent prayer. Also there must be formed in him the habit of attending the Sabbath school.
The pastor's wife will not permit her children to eat during the Sabbath school, nor to run through the corridors, nor to play with persons seated ahead of or behind them. The other members of the church will imitate the deportment of the pastor's family. Therefore they should carefully guard their conduct at all times. The pastor's wife, guided by prudence, will never criticize the pastors or workers of the conference in the presence of the children, nor will she find fault with her husband when she is with them. Such habits can have dire consequences. When the parents criticize the church and the preacher, the children lose confidence in God and many times even in their parents. The children reared under such influences frequently become unbelievers.
The wife of the pastor will enjoy many satisfactions in helping him in his duties. As she accompanies him in giving Bible studies she will acquire prestige among the people, and whenever the opportunity presents itself they will consult her about problems of the home or those of the feminine sphere. Thus her responsibility and her privileges will continually increase. Participating in the duties of the Sabbath school, the Young People's Society, or the Dorcas Society will offer her the pro found satisfaction of contributing tangibly to the great work of God. The pastor's wife will be very useful in the church if she plays the piano or the organ, or if she can sing. What beautiful spiritual mes sages are offered by song and musical instruments! And how many blessings a pastor's wife can give to a church if she teaches the children and young people to sing praises to God! The pastor's wife, if she is wise, will not expect her husband to repeat to her the confidences that he receives while working for souls. People confide their afflictions to the pastor, but they do not want him to share them with his wife or with other persons. The pastor who does so will soon see himself deprived of the confidence of his members and will fail in his work. A wise pastor's wife will never give the impression of dominating her husband. I have observed for some time that one of the greatest errors the wife of a worker can make is to spread the rumor that the pastor thinks and says what she dictates to him. Avoid these things, pastors' wives, in order to prevent the failure of the work of both of you!
May each wife remember that while the pastor does his part in speaking to the people, she can do hers with the silent example. She can meditate on the great role and responsibility she should carry out in sharing in the proclamation of the gospel.
Permit me to remind you that you are queens without crowns, heroines without homage, in the circle of the home, the highest human institution. Maintain that home spotless. Strengthen it so that it may serve as a city of refuge to the hungry and the discouraged. Walk among the people of the world with that evangelistic simplicity and that dignity of which the Bible speaks and which will be recognized someday as the greatest in the earth.