Uncrowned Queens

"The minister's wife has a happier lot than any other woman. Owing to the nature of her husband's work she must meet certain trials and problems, but her opportunities for service far outweigh all handicaps."

R. ALLAN ANDERSON, Secretary, General Conference Ministerial Association

A thousand years before Christ the psalmist observed that "kings' daugh­ters were among thy honourable women" (Ps. 45:9). This issue of THE MINISTRY is dedicated to the King's daughters, "honourable women"—shep­herdesses of God's flock. If the correspond­ence coming to this editor's desk in any way reflects the thought of our readers, then the Shepherdess section of THE MIN­ISTRY is in some ways the most popular feature of the journal.

"I always turn to that part first," said one administrator's wife, and then she added shyly, "and so does my husband!" And from all accounts many husbands do likewise.

Since this section was added to the mag­azine as a regular feature five years ago, messages have appeared from many and varied sources, covering almost every phase of the work of those who stand as stalwart partners with our ministers in the service of the Lord. Carolyn P. Blackwood, whose con­tribution five years ago was so much ap­preciated, says:

"The minister's wife has a happier lot than any other woman. Owing to the nature of her husband's work she must meet certain trials and problems, but her opportunities for service far outweigh all handicaps."

And to further impress her convictions, this gifted wife of the past professor of homiletics in Princeton, declares: "If I could turn back the hands of time, and know all that lay before me, I should still choose to marry a minister, provided he were the one I married forty years ago!"

With such a sense of mission, it is little wonder that the son of this experienced shepherdess has followed in the footsteps of his father. Theirs has been a true min­ister's home, a constant example to the flocks they have served for so long.

What a tremendous influence godly women have exerted in the shaping of sa­cred history. Not only the wives of ministers and consecrated physicians, not only the patient mothers of ministers' children, but also that noble army of counselors—Bible instructors, teachers, secretaries, and mis­sionary nurses! Their contribution has been tremendous. The Priscillas and the Phebes—"unto whom not only I give thanks," says the great apostle, "but also all the churches of the Gentiles" (Rom. 16:4)—these have wrought miracles by their quiet wisdom and queenly grace. The gentle voice of guidance, the confident note of appeal, carries much farther than the strident tones of command.

Strange That Her Voice Could Carry So Far

We were making our way through the great wilderness of Sinai when we heard the clear tones of a feminine voice amid the silence of the everlasting hills. It was a wel­come sound, for we were not at all sure of our way. No road marks the course in those isolated parts; we needed someone to tell us where we were, but there was no one in sight. At Wadi Farran, fifty miles back, we had left a group of Bedouins. But since then we had seen no sign of life. We listened again, and, sure enough, it was a girl's voice. We decided to search this rug­ged terrain. At last we discovered the source of the sound. It was a little Arab shepherd­ess caring for her father's flock. Nervously she awaited our arrival. She dare not run away, for those sheep were her responsibil­ity. We were strangers and, for all she knew, might be enemies. Timidly she an­swered our queries as one of our number spoke to her in Arabic. Then she told us the way to Moses' mountain.

Strange that her voice could carry so far. She was not yelling. She was quietly talk­ing to the flock. And yet we heard that voice a mile or more distant on the other side of the hill. The gentle counsel of the shepherdess will often carry farther than the most eloquent sermon of the shep­herd!

It has been truly said that behind every successful man is a noble woman. In reality it was John Wesley's mother who gave to the world the Methodist Church and six thousand of our loveliest hymns. Was it not Mother Lincoln that inspired the Emanci­pation Proclamation? "All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother," said America's greatest president. True, she died when he was a boy, but she had al­ready sown the seed that bore so rich a harvest. Then think of Jochebed, Hannah, Rachel, Miriam, Catherine Booth, Mary Slessor, and Florence Nightingale. These and a thousand others have left records of sacrifice and devotion that have inspired the centuries.

Writing from the Roman dungeon, Paul reminded Timothy of "the unfeigned faith . . . , which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice" (2 Tim. 1:5). Those godly women instilled into that young man those qualities that made him what he later became. There was no such day as "Mother's Day" in that cruel age, but honor was their due none the less.

King's Daughter

Unselfish love and a sense of mission is what makes a real shepherdess. In the or­ganization of the church we need apostles, prophets, teachers, and administrators. But after enumerating the entire list the apostle says, "And yet shew I unto you a more ex­cellent way." Then follows the great chap­ter on love, which we would do well to read every day. Love is a quality that suffers long, is not puffed up, endures forever. Weymouth's translation reads:

"Love is forbearing and kind.

Love knows no jealousy.

Love does not brag; is not conceited.

She is not unmannerly, nor selfish, nor irritable,

nor mindful of wrongs.

She does not rejoice in injustice, but joyfully sides with the truth.

She can overlook faults.

She is full of trust, full of hope, full of endurance"

(1 Cor. 13:4-7) .

Substitute the word "shepherdess" for "love" and you have the perfect picture of a "King's daughter." Anyone who has lived in a minister's home realizes the many calls and interruptions that seem so much of the everyday program. Little folks, like their mothers, grow up with the conscious­ness that in all probability "Daddy will not be at home tonight because he has to go to a meeting." Even before the evening meal is finished, the telephone rings and he hur­ries off to meet an emergency.

In company with his family a minister was driving along a winding highway. They were admiring the scenery when he remarked, "Just look at that river rushing along down there!" His little boy, with sweet innocence, looked up and said, "Daddy, is the ribber going to a meeting?"

A true shepherdess has a lot to test her endurance, but there is no higher privilege and no greater work in all the world. More­over her influence can never be outlived.

"When the Young Men's Christian Association closed a convention in Atlanta 1% ith a joining of bands and the singing of 'Blest Be the Tie That Binds,' Henry W. Grady, the editor, refused to join. 'You fellows,' he said, 'have something that I do not have. I used to have it years ago back home with my mother, but I do not have it now.' A few days later he went to his office and said, 'I am going away for a week and I don't want anyone to know where I am.' He went straight to his old home where, fortunately, his dear old mother was still the queen among the roses. 'Mother,' he said, 'I came home to spend a week with you all alone. I want to go back to the old days and be just a boy again. I want to ramble around in my old haunts by day, and at evening I want you to tell me the old stories of David and his sling, of Daniel and the lions, and of Jesus and the shepherds.' Each night before he went to bed she sang to him as she did when he lay within her arms, and then he knelt by her side and folded his hands to that beautiful 'Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep' with which John Quincy Adams at eighty still closed the day. Two weeks, instead of one, slipped by, but when Henry W. Grady came out of that holy of holies, he came like Moses from God-enveloped Sinai, with face and heart shining, and delivered in New York one of the greatest addresses ever delivered on American soil." -JOSEPH B. BAKER, Sermons on Our Mothers, pp. 61, 62.

And so we dedicate this issue to the mothers, wives, teachers, companions in service. A few of you are occupying places of honor, but the great majority of the shepherdesses are unheralded and un­sung. Yet you are the ones who mold the lives of the coming leaders in the cause of God. When our minds go back to the il­lustrious history of Israel, we think of Moses. And yet in those early days of his life it was his sister who "stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him" (Ex. 2:4). Her part was unspectacular; she was hidden among the papyrus reeds on the Nile bank. But the service of that little Hebrew maid, whose eyes were glued on the wicker basket, was most vital. Little did she know that what she was doing so unobtrusively would determine the whole subsequent career of that mighty man, Moses. The deliverance of Israel, the ful­fillment of God's purpose for His people, depended on that wistful, watching, tactful little shepherdess. But what of all the other Miriams, those honorable women who stand ready to give their all, even life itself if need be, to forward God's message to the ends of the earth? We have seen them in the most primitive mission lands, and in the world's greatest cities. And their readi­ness to serve or suffer is ever the same.

The Sister-Mother Who Gave Her Life for Her Little Charges

Years ago in a home along the banks of the Mississippi a little girl of thirteen, known in her home as the "little woman," was left in charge of her little brother and two tiny sisters. The mother and father had been urgently called away. The servants, Daddy Jim and Mammy, had been in­structed to keep an unobtrusive eye on the little group during the day and to sleep in the house at night. But they too had slipped away for a few hours to take care of their own progeny. They intended to be back for the night, however. But when early eve­ning came and the little ones had been tucked in bed, this little sister-mother be­came aware of a strange coolness. Looking down she found the floor wet and oozing with muddy water.

She sensed at once what it was. The great Mississippi had broken through the levee, and soon the whole town would be submerged. She rushed to the window and called for Mammy and Daddy Jim, but they were not there; the roads were already impassable and they could not get back. What could she do? She must find some­thing to meet the need. She remembered the oblong tub on the edge of the porch. The water was already well over the porch floor, but she dragged the tub into the house, and without frightening the little ones, quietly slid it up the stairs to the sec­ond story. Placing it on a chair by the window, she lined it with a blanket, then took the food that had been left from their supper and wrapped it up in readiness. Dressing the children hastily in their warm­est clothes, she told them they were getting ready for a boat ride.

It was not long before the cruel waters reached the second floor, and realizing that to wait longer would be fatal, she placed her tiny charges in this little ark, expecting to take her own place beside them. But there was not room for another, so giving them their lunch she solemnly charged them to stay quietly in their place no matter what happened. Then guiding the strange little boat out of the window, she said, "Good-by darlings, I will be pray­ing for you, and if ever you see Mother and Dad, tell them I took good care of you."

That was a terrible night. Next day that little ark was found in the branches of a sycamore tree. The three little ones, cold, crying, but safe, were still there. But where was that little sister-mother? Her body was found floating down the river. She had given her life for the little flock under her care.

That spirit of heroism is part of the na­ture of a true shepherdess. It comes from the heart of One who gave Himself for us. And while the work of a shepherdess is rarely spectacular—it is usually done be­hind the scenes—yet without that contribu­tion of loving care and wise spiritual guid­ance, how poor the church would be! Some of the greatest chapters in history have been written by those honorable women—King's daughters indeed. And so we salute you and thank you for your sacri­ficial service that has meant so much to the cause of God. Your high place in the divine program is set forth in these inspir­ing words of counsel:

"Woman, if she wisely improves her time and her faculties, relying upon God for wisdom and strength, may stand on an equality with her husband as ad­viser, counselor, companion, and co-worker, and yet lose none of her womanly grace or modesty."—Evangelism, p. 467.

"Who can have so deep a love for the souls of men and women for whom Christ has died as those who are partakers of His grace? Who can represent the truth and the example of Christ better than Christian women who themselves are practicing the truth?"—/bid., p. 466.

We say again that there is no nobler work than that of our shepherdesses—the uncrowned queens in the army of the Lord. Fortunate indeed is he who has as his counselor and companion

"A perfect woman, nobly planned,

To warn, to comfort, and command.

And yet a spirit still, and bright

With something of an angel light."


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

R. ALLAN ANDERSON, Secretary, General Conference Ministerial Association

April 1956

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Her Greatest Work

Dear sister, what is your influence upon his life?

These Two!

Exploring the seldom used text of Ruth 4:11.

I Visited a Minister's Home

A look at the warmth, welcome, rest, and gentle dignity of theis home.

Mothering the Multitudes

The Role of a Minister's Wife in Safeguarding the of the Church

Questions for the Family

Many a Christian, like the three Hebrew worthies, have found an angel of the Lord with them during their own individual fiery furnace.

They Couldn't Hear the Preacher

His life spoke louder than his words.

"Home" Churches

Local churches are of inestimable value.

Getting Acquainted With the New Church

How to get acquainted with a new congregation.

A Tribute to a Doctor's Wife

A personal thank you.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - SermonView - Medium Rect (300x250)

Recent issues

See All