"If a minister would excel, the ministry will be a full-time job both for himself and his wife. When a girl is married to a minister, she is pledged to be a ministerial partner in his holy profession."
A Minister's Wife Needs Help" was the title under Letters to the Editor in the MINISTRY, November, 1961. The letter was quoted as follows:
"Some families seem to manage efficiently and have all they need and even some luxuries, while others are straining very hard just to make ends meet. What is the answer? Is it that some have outside financial help? Is it an absolute necessity nowadays for the minister's wife to work?"
How thankful we should be that the Spirit of Prophecy writings, our blueprint, never fail to give enlightenment. In this inspired statement is embodied the answer to the question of the minister's wife.
A responsibility rests upon the minister's wife which she should not and cannot lightly throw off. God will require the talent lent her, with usury. She should work earnestly, faithfully, and unitedly with her husband to save souls.—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 452.
The minister's wife is responsible for her talents, and evidently just being a minister's wife is a talent in itself for which God holds her accountable. God has called her to the task just as surely as her husband is called. There is a special work for her to do. She has been called to work unitedly with her husband. She has not been called to supplement their income, to earn a second salary, or to work apart from her husband away from home. She has not been called to be a breadwinner but a soul winner.
It is obvious, then, that to work is not the answer. The wife by working does not solve the problem. It only creates greater frustrations and problems than it seeks to solve. Financially, usually nothing is gained. The more a family earns, the more they spend. A second income invariably results in a second car, more clothes, baby-sitters, and increased expenses and expenditures. The answer is to cut down on the spending by distinguishing between wants and needs.
In The Adventist Home, page 383, we are cautioned against "fancied wants" and "extravagant tastes," and in Gospel Workers, page 203, we read that the minister's family should "restrict their wants." It is not necessary for them to keep pace financially with the professional people in the church. The minister's family should set an example in economy and management. There is nothing more detrimental to his work and influence than financial incompetence. How exemplary it is to see a minister's family who are well organized and relaxed about money, who live within their income and keep their wants within their budget.
When a minister's wife accepts employment away from home she forfeits her close and constant contact with her family, her husband, and his all-important work. She has to live two lives —play a double role—and is humanly unable to accomplish either successfully. Her interests are divided, for she must attend to her employment. Divided interests are not conducive to marital happiness or ministerial success.
More than in any other profession, success in the ministry demands close cooperation between husband and wife. They are an evangelistic-pastoral team—a vital partnership. Their lives are knit together in one absorbing purpose—to win souls. His interests are her interests; his work is her work. They pray and work together for the lost. Fellowship in the service of God, companionship in labor together, bring a deep satisfaction, a wonderful closeness.
Some ministers' wives are employed in nursing, in teaching church school, or working in conference offices. However worthy and important these avenues of service are, the place of the minister's wife is by the side of her husband in his ministry. "The people expect this, and they have a right to expect it. If these expectations are not realized, the husband's influence is more than half destroyed."—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 452. A minister may get along without his wife's help. He may get by with mediocre accomplishments. But if a minister would excel, the ministry will be a full-time job for both himself and his wife. When a girl is married to a minister, she is pledged to be a ministerial partner in his holy profession.
The work of the minister's wife is outlined specifically in Testimonies, volume 1, page 452:
With meekness and humility, yet with a noble self-reliance, she . . . should act her part, and bear her cross and burden in meeting, and around the family altar, and in conversation at the fireside.
4. In her own home. She is her husband's secretary. She assists him in reading, study, and research. She keeps up to date on current periodicals, and files materials. She has at her finger tips just the illustration, story, or statement he needs. She is also the priestess of her home. "She looketh well to the ways of her household." In his taxing work she knows how necessary it is that there be household tranquillity. His home is a refuge, a peaceful retreat where love and harmony reign supreme.
We have enjoyed Louise C. Kleuser's inspiring MINISTRY articles on "Candles in the Night." In the Reformation, as in the days of our pioneers, God used men and their wives whose life and influence were marked with a spirit of devotion and sacrifice. So He will again work mightily through His ministers in the last glorious, climactic events of the latter rain when the message will swell into the loud cry. And with these ministers in this final work will be their faithful companions. Through these powerful gospel teams God's Spirit will be poured out and the work will be finished in a mighty crescendo of victory. Therefore, ministers' wives should be wholeheartedly with their husbands in their work now, in preparation for the final visitation and the grand consummation.