Your husbands are studying to be ministers. You will be ministers' wives. And eventually, the "first lady" of the church. The people of the church will look up to you. You will be on a pedestal, always in the limelight. You will no longer live in quiet obscurity, as one of the crowd.
Here is a sentence which I think describes the ideal "first lady" perfectly. "The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian."—The Ministry of Healing, p. 470. God made us all different, and He wishes us to retain our own individuality, but we all can and should seek to be loving and lovable Christians.
As "first lady" we should love all the people of the church—the wealthy, the poor, the educated, the unlearned, the old, and the children. This love for people is not always shown by things we do, but by our attitude toward them. This is explained beautifully, I think, in a definition of charm that I once read. It said that charm is the ability to make the person you are with, or talking to, feel that he and you are both very important people. The love you feel for a person puts you and him at ease and makes him feel that he really matters. The way you shake a person's hand, smile at him, ask him how he is, can often do this. Remember that all people need to be loved, accepted, and feel wanted.
Before and after church, at church socials and picnics, it means so much to the people if you are there greeting them, visiting with them not in an official way, but going from one to the other as a friend, not missing any.
We cannot be this symbol of love and friendship to our people if we enter into family problems, or take sides with any, on church problems or problems between groups. Even when people call to tell their difficulties to the minister and want to describe them to us in his absence, explain to them that we prefer to have them wait and talk to him. It is so much wiser not to get involved in problems and also controversial topics that have no definite answer or may involve only a difference of opinion.
We are sometimes advised not to lead out in church activities. But we may find some areas so weak or entirely neglected that we will feel we must do something about them. If we tread softly, we can often do something with our love and interest and work that will be of real meaning to all.
If we are going to be this loving and lovable Christian, this charming "first lady," the areas I have mentioned in general—of loving all the people, of staying out of problem areas, of helping weak spots—are all important. But I think there is another one that is more important, and that is one's emotional, social side. I have divided this into four parts.
The first I have called SELF-CONFIDENCE —believing in ourselves. The devil knows that we can never be very outgoing or truly concerned about other people when we have self-fears, self-consciousness, inferiority feelings, feeling of being nothing, nobody. I think he has worked especially hard on Christians, and maybe even extra hard on Adventists. But God does not intend that we should have these feelings. Understanding Christianity and God should give us feelings of self-assurance.
Some of the great Bible stories illustrate dramatically what knowing God can do to give us dignity and assurance. I like so much that part of the story of Jacob that recounts the events when he is finally on his way to meet his long-lost son. Joseph took his beloved father, now an old man, to see his good friend, the king of Egypt. No doubt Joseph was dressed in beautiful garments, and the king even more regally. But Mrs. White says of this meeting, "The patriarch was a stranger in royal courts; but amid the sublime scenes of nature he had communed with the mightier Monarch; and now, in conscious superiority, he raised his hands and blessed Pharaoh."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 233.
What she says about John the Baptist also is a thrilling example of what knowing God can do to our feelings. "He could stand erect and fearless in the presence of earthly monarchs, because he had bowed low before the King of kings."—The Desire of Ages, p. 103.
God made us in His image; He would have come to earth and lived and died for even one of us; we are sons and daughters of God, princes and princesses, if you please. We know that the second great commandment Christ gave was the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. Does this not mean that Christ expected us to love ourselves? We are not to make ourselves into a door mat; if we do, people will surely walk on us and kick us about. Remember the advice Christ gave His disciples as He sent them out on their first missionary journey. "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet" (Matt. 10:14). And at the same time He told them, "Ye are of more value that many sparrows" (v. 31); and "The very hairs of your head are all numbered" (v. 30).
Ellen G. White uses the word "self-respect" many times. "Never forfeit your self-respect by hasty, thoughtless words."—Child Guidance, p. 219. You are important. You must believe in yourself—Christ believes in you! And always remember, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13).
(To be continued)