At a junior camp I was attracted by a six-year-old freckled and ambitious boy. When I looked at him, his whole face smiled. With an orange life jacket securely fastened around his middle and a butterfly net in hand, heflitted here and there about the beautiful northern campsite; he was more typical of a butterfly than were the butterflies themselves.
I managed to stop Jimmy one day before we were really acquainted, and in order to help nail our friendship and gain his confidence, I began to ask foolish adult questions.
"What does your daddy do?" I asked, and I'm quite sure he knew that I should have known.
"He's a minister," came the ready reply. "And what is your mommy's job?" There was no ready reply. "My mommy?" He looked puzzled.
"Yes, Jimmy, doesn't your mommy have a job?"
"Oh," and his eyes and face and freckles all broke into a proud smile, "Oh, my mommy is a minister's wife."
The boy went, and I was left with my thoughts. What a sensible, sweet, proud, matter-of-fact reply!
Wives of ministers, rise up and help your husbands finish God's work in this generation. Why are you looking for something to do? You have a job. Your present attitude may add to your husband's problems. Have you been a sort of part-time housekeeper instead of a full-time minister's wife?
There is nothing that helps a person who is attempting a great task more than to have help. Two persons working at a job generate enthusiasm in both.
I live in a suburban district, and there are many things yet to do around the place. When I have an unpleasant job that I wish I could let go, it helps me when my wife comes out just to see how I am getting along. Her words of approval on my slow-growing retaining wall mean much. She brings a match and some dry newspapers and starts burning the brush from the dead tree I just felled. She cleans out the wheelbarrow and puts it back into the garage. It's all rather nice —her help. I like having her come around; I get more done and enjoy my work more when she is at hand.
A contractor's wife may know little about her husband's houses or business, and the business goes on with no one's knowing the difference. Some might reason: Who cares whether the lawyer's wife is in town? Furthermore, the doctor's wife may never know what happens at the hospital or clinic each day. But there's something lost if the minister's wife never shows up for Dorcas. The minister's wife means more at a funeral, at times, than the minister himself. In a smaller church, when the women of the church meet Tuesday afternoon to clean the church school, it would be so much nicer if the minister's wife were there too. We should remember, however, that she may have other important duties to attend to. Perhaps the minister would like to invite a young Seventh-day Adventist dentist over for supper, because the dentist is thinking of setting up practice in the minister's city. There may be no supper invitation because the minister's wife is a clerk at some store that night. Then there are calls every minister must make in which his wife's presence helps so much in solving deep, abstract, intangible problems. Her very presence disarms the minister's would-be antagonist.
The ministerial couple represents a spiritual partnership. Every young man is admonished to select carefully and prayerfully a ministerial type of companion. A young farmer looks for a wife with his eyes open and his glasses on. A young would-be-minister should also make sure that his glasses are properly fitted. A conference president in selecting an intern should make sure the young minister's wife is with her husband and her God in the Lord's work. Indeed, she too is in the ministry.
It's her discreet and kindly voice on the telephone that solves many problems before they develop. It may at times be the minister's wife who spends hours at the hospital when a young mother delivers her first baby. Perhaps the baby's father is an overseas soldier. There may be many reasons for her presence being important. When Mrs. Pastor has gained experience she may help a young wife who is about to sue for divorce; who is better prepared than she to give loving Christian counsel?
Her husband's slides may pose another problem. Being nearest to him, she may be the someone to make sure the slides are all in order and right side up. She becomes acquainted with the typewriter, the hot-water bottle, the company dishes, the cradle-roll babies, and best of all—her Bible and her God. And what's better for a very busy husband to come home to than a cheerful wife and a clean, tidy house? The aroma of fresh loaves of bread cooling on the counter top is better than continual stacks of soiled dishes greeting his return.
No, a minister's wife should not drop from the lofty position of wife and mother to be a mere servant. In her husband's thinking she is still the queen of their home whether she joins the group in their church house-cleaning bee or plays the organ at church. While her first responsibility is her home that home is a ministerial home that serves others. Never should she become overanxious about his work and thereby jeopardize his usefulness. He is important, but let her learn at the feet of the Master how to handle him so he may truly minister.
Of course, occasionally a minister's wife may need to work, full time, but this is the exception and should never be made an excuse for earning money to buy modern furniture or to dress better than the average parishioner. On this point today, let there be few exceptions, and let these be considered very temporary indeed if the ministerial couple wants to avoid future difficulties. Laymen cannot be educated into thinking that the minister's wife must work. Attempting to do that merely adds to the problem and causes a lack of respect for the ministry.
Most ministers have good cars and an annual vacation, not to mention some hobbies that require extra outlay. It is time we considered anew the high calling of our ministration. Jesus offered a cross and His provision for life's necessities to those He ordained to do His work. Ministers are as human as other men. and they have recreational needs, of course, but elaborate hi-fi's, motorboats, seashore cottages, and the many luxuries today considered important by other men are not generally included in the Adventist minister's necessities. It is better if we restrain our desires for these modern facilities.
The minister's wife can save more by not working outside of the home. Canning or freezing food in season saves money. Having opportunity to shop on sale or bargain days has its rewards. Sewing her own and the children's clothes saves money; baking bread for the family is cheaper than buying it. Consider this well. Should the pastor's wife become restive to work elsewhere than in her home, then let her see the field secretary. It would certainly be in order for her to sell a few Bedtime Stories or truth-filled magazines, at least just before Christmas. Such occupation is legitimate and provides extra money for the projects her husband places on the shoulders of our lay people. The wife should train her children to consider this work ennobling —even more so than selling fudge and cookies, remember. The latter may be the way of nominal churches; the former is the way of Adventism.
So minister's wife, you are called to your work by God, as was your companion. You were called to ministerial duties and not to earn money. God never fails in His contract when He promises the Christian minister's family enough to supply their needs. Surely you will trust Him to do this. Your life has been glorified with the talent of influence in ministerial work. Of this talent you will need to give an account. Make certain that you are cooperating with God so that He will bless you in the church. Your lay sisters are watching your interest or lack of interest in hastening the coming of our returning Master. Let us be faithful to our high calling.