I WANT to talk about the six loves of a minister's wife. By these six loves I do not mean the six young hopefuls who asked you for dates (or perhaps whom you hoped would ask you for dates) in your academy and college days. I mean the loves that enrich and govern your life as you stand by the side of your minister husband. First of all there is—
The Love of Her Family
The minister's wife who does not have a happy relationship with her own family is not very likely to have a happy relationship with the greater family of the church, for the church is in a sense an extension of her own family.
The greatest evidence of the power o£ Christianity that can be presented to the world is a well-ordered, well-disciplined family. This will recommend the truth as nothing else can, for it is a living witness of its practical power upon the heart.—The Adventist Home, p. 32.
Thus, one of the basic requirements of the minister and his wife is that they maintain a happy and an exemplary home life, for if they do not it will surely show! To a large extent the wife sets the controls in the atmosphere of the home. If she is happy and cheerful about her tasks, those about her will be infected with the same spirit. How important then that she maintain a constant and strong attachment to the One who alone can give peace and contentment to the heart.
Check often the general atmosphere of your home. What predominates? Is it usually—
Cheerful or gloomy? We should be the happiest people in the world. We have a hope to live for and a strength to live by. We have every reason to be cheerful, so let's show it.
Patient or impatient? As parents we have to be constantly on the alert, but we must watch with never-ending patience. It is our impatience that alienates our children and teenagers from us. Let us listen and with calmness, give our viewpoint, and with care explain our position.
Hurried or leisurely? One enters some homes where one has the feeling of walking into a giant blender or mixer. Everything is whirling so fast. For some reason many of us feel that being in a continual hurry is a virtue, and that people will think we are inefficient if we are not always in a hurry and flurry, a hustle and bustle. But this does not help our families. Let us go about our work in a calm manner. Much of our hurrying is a testimony to poor planning and management.
Contented or discontented? You will never have all the things you would prob ably like to have for your home, but like Paul, be content with such things as you have and let that contentment show. You have a heavenly Father, you have a Saviour, you have a place in this glorious work, you have a husband doing His work, you have a family to cherish, a church to love, and a home and friends. Let your gratitude be communicated to others.
Tense or relaxed? Is the atmosphere of your home relaxed? or is it tense with anxiety? Is it adaptable? It needs to be, for the parsonage is only partly a private home. It becomes a refuge for all sorts of people—advice seekers, those who need consolation, the confused, the frightened, and the lonely. They do not observe office hours so there must be much give and take in the parsonage. Do you keep relaxed in these circumstances, or do you let frequent interruptions and disrupted schedules disturb you?
Of course, there are other things that contribute to a good atmosphere in the home. Maintaining the family altar is of prime importance. While the father is priest of the household, the mother should see that worship time is guarded. If the pastor-father has to leave early in the evening for a meeting as he frequently has to, let him at least have prayer with the family and leave the mother to have a more leisurely reading time with the younger ones. How sweet it is to start the day with everyone around the breakfast table and father's voice leading in a prayer for God's guidance and keeping during the day.
Make religion practical in the happenings of the day. Show how it is applied in work and play.
Maintain a good health program, for so much of the family's happiness and well-being depend upon obedience to laws of eating, of exercise, of rest, et cetera.
Keep the family together as much as possible at mealtimes. We are fast becoming a nation of snack snatchers and refrigerator raiders, and it is a great pity. Let us plan to have as many meals together as we possibly can, for a happy mealtime does the most, next to worship-time, to keep a family close together.
Homemaking is a privilege and when it is coupled with caring for the larger church family it is a greater privilege. Let us love the work we are given and let our enjoyment show.
The Love of the Flock
Next to the love of family comes the love of the greater family—the church, in particular the church where she finds her self posted.
How Christ loves His flock! Each member of the fold is dear and precious to Him, and we have a special responsibility to reveal His love to those we serve, even though some may appear very unlovable to us.
True, the church is primarily the pas tor's responsibility. Yet the shepherdess cannot escape her responsibility. "A sister laborer in the cause of truth can under stand and reach some cases, especially among the sisters, that the minister cannot. A responsibility rests upon the minister's wife which she should not and cannot lightly throw off."—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 452.
More important than serving the congregation with your leadership in the Missionary Volunteer Society, in the children's division, or in the choir, is your ability to make members and would-be members feel at home in the church. Our members look to their pastor to feed their spiritual hunger and they look to you to give them warmth. Even if you are not the appointed hostess you can be sure, as far as possible, that everyone coming into the church has a warm welcome and a smile with an exchange of greetings and a few words. Of course, in larger churches it is impossible to talk to everyone, but you can look out for those who are by themselves and greet them.
Keep your smile handy. Some years ago I learned how valuable a thing a smile is when I temporarily lost mine—yes, lost it. Surgery on my head resulted in injury to a nerve and paralysis of one side of my face. When I attempted to smile the result was one terrible grimace. For several months I forced myself to keep a straight face, knowing that if I yielded to the strong temptation to break into a smile this horrible grimace would be the result. Under the blessing of God and with good medical care the wrong was righted and I eventually got my smile back intact, and how thankful I was!
Don't fight your members! Some time ago my husband and I went to visit a young pastor and his wife who were having some difficulty in their church. They were very discouraged and wondered whether they were really called into the Lord's work. As we listened to them we discerned the cause of the problem. Their relationship with their church members was a constant battle. They were aware only of the seamy side of each one instead of being sympathetic with their struggles. We know only too well that our churches are not the abodes of saints, but they are the refuge of those who want to be saints and want to do better, so let's stand by them and help them in their fight against sin.
(To be continued)