I DISCOVERED many years ago that in the husband-wife team my wife was at least 50 percent of our effectiveness. Many men have succeeded in the ministry because a good wife stood by them and gave her full support to the pro gram of the church. Other men who tried and failed might have made it if only the home front had been secure. You and I have known husbands in both these categories.
Let's have a look at these wives of ours. We should give them full credit for all they have meant to us through the years. Certainly I would not want to do otherwise in my own experience.
It is good for us to stop and take inventory. Just how does my wife fit into my pattern of service? What is it about her that makes her the successful helpmeet she is? What are those traits of character that make her indispensable to my success? Perhaps such an inventory-taking might be helpful to other wives and husbands, too. Here's what I appreciate about Elaine.
She lets me stay out front. Some wives I might name want to occupy the spotlight, and it becomes all too apparent that the Mrs. runs things in the home and in the church. Elaine doesn't work that way. Although she has a mind of her own (and she shares it with me on appropriate occasions!), I am the pastor. .Her help, her counsel, and her encouragement is where it should be--behind the scenes, and it is very much appreciated.
This is in direct contrast to some friends of a few years back Bob and Betty Brown. Bob was a fine fellow with wonderful prospects when he entered his first pastorate. He was friendly, alert, and a good preacher. Betty also had many talents, perhaps too many for Bob's success. In conversation Bob hardly got a word in edgewise. This would not have been an absolute deciding factor had the agressiveness remained outside the church board meetings and other gatherings where plans were laid and decisions made. It was all too evident on such occasions who was running the show. This was not good for Bob or for the church. A few years of this, and Bob took up other work. Had Betty let her husband be the rightful leader of the team the ending of the story might have been a happier one.
She takes an interest in my work. Helga Henry, no doubt, is an exception to the rule; at least I surely hope so. Helga works in an office in the city. You see, the Henrys have two children, one in college and the other in the academy. It is not always easy to help our boys and girls receive a Christian education these days on a preacher's salary. So Helga got a job in the city and probably makes as much money as Pastor Henry does.
I don't say it critically, but Helga doesn't take a great deal of interest in Hubert's pastoral program. How can she? There are meals to get, a house to clean, clothes to wash, and many other chores to attend to after a day at the office. Helga is tired when she gets home at six o'clock in the evening. She doesn't feel like making visits with Hubert. She hasn't time to help with the Sabbath school or the youth social. She almost lives in a world of her own, and Hubert does his best on his own. But it can't be his best when, because of circumstances, he has to fight most of the battles alone.
Long ago Elaine determined she was going to be a wife and a mother first and if time permitted other interests would be attended to in due course. She is capable of doing many other jobs, but I am happy that she wants to make our job first. She helps with the Dorcas Welfare program. She makes visits that are much more effective than if I had gone. She helps in many ways that contribute to the success of my work as a pastor.
She is careful what she says. More than one pastor's effectiveness has been nullified because a wife spoke ill-advisedly too frequently. We all make mistakes. We all let words slip that we wish desperately we could recall, but when it is too often, when it becomes a habit, then it is too bad.
I cannot remember a single time that Elaine has gotten me into hot water because she gossiped or spoke out of turn. I have never had to go and straighten out a complicated situation or act as a referee because she talked too much. For this I am most thankful!
She is careful of her example. I have sat on enough boards and committees through the years that I know how the conduct of the wife definitely influences the thinking and the decisions of the brethren. 1 can remember several times when a choice appointment almost went to a worker but the committee had second thoughts when they considered Mrs. Pastor's dresses, her makeup, her decorum, or some other phase of her example that might militate against the success of her husband's ministry.
I appreciate having a Christian wife with good taste, one who never embarrasses me with fashion or behavioral extremes. This means a lot when we live in an age that lays emphasis upon the outward adornment!
She is very kind and thoughtful in the home. I am thankful for a wife who manifests the same gracious thoughtfulness when we are at home alone as she does when we are in the presence of friends or attending public functions. Those magic words Please and Thank you, those words of appreciation, are just a part of her. This never fails to warm my heart and make her more precious to me.
I have known men--good men-- who carried a real cross because the mask of charm came off when the visitors left. Whining, peevishness, selfishness, or boorishness never built a happy home or made for a successful minister's career.
This, of course, is a two-way street. The husband can look for thoughtfulness and kindness only as he, the priest of the household, manifests a little more than his share of these indispensables!
She gives me some time to be alone. A minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church lives much of the time in a goldfish bowl. He is up in front at all public meetings and functions. If he is effective in his ministry he must be a leader. A leader is in the limelight a great deal of the time. He is with people almost continuously. Under such circumstances, every man must have some time to be alone. Before he speaks to men he must speak to God. He must listen to God speak to him. This communion is best experienced alone. He needs to be alone too, just to be alone to think, to plan, and to relax!
I appreciate Elaine's understanding. She makes those times to be alone possible sometimes at the expense of her own wishes and plans. This means a great deal. Here again we husbands have a role to play. We must not be household hermits. Our wives are confined within four walls much more than we are. They appreciate companionship. They enjoy conversation. They want to know what is going on. Let's not forget our part.
She prays for me. When I stand in the sacred desk to speak for God nothing encourages me more than to know that the one 1 love most on earth is sitting in the congregation praying for me. I know well her walk with God. For years I have seen the precious fruits of the gospel lived out before me in our home. There is no question in my mind but that when Elaine prays God hears. How comforting, how encouraging, how reassuring this is for any minister. I thank God for a wife who prays for me.
It is not easy to be a minister's wife. Of no other woman is so much expected. Perhaps no other woman is watched so carefully. Her every word and action seem to be under scrutiny. Husbands, these wives of ours need our help and our prayers. While they are giving their all to stand faithfully by our sides to make our ministry fruitful, let us in turn do all we can to make their role a happy and rewarding one.
Every day I thank God for Elaine. It means so much to me to have the home front secure!