The Minister's Wife--Part of the Team

Learn to work from behind the scenes rather than taking the lead. Encourage the laymen to become leaders. I personally do not feel you should hold church offices. For one thing it ties you to one church and I believe you should serve all churches. Your husband was called to the district and I believe you were too. . .

-Ministerial and lay activities secretary of the Wisconsin Conference at the time this article was written

I BELIEVE ministers' wives are called to minister just as much as their husbands are called. Their calling and purpose are entirely different, but they certainly have a vital work.

You are a part of the ministerial team that God has called to do the work in your district.

We expect a lot from our ministers. They must be experts in so many things. They must be many things to many people. The burdens of the church rest upon them. But we also expect much from the wife, because she is the shepherdess, the example for the church ladies, the pastor's help meet.

Specifically, I'd like to share with you what one pastor has to say about how you as wives can help your minister-husbands in their influence and efficiency.

The minister's wile as a sweetheart, companion, and homemaker.

I put this first because I think it is your most important work. Every man needs love and encouragement. Men may be big and strong, but they need tender-loving care. They're made that way and God made woman able to supply that need.

There is so much unhappiness in our world. The minister continually deals with it. He hears heartbreaking stories all day as he tries to shepherd his flock. If he has an unhappy home life he can never do an effective work for God. He must find a shelter from the storm—a haven of rest filled with happiness.

So be a ray of joy to your husband. Meet him with a kiss as he comes home. Show him you really care for him. Be interested in what he has done. You can do no greater service to God than to help your husband relax and be happy when he is at home. But of course you must be an individual, and as an individual you must act your part. Notice the words that come from God concerning this:

"[The minister's wife] should have a united interest with him to do good. She should be willing to accompany her husband, if home cares do not hinder, and she should aid him in his efforts to save souls. With meekness and humility, yet with a noble self-reliance, she should have a leading influence upon minds around her, and should act her part and bear her cross and burden in meeting, and around the family altar, and in conversation at the fireside. The people expect this, and they have a right to expect it." — Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 452.

You must be willing to accept irregularities, because no other work is so varied. Time schedules are difficult to keep. There are so many things that can happen. Your husband may be planning all day to be home by six o'clock for supper, but he may not make it until seven o'clock. He may be struggling with a problem. Try to keep his food as tasty as possible, and don't get angry or frustrated because he didn't make it on time.

If you have your meals at a regular hour and he is late most of the time, then he has a problem in his planning, but your getting angry usually won't help.

Don't grumble if the telephone rings at 2:00 A.M. He can't help this any more than you can. We must be on call day or night, and very few will call unless they really need help.

Don't lose your religion if vacation is delayed because of an unexpected funeral. Your husband is vitally important at that time and you can also be important to some.

Whether your home be old or new, large or small—keep it clean. An untidy home can destroy the minister's influence. I am not talking of little ones' toys that may be spread out around the family room. That is a sign of a happy family. I'm talking about a dirty home. We should never be ashamed to have guests drop in and we should make them feel that they are welcome and that we care about them.

Keep your family neatly dressed. Our outward appearance is important. Some men won't notice their shortcomings here. They won't notice they need a new suit or that their shirts need replacing. But you should notice this and help them to dress properly.

Your own appearance is vital, sometimes more important than his. Dress modestly, please! Mini-skirts were not invented for ministers' wives—nor other Christian women either, for that matter. But your appearance is more important than that of others because you are to be an example to the women in your church.

Learn to prepare a simple meal quickly. Not a seven-course banquet, but something nourishing and simple. And be willing to prepare quickly for guests. Some wives get all upset about unexpected company, but ministers' wives must not. Prepare a simple meal quickly and don't be embarrassed because it is not fancy. (Most people enjoy simple meals much more than the fancy ones.)

Those of you who have small children, or have other reasons that make it necessary for you to stay at home, so that you are not able to go with your husband, must take courage from these words:

"If married men go into the work, leaving their wives to care for the children at home, the wife and mother is doing fully as great and important a work as is the husband and father. While one is in the missionary field, the other is a home missionary."— Gospel Workers, p. 203.

Well, so much for the part of homemaker, but it is an important thing to make a happy home for your husband and to be a real sweetheart and companion.

The minister's wife as a helpmeet at home.

There are several ways you can help with the church work while at home.

I believe the wife should always answer the telephone unless, of course, both are relaxing. This will guard against unnecessary interruptions, especially during husband's study time. Guard his time against time wasters. Don't let a call through unless it seems important.

Tell callers the pastor will call back later if you cannot answer their question. Some will call and ask for the pastor, and then ask him for someone's telephone number or which dentist he would recommend. Protect him against these foolish interruptions. Be kind and tactful, but also wise.

Be willing to stop what you are doing to help your husband in his work (that is, within reason).

Be willing to do some research or filing, some extra reading and clipping, or gathering of back ground material for sermons, and then be happy even if he doesn't use it. He may have gained valuable background from it. Of course, some men may not want this kind of help at all.

Always be positive about God's work. Talk courage to your husband. Speak constantly of greater blessings to come. Take time for your own spiritual growth so you can have a strong faith to bring courage to your husband in his work.

"I saw that the wives of ministers should help their husbands in their labors and be exact and careful what influence they exert, for they are watched, and more is expected of them than of others. . . . Their lives and conversation should be an example, savoring of life rather than of death. . . . He [God] wants the whole heart and interest, or He will have none. Their influence tells, decidedly, unmistakably, in favor of the truth or against it. They gather with Jesus, or scatter abroad. An unsanctified wife is the greatest curse that a minister can have."— Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 139.

The minister's wife as a helpmeet at the church.

Learn to work from behind the scenes rather than taking the lead. Encourage the laymen to become leaders. I personally do not feel you should hold church offices. For one thing it ties you to one church and I believe you should serve all churches. Your husband was called to the district and I believe you were too.

Know the members in all of your churches and watch carefully for visitors. Get their names and introduce them to members. Take their children to their Sabbath school divisions.

Don't try to be assistant pastor. Your members will resent this. Refer pastoral responsibilities to the pastor. Members will have more respect for you.

Be willing to make some church calls. Especially on:

a. Mothers with new babies.

b. Elderly in nursing homes.

c. Any contact where a woman's touch is needed.

Support every church program with your faithful attendance. Again, small children must be considered, but don't stay home always because of them. We expect others with families to attend.

Let me close with this choice statement: "If they [ministers' wives] would only lean confidingly in childlike trust, upon God, and have their affections centered in Jesus . . . what an amount of good they might do, what a help they might be to others, what a support to their husbands, and what a reward would be theirs in the end!"— Ibid., p. 453.


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-Ministerial and lay activities secretary of the Wisconsin Conference at the time this article was written

November 1973

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