Shepherdess: Born to Serve

Daughters of the heavenly King may take their responsibilities no less seriously than do earthly princesses.

Bernice Gackenheimer is a minister's wife living in Collegedale, Tennessee.

Dear Shepherdess: When I was a child growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we had a neighbor who had many problems. She often came to my mother for comfort and solace.

I overheard their conversations occasionally and in my childish way wished to encourage her. When I saw her sitting on her porch I would open the front door to our house, sit down at the piano in the living room, and sing as lustily as I could the words brought to us in Mrs. Gackenheimer's article. I felt if dear Mrs. Hallgren could only understand that she was with child of the King she could tell her Father her troubles and be at peace—so I sang, "I'm a child of the King. " Whether she got the message or not I never knew, but in my young heart I knew. It was firmly imbedded in my heart. May you have the same experience.

"There is no comforter like Christ, so tender and so true. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. His spirit speaks to the heart. Circumstances may separate us from our friends; the broad, restless ocean may roll between us and them. Though their sincere friendship may still exist, they may be unable to demonstrate it. . . . But no circumstances, no distance, can separate us from the heavenly Comforter. Wherever we are, wherever we may go, He is always there, one given in Christ's place, to act in His stead. He is always at our right hand, to speak soothing, gentle words, to support, sustain, uphold, and cheer. "—That I May Know Him, p. 171. With love, Kay.

"A child of the King!/ With Jesus, my Saviour,/ I'm a child of the King!"

As I sang this song one morning the thought came to me, "A child of the King? That makes me a princess!" I was so excited that I could hardly wait to finish my work and put it down on paper.

But then I thought, "What am I doing sweeping and dusting if I am a princess? A princess lives in a fine house, wears lovely clothes, and even has a lady-in-waiting. A princess does what she pleases." But I remembered that princesses must also learn and work and serve. Perhaps their lives are more luxurious and exotic than yours and mine, but their lives are much more carefully scrutinized and bound about with obligations and responsibilities, as well. From childhood a princess is trained for her duties of service to her father's subjects and to her country. In fact, she is a public figure whose life is not her own. She is to be an example and an inspiration to every one of the king's people.

Is it not much the same with daughters of the heavenly King? If earthly princesses are born to serve, are not princesses of King Jesus? Surely a minister's wife should always remember that when her husband is invited by a conference to serve in its field she is a part of the team and is expected to serve the church in every way she can.

An earthly princess is brought up to represent properly her father's kingdom. It is necessary that she be willing to put the duties of her office and the needs of others before her own comfort and pleasure, and even when she is very weary she is expected to smile through it all. Representing our Father's kingdom as a princess is also a great privilege. But do we feel at times that our congregation is rather demanding and yet we are expected to be considerate of all and re main smiling? Do we feel that, since we are not personally on the payroll, it is not really our duty to put ourselves to the stretch and perform all the many "required" duties of the pastor's wife? Can we who are daughters of the King demand less of ourselves than an earthly princess?

Sometimes it is imperative for the minister's wife to work outside the home, making it physically impossible for her to do all the things she would like to do. But even so, it is attitude that counts—a willingness to help, a willingness to think of the pleasure and comfort of others, a willingness to serve where and when able.

An earthly princess is expected to be familiar with the business and management of the kingdom in order to be able to assist in the administration if necessary. College courses today acquaint young ministers' wives and prospective ministers' wives with the skills they will need in the parsonage. It is good for a minister's wife to know church policies and the inner workings of the organization; however, she must assist him, not take his place, in the task of guiding the church. Her willingness to share his concern for the problems that face him and to stand beside him as an able helper will "make his day," and incidentally also make his future.

An earthly princess is taught proper decorum both in the home and in public. This important part of her education makes the difference between a considerate and gracious leader and a selfish ruler. Thus she stands as an ideal for all to emulate.

Much to her dismay, the women of the congregation will often look to the minister's wife as an example and ideal, even at times keeping her on a pedestal. Why? Because we all need examples to inspire us to higher and holier living. And what better human example should they be able to find than the loving and gracious lady in the manse—the wife of the pastor?

In 1952, while Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, were on a world tour and were staying at the Tree Tops Hotel in Kenya, they received word that her father, King George VI, of England, had passed away. All their personal plans were laid aside, and they hurried home, for Elizabeth was now the queen of the British Empire. Some years later, while on mission service in the East African Union, we had the privilege of standing beside the plaque that told the story of this tragic event in the lives of these young people. Although not a British subject, I greatly admire this young woman and her ready acceptance of her responsibilities to her father's kingdom. "Lilibet" had been trained for this moment from earliest childhood be cause she was the first in line for the throne. On her twenty-first birthday Queen Elizabeth gave this message to the people of the British Common wealth: "My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family."

Are we, as King's daughters, as willing to serve the needs of our heavenly Father's subjects? Are we as ready to accept the responsibility to carry out His work? Can we lay aside our personal wishes and ambitions and work with our minister-husband for our heavenly King? Are we, as King's daughters, really representing our Father, or are we just singing about it?



Prayers from the parsonage

by Cherry B. Habenicht

While Dick is calculating our income tax I want to thank You, God, for each paper stacked in piles on our dining room table.

These statements of earnings prove that we have a dependable income. Unlike many who are called to work for You, my husband doesn't need to hold a secular job to support a part-time ministry. Neither does he have to rely on fluctuating offerings or members' pledges for his salary. I'm grateful that the tithe system guarantees equal pay, regardless of the congregation's money or the pastor's charisma.

Thank You for all the canceled checks showing that our bills have been paid. Although the account often has a slim balance, we have bought some niceties, as well as necessities.

This small bundle of receipts reminds me of the blessing of good health. I appreciate our adequate medical cover age, but I'm glad not to have to use it. Thank You for daily protection and Biblical guidelines for abundant life.

We are privileged to return part of our increase to You. But could we have given more? What if our contributions equaled the 50-percent deduction allowed by the IRS? In what unexpected ways would You provide for our needs if we dared to give that much?

Please multiply these tithes and offerings, using them to increase the church's outreach in the world. Show us how to spend "our" money wisely so it will always be a blessing.

I complain about sales tax, gasoline tax, State tax, and a national tax. In stead, help me to consider the advantages of living in this country, where we still take home a good percentage of our earnings. I'm grateful for each service our taxes support.

You have called us to a wonderful hope, to "the riches of ... [Your] glorious inheritance in the saints, and . . . [Your] incomparably great power for us who believe" (Eph. 1:18, 19, N.I.V.).* Such spiritual wealth! But we are blessed financially, too, and for this I thank You.

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Bernice Gackenheimer is a minister's wife living in Collegedale, Tennessee.

April 1980

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