A special honor

Four suggestions that will make being a pastor's wife a joy and pleasure.

Mildred J. White serves at the side of her husband, who has interrupted his retirement to be pastor of the Adventist church in Bellingham, Washington.

Doug sat holding Jeannie's hand as he shared their plans for marriage and the pastoral ministry. My husband and I had known him ever since he was a junior in one of our churches. As the four of us visited that evening, my husband offered counsel and courage for the young couple.

During a pause in the conversation, Doug turned to me and said, "Mrs. White, one reason we came tonight was to get some insights into the life of a pastor's wife. Jeannie feels a little uneasy about her future role."

She nodded, her long blond hair framing an earnest face. "So many people tell me I'm facing a difficult task. I need some practical advice."

Her plea for help reminded me of the uncertainty I once had. I told her about it, then added, "I have four suggestions that will make being a pastor's wife a joy and pleasure.

"First, saturate yourself in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy. Read some thing from each every day. On busy days it may be only one or two Bible verses and one paragraph from your favorite inspired book, but other days you can read a chapter or two. I've read the Bible through many times, using various versions. I keep a notebook handy and jot down any texts that impress me, in order to memorize them. On another page I write short quotations from my Spirit of Prophecy book. These form my focus for the day. Sometimes the verses and quotations are so precious I'll ponder them for several days.

"A natural result of this study is to lift my heart in prayer. So on another page in my notebook I write my prayer requests with a promise beside it. The Lord has used this method to help fulfill His promise 'You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You' (Isa. 26:3).*

"Second, love the pastor. A young minister's wife was once asked what she loved most about being a pastor's wife. She answered without hesitation, 'The pastor!" Doug and Jeannie chuckled at that, looking at each other as if to say "That's too easy!"

"I know what you're thinking," I said, laughing with them, "but some times what seems so easy can be difficult. Pressures in the ministry can build up, and sometimes it seems that the pastor has time for everyone except his wife and family. Remember, Jeannie, no matter how busy Doug gets, assure him of your love and support. Then, too, you may find that Doug has some habit that is irritating to you. One minister's wife complained that her husband was always tugging on his trousers as he stood to preach. Real love and a little humor cover a multitude of such irritations and weaknesses. Let Doug know that you feel it's an honor and privilege to be known as 'the pastor's wife.' That label can be very special to you.

"Third, be friendly. As the first lady of the church, Jeannie, all your members will appreciate a smile and greeting from you. Be ready to give it. A lot of hurting people come to church each Sabbath. A smile and friendly greeting from you will do much to encourage them. Recently I visited a church that we had pastored several years ago. An elderly man who had been a greeter there for many years welcomed me warmly, then unburdened his heart.

" 'The new pastor's wife hates me,' he said, his eyes filling with tears.

" 'Whatever makes you think that?' I asked in disbelief.

" 'Well, she comes through that door every Sabbath morning and never looks at me and never speaks to me.'

"'I'm sure she doesn't hate you,' I said sympathetically. 'She must be preoccupied and doesn't realize she is walking past you.' I tried desperately to think of some excuse for her behavior, but he would have none of it.

" 'No,' he said, 'every Sabbath is the same. She brushes by without a word.' I could see he was deeply hurt. Being friendly seems like such a little thing, and yet when it is missing it can hurt so much.

"Finally, be a good listener. Often we don't have a solution to the problems or sorrows that members are facing--but we can listen with our hearts. A letter came today from a single mother thanking me for helping her with some over whelming problems. I didn't really have answers, but I listened and pointed her to Him who had the answer. I also shared some of His promises to cling to. The Lord will give 'a word in season to him who is weary' (Isa. 50:4).

"Well, Jeannie," I concluded, "that's my advice. If you follow these simple guidelines, you' 11 experience much peace and joy as a pastor's wife."

"I'm so glad we came," Jeannie ex claimed as she and Doug rose to leave. "Whenever I've been telling my friends that I'm going to marry a minister, they all say they feel sorry for me. Now I know it will be a privilege and an honor to stand at my husband's side." Her face was beaming as she slipped her arm through Doug's and said, "I'll always love my pastor."

* All texts in this article are from the New King James Version.

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Mildred J. White serves at the side of her husband, who has interrupted his retirement to be pastor of the Adventist church in Bellingham, Washington.

February 1993

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