There is no counsel that I reject more than the one given by someone who talks the talk but doesn't walk the talk. Therefore the best counsel is the one received by someone that talks the talk and with action walks the walk. I am not perfect, far from it, but as an elder's wife and pastor's daughter, I would like to share with you what I think we need to be for us, for our husbands, our children, our church and our community.
Biblically or theologically speaking there is no difference between the minister or pastor and the elder of a church. The church made the distinction. So in reality, whatever applies to one applies to the other.
To be on the cutting edge in today's world, you have to have an edge to cut. The edge to cut is goal setting. Decide what is important in your personal life, family and in your ministry as an elder's wife. Write it down on an index card and read it often out loud. Then it will be the desire of your heart. Once it is in your heart, you will talk about it, and act accordingly.
The only one we can control best is ourselves, so let us start by controlling our attitude and temper. Develop a winning attitude and a sweet disposition. Strive to be the woman of Proverbs 31. How do we do that? As Christian women we should live a prayerful life, keeping our souls in the love of God, and having constant connection with our Maker by studying His Word. We also should hold the reins of our tongue. "The mouth of the righteous man [woman] utters wisdom, and his [her] tongue speaks what is just" Proverbs 37:30.
We have a tremendous influence on the people that surround us; at home we should be the thermometers that keep the tempers and emotions happy and stable. At church we should be the ones that extend our hand to welcome a visitor, talk to a teenager, hug a child, smile to a regular member. As an elder's wife we need to think outside the box and find ways in which we can love and care for one another. In order to be able to love and care for others, we need to have a daily relationship with God. The love of God will be reflected on our faces, then we'll be able to impact people in a positive way; that is true success.
In Proverbs 18:21 it says: "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." It is imperative that we learn to control the words that we speak. Speaking words of praise and encouragement will enhance our husband's influence in his ministry.
It would be well if every elder's wife examines her conversations by asking herself these questions: Is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable? If the answer is yes, do talk about these things.
I'll paraphrase and apply to women what Paul said that elder's should be, in chapter one of the book of Titus. Let's ask ourselves: Am I well thought of? Are my children believers? Do they respect me and stay out of trouble? It is important that a church leader's wife be responsible for the affairs of God's house, be looked up to not pushy, not short-tempered, not given to vices, not bossy, not moneyhungry. I must be hospitable, helpful, wise, fair, and reverent, have self-control, and have good knowledge of God's Word, knowing how to use the truth to either spur people on in knowledge or stop them if they oppose it.
Saturday afternoon was a delightful time while I was growing up. My father is the kind of pastor that visits the members of his church for many different reasons. Maybe they had not been in church for some time; maybe they were sick, or discouraged and needed a word of prayer. Some other times we would give Bible studies. The fun was that my father took the whole family on these outings. Today my father is retired from his pastoral position, but continues as an elder of the local church. He and my mother are doing the same things they did before, with the exception that their children are grown and don't accompany them anymore.
What an example they have been! It seems to me they are doing what Ellen G. White wrote, stating: "If a minister's wife accompanies her husband in his travels, she should not go for her own special enjoyment, to visit and to be waited upon, but to labor with him. She 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. If these expectations are not realized, the husband's influence is more than half destroyed. The wife of a minister [elder] can do much if she will. If she possesses the spirit of selfsacrifice and has a love for souls, she can with him do almost an equal amount of good" Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 452.
"Let the minister's wife [elder's wife] who has children remember that in her home she has a missionary field in which she should labor with untiring energy and unflagging zeal, knowing that the results of her work will endure throughout eternity. Are not the souls of her children of as much value as the souls of the heathen? Then let her tend them with loving care. She is charged with the responsibility of showing to the world the power and excellence of home religion. She is to be controlled by principle, not by impulse, and she is to work with the consciousness that God is her helper. She is to allow nothing to divert her from her mission" Evangelism, p. 676.
"The minister's wife [elder's wife] may be a great help to her husband in seeking to lighten his burden, if she keeps her own soul in the love of God. She can teach the Word to her children. She can manage her own household with economy and discretion. United with her husband, she can educate her children in habits of economy, teaching them to restrict their wants" Gospel Workers, p. 203.
A beautiful promise is made to the wife that is devoted to God in helping her husband: ". . . Their reward will be equal to that bestowed on the husband." Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 451.
Someone said of Mother Teresa that she was free to be nothing; therefore, God could use her for anything. So I write to my fellow sisters in Christ, let's be nothing in the world's eyes, so God can use us to do mighty works for His honor and glory.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" Joshua 1:9. E
Gladys B. Ribs writes from Laurel, MD. She is the editorial assistant for Elder's Digest.