Sharon Cress General Conference, Shepherdess and Pastoral Families

The apostle Paul is one of my favorite biblical authors because so much of his writing is so relevant to our lives today. In 1 Corinthians 3:9, Paul gives us both an admonition and a promise when he says, "We are laborers together with God." I believe this text can be specifically applied to you and me as the spouse of a church leader in several ways.

1. Sometimes, as the spouse of a church leader, we need to remind ourselves that we, too, are "laborers" in ministry. We are not just the immobile half of a marriage to a leader, standing in the background waiting for them to serve out their elected position. Although we are not obligated to serve the church because our spouses have chosen to serve an elected responsibility, we are obligated to serve the church because we love God. This is so important to remember. We do not actively serve because we love the church or love our spouse.

We are all gifted by God and privileged to use the talents to His glory simply because we love Jesus. This must be our only motivation. If this is not our reason to serve, we are walking down a path that has the potential to lead us into bitterness, resentment, and a load too heavy for us to carry.

2. We must remember we are in this together with the Lord. This is the promise part. God has not asked us to bear the workload without Him. He really does not want us working on our own without His presence and guidance. He desires that He work with and through us.

I don't much like dusting our house, and it seems like a full-time job to stay ahead of it. I could look at my dust mitt and demand that it dust the house all by itself without my presence, but not a lot would be accomplished; probably the only place that would be dust-free is where the mitt is lying. But by putting my hand into the glove, I can be accomplish a lot. The lesson: We need God to be inside everything we do. Then and only then will it be done to His priorities and accomplished in His way.

3. Paul knew the importance of earthly friendships. In his writings, he consistently remembered his friends who were church leaders and kept in contact with them. They prayed for each other. They supported each other.

North of San Francisco, California, are the beautiful Muir Woods. Great coastal redwoods tower high toward heaven and make a natural cathedral of trees. Many of these trees are more than 1,000 years old. But you don't find them growing in isolation —they are clustered together and actually hold each other up. Most of their roots are entangled, and this network provides them with support during raging storms. This is why they have survived so many years—they have clung together for strength during the bad times. As spouses of leaders, we need to uphold each other; support each other, and pray for each other.

Let's again remember in a new way that "we are laborers together with God."

Sharon Cress
General Conference, Shepherdess and Pastoral Families