Reflections of a Former Shepherdess President

Reflections on handling big responsibilities.

Christa Schiffbauer is a ministry wife who writes from Texas.

A few years ago when I was nominated as Shepherdess President for the wives of the Texico Conference, I knew I was taking on a big responsibility. I am naturally an introvert and do not like public speaking. I felt God wanted me to take the position in spite of this. God helped me find the courage to say "yes" to the position and assured me He'd help. The first thing I did was start hunting for articles that I could put in the Texico Teammates newsletter since that was part of the president's job in our conference. Our library has a good section of religious books, and I found that some of the Christian publishers would give permission to use their stories and wave the normal reprinting fee. Christian magazines had many good articles that they were willing to let me use also. I found that I needed to write about two months in advance to have permission to print the articles in the newsletter in time. A series of uncopyrighted religious cartoon books were available to use in news­letters from the local Christian bookstore compiled by George Knight. They added just the right touch of humor to the newsletter.

I changed the newsletter schedule from quarterly to bi-monthly. I felt that the ladies could use the extra encouragement and reminder that they are very important to the ministry. The pastors started taking notice of the newsletter their wives were getting and some would actually read them before their wives! I was very surprised at this! A team spirit began to grow among the pastors' wives. We began to have special speakers for the ladies at workers' meetings and craft sessions. It was fun to be able to share in a warm and friendly environment. In large districts, such as in our conference, we often feel alone and unimportant. Now that Shepherdess was becoming more active, we didn't feel so alone. The progress we made in reviving our club took us some time. Some discouraging moments came to me half-way through my two-year term. I had decided to try having a special speaker come during the campmeeting pre-session to talk to the ladies. I told the ladies about our special speaker in person and in the newsletters. When the time came for her talks, only ten ladies were there. I felt like I'd let her down and apologized to her for the small number of ladies at her meetings. She had given such good talks! The speaker told me to keep trying to have special things for the ladies and they would come. She helped encourage me when I felt like giving up. God knew she was just the right speaker to help me at campmeeting. More ladies than ever came to our next meetings, and I actually gave a small worship talk. Once more I felt God was helping me do what I thought was impossible for me.

In January I found that I was pregnant, and I wondered if I'd be able to continue on as Shepherdess President. I had such bad morning sickness it was hard to get out of bed! God provided just enough strength for me to make the Shepherdess newsletters. The Shepherdess ladies encouraged me through my time of sickness saying it shouldn't last the whole nine months, and after four months, God finally took my morning sickness away! I was so happy to feel good again! I'm sure God answered the pastors' wives prayers for me because my pregnancy has been quite normal from then on, and some women really are sick the whole nine months of their pregnancies!

As campmeeting time approached again, I began to get nervous about the Shepherdess elections. My two-year term would be up, and I knew I couldn't continue on as president. Would anyone show up for the election meeting? Would anyone be willing to take the presidency? Had I really helped the ladies develop a spirit of unity? Could our Shepherdess Club continue? My fears were for nothing. God answered my prayers for our Shepherdess Club in an amazing way. Many ladies came to the election meeting. They were willing to get involved in the Shepherdess Club. We were able to separate the presidency from the newsletter editor and add some field reporters to gather local church news for our newsletters. Now more ladies were involved with Shepherdess than ever before. God had worked everything out!

Now I was looking forward to our campmeeting workshop speaker, Sharon Cress, who was coming to speak to the Shepherdess ladies. My time as a leader would soon be over. A pleasant surprise awaited me before our speaker's arrival. After our Shepherdess elections, unbe­known to me, some of the ladies got together to plan a baby shower for me. We have always given gifts to the ladies having babies from the Shepherdess club. We hadn't been together at the right time to actually have a baby shower at campmeeting or a workers' meeting. At lunch, our new president, Cinda Lea Sitler told me of their plans to have a baby shower for me that night at 6:30 p.m.

I was amazed at the transfor­mation the ladies had made of the girls' dorm chapel in such a short time! A banner had been made saying, "Welcome Melissa Sue" as it looks like I'm having a girl and that's the name Dan and I have chosen. A chair was decorated with plastic teddy-bear streamers. Stuffed animals were in the front of the room. A table was decorated with a pretty paper tablecloth, shower umbrella, and teddy bear. Naturally there were treats to eat after the games and presents.

The ice-breaker game was one in which the ladies were given a roll of toilet paper and asked to take as many sheets as they thought they'd need. Some ladies took a lot of sheets and some only a few. For each sheet of paper taken, the lady had to tell something about herself. Some ladies said short and silly things and with all the laughter, the men outside the chapel wondered what we ladies were up to. Only one brave husband came into the shower to see what we ladies were doing, and he was rewarded with goodies to eat!

Another game we played was having two teams act out charades of different things a woman goes through with preparing for a baby such as decorating the baby's room, seeing the doctor, going into labor, etc. The winners of the charades were determined by who received the most clapping.

The last game was to see how fast a mother could pack a diaper bag from an assortment of items. Some of the items were for a baby, and others were not for a baby. A pastor's wife may need to accompany her husband with their baby on short notice, so speed was essential to this game.

After the games, the Shepherdess Club gave me a baby bathtub and a cute dress and romper outfit for the baby as a group gift, and others gave some additional gifts. We started the shower at 6:30 p.m. and didn't finish until about 8:00 p.m. It was a fun time to socialize and a great way to end my two-year term as Shepherdess President and newsletter editor. Thank you, Texico Teammates Shepherdess Club!