Joys and sorrows. Your attitude generally makes a big difference as to whether you are happy or miserable.
I am one of those minsters' wives who always wanted to be a missionary. As a small child, I enjoyed Ingathering. I must admit that Ingathering is more challenging now, but it is still a great opportunity for spreading the Gospel. Once I get started, I hardly want to stop! I've always found a way to talk about the Bible to my schoolmates, even when I was a child and throughout my teenage years.
As a youth, I had a lot of difficulty making up my mind about a profession. During the sixties, there was heavy emphasis on the imminence of the Second Advent. I was sure I did not have the time to spend seven to ten years in a university like my colleagues were planning. I knew God had a special task for me. I was thrilled to preach in the Voice of Youth programs. I was on the Sabbath School and the Advent Youth executive committees. I was the Pathfinder director, a choir-member, an usher and much more. I enjoyed all my jobs. Had I been male, I probably would have been a minister. But back in those days, it was unheard of for a woman to register for theology at our Union college.
As a teenager, I never thought of marrying a minister. Yet, it happened. With no conniving or planning on my part, I did fall in love and marry a minister.
Though my main focus was on ministering, I used my talent of teaching and began a teaching career. I taught mathematics for ten years, then because of voice problems, began working in the research field. Though my husband's career has caused us to move from place to place, I have always found gainful employment. However, it should be noted that women who believe their careers should take precedence over their husbands' ministry are in for some trouble. Those women probably should not marry ministers! Ministry is a team effort; when it is not, it is not likely to succeed.
The greatest joy of our ministry has been service—working—for the Lord. Working with other shepherdesses has been enriching and rewarding. In one area where we resided for many years, eighty percent of the shepherdesses participated in club activities. We had such wonderful times. We became famous for conducting Family Life Seminars. We went on picnics, had surprise parties for the men, conducted children's Sabbath School workshops, taught cooking classes, the list goes on and on. What fun fellowship we had.
Our families were enriched as we shared our research on family life materials. Our children were involved in our activities—ushering, singing, distributing handouts. As a result, many of our children have grown up to be workers in God's church. My daughter, who is now a physician, shared that because of her past performance as Sabbath School superintendent, she was asked to be the superintendent at the regional Kings' Daughters celebrations. One of our sons is having thrilling experiences as a pastor and musician, while our other son is a part-time colporteur, church pianist and occasional preacher.
My greatest sorrow in ministry has been in negative encounters with other pastors' wives. Satan works overtime sowing seeds of doubt, criticism, jealousy, malice and backbiting among women. Once, when a minister was not re-elected to a position he had held for six years, he and his wife became very bitter. His wife, whom I had regarded as a close friend, withdrew herself from even conversing with me! I went out of my way to he kind to her. I sent her cards and letters letting her know I was thinking of her. After two months, I received a card from her saying she would pray for me. l understood she still needed space and though I was mystified as to why a minster's wife would become so bitter when her husband was not re-elected, I refused to become angry at her actions toward me.
Ministers and their wives need to be fully aware that no one is elected to an office for life, not in the church, not in the Senate, not as president of any corporation or democratic country. It is critical that we prepare ourselves and our children for the possibility of being moved to another office, another pastorate, another conference, another division or even from an office to a pastorate. if we realize that, we will be less likely to become discouraged, dissatisfied and disgruntled.
Though the joys of ministry certainly outweigh the sorrows, we, as pastors' wives, can make sure we are not the cause of sorrow in another's life. I look forward to the day when all in God's church are filled with the spirit of love, unity and sacrifice. Then we shall all have joy; there will be no sorrow in our service.