By Donna Gaines
We have all added words to our vocabulary recently. Words like: quarantine, masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing, COVID-19 and “safer at home” mandates. These are all words and concepts that only three months ago, none of us were using. That was before we became part of a worldwide pandemic.
As ministers’ wives, much of the time we are called upon to minister to people in the midst of crisis. What keeps you going when the going is toughest? Where do you find the wisdom and strength to meet the demands of ministry in the midst of a worldwide pandemic?
Most of us did not attend seminary. Many of us worked full-time while our husbands went to school and worked part-time. Although our seminaries offer excellent classes to help prepare seminary wives for their upcoming position, a class can never train us in all the varied roles churches anticipate we will fill. Nor can they fully prepare us for the difficult roads we will have to walk with those to whom we minister.
In our first pastorate, I found myself sitting with a couple whose son was found dead. Waiting with them for the coroner to arrive, we wept together and prayed. The only One who can grant wisdom and strength in those dire moments is Jesus.
In Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested for healing a lame man and preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus. When the two disciples were ushered in to appear before the scribes and high priests, those accomplished religious officials were amazed at Peter and John’s confidence since they were uneducated and untrained. Astonished by what they saw and heard, they began to recognize them as having been with Jesus (Acts 4:13, NASB).
These two fishermen, like most pastors’ wives, had not received any formal instruction, but their time with Jesus had fully prepared them for the work they were called to do. Likewise, the only way we will be equipped to minister alongside our husbands is to make time with Christ our top priority.
Our only hope and our greatest pleasure comes from spending time with Jesus, allowing His words to become our joy and the delight of our hearts (Jeremiah 15:16). Jesus alone satisfies, grants purpose, and fills us with joy.
He is the One who sustains us when the shrill ring of the phone in the middle of the night brings news of a death, a horrific car accident, another life cut short. He is the One who gives us the words to say to a couple who have just received a terminal prognosis from the doctor and need to tell their children.
He is our Abba when our marriage is hemorrhaging or our children are rebelling. He gives us words of wisdom when our husbands are teetering on the brink of persevering in the pastorate or resigning from the ministry altogether. On those difficult and challenging days, where do we go and what do we do? We run to Jesus!
I am convinced that one of the enemy’s primary tactics is to keep us away from our time with the Lord. With ruthless intentionality and determination we must spend time every day in God’s Word, in prayer, and in building spiritual disciplines into our lives. As we spend time with Him, we learn to hear His voice. As you read God’s Word and study it, seeking Him in its pages, He will reveal Himself to you. There can be no compromise in these areas!
Another maneuver the enemy uses is to convince us that we can’t have friends in the ministry. Loneliness leads to despair. God created us for relationship in community. If the enemy can isolate us, often he can defeat us.
Several years ago, I became disturbed by the number of ministers’ wives who were leaving the ministry, many of them abandoning their husbands as well. After praying about the pressure and loneliness that so many women in ministry face, I sought wisdom from several fellow pastors’ wives.
We decided to provide a place of encouragement and connection by creating a Pastors’ Wives Session during the Pastor’s Conference at the Southern Baptist Convention. I will miss gathering this June but will look forward with great anticipation to next year.
Don’t run the race alone. Join hands and hearts with other ministers’ wives. One way you can connect is through a ministry that was birthed out of our Monday morning session led by Diane Nix — www.ContagiousJoy4Him.com. You can join an online community, attend a Refresh Retreat and receive encouraging e-mails.
Together, we can stand firm against the schemes of the enemy and be encouraged to stay faithful to Christ. Be known as a woman who has been with Jesus. Choose to not just stay in the race, but to run with all your might for the finish line. Run to win! B&R — Gaines is the wife of Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.