Friday’s Reflection for the Preacher’s Wife: An Oxymoron

Sometimes life as a preacher’s wife feel’s like an oxymoron. (Please don’t leave out the oxy.)  How so, you ask?  On one hand, the opportunities for meeting new people and making friends can be greatly multiplied because of being a preacher’s wife.  The preacher and his family may experience living in a variety of places.  Sometimes they get to attend lectureships and meet lots of people.  They have opportunities to have people from near and far in their home.  Over the years, our family has met a lot of people, many of whom we could say are not mere acquaintances, but individuals who have become true friends – friends that we know we could lean on in times of distress.

On the other hand, people often assume that preacher and his family have many *close* friends.  More often than not, such is not the case.  In fact, the complete opposite is more likely to be true.  Many preachers’ wives actually feel very lonely and have few true, close friends, particularly in the congregation at which they are members. Why is that so? There are various reasons.

  • Developing close friendships in the local congregation can create jealousy in some of the other women who are not included in that close relationship. It is natural to feel closer to some people than others, due to common interests, age, etc., but showing partiality or favoritism is asking for trouble.  Immature Christian women have been known to try draw the preacher’s wife into their click, or will attempt to manipulate her so that she will take “their” side in a controversy.
  • The preacher’s wife is sometimes looked at through a magnifying glass, also known as the glass house syndrome.  Whether it be how she dresses, how she keeps her house, how she trains her children, it seems there is always some one who is not satisfied.  One can hardly let down their guard if she feels she is constantly being scrutinized.
  • Sometimes people are intimidated by the preacher and his wife.  They place the preacher and his wife on a tall pedestal, as if they have perfected life and how to live it.  They fail to realize that we are normal (okay, maybe not) regular, ol’ human beings, who have the same struggles as other folks.  We don’t have it figured out all of the time!  Could it be possible, though, that we are to blame for that, in part, anyway?  Do we present ourselves as “always having it all together” instead of allowing people a glimpse into our hearts, allowing them to see some of our own struggles and  challenges in life?  Perhaps it is a subconscious defense mechanism, so that we don’t get hurt, but nevertheless, it’s something to think about.

These are just a few reasons why it may be difficult for a preacher’s wife to have close friends. I’m sure there are others.

If you, as a preacher’s wife, struggle with loneliness, then look outside of your immediate circle and look for a fellow preacher’s wife who can understand some of  your struggles.  I would caution you, however – if you and another preacher’s wife develop a close friendship, don’t use your time together to vent about the *issues* in your  respective congregations. Searching for a biblical solution to a problem is one thing, but venting for the mere sake of “getting something off your chest” is neither a godly approach to dealing with frustrations, nor is it mentally healthy. That is true for everyone, preachers’ wives or not.

If you are an older preacher’s wife, perhaps you know of a younger preacher’s wife who could use some encouragement. Oh, she may not tell you that she does, but everyone needs some encouragement now and then. Send her a note, buy her a little gift just to say “I know what it’s like.”  If you are not a preacher’s wife, give some thought about what it might be like to walk in *her* shoes, and show your appreciation for all the work that she does behind the scenes.

Preachers’ wives do have some unique struggles because they are married to Mr. Preacher. But I think we need to remind ourselves frequently of the BLESSINGS that come from being the wife of a preacher. We DO have friends all around the world.  As husband and wife, I believe we share life in a deeper, more meaningful way than do many couples. We work together as a team, he as the leader and me, as his helpmeet. Together, we share both the joys and the sorrows of our fellow Christians. Together, we live for heaven. In my opinion, these blessings far outweigh any burdens.

February 3rd, 2012|Categories: The Preacher's Wife|Tags: |3 Comments

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Friday’s Reflection for the Preacher’s Wife: Be Our Guest

If you’ve watched the movie Beauty and the Beast, then you will probably remember the catchy song “Be Our Guest”.  In that song the silverware, along with all of the other implements used for serving a fine meal, were so excited because after not being used for 10 years, they finally had an occasion to put themselves to use.

Part of the lyrics go like this:

Life is so unnerving                
For a servant who’s not serving                
He’s not whole without a soul to wait upon
Ah, those good old days when we were useful                
Suddenly those good old days are gone                
Ten years we’ve been rusting                
Needing so much more than dusting                
Needing exercise, a chance to use our skills                
Most days we just lay around the castle                
Flabby, fat and lazy                
You walked in and oops-a-daisy!

The serving pieces go on to sing:

Be our guest                
Be our guest                
Our command is your request                
It’s ten years since we had anybody here                
And we’re obsessed                
With your meal                
With your ease                
Yes, indeed, we aim to please                
While the candlelight’s still glowing                
Let us help you                
We’ll keep going.

While we hardly need Disney to teach us about hospitality, we can learn something from this song.  The servicing pieces were overjoyed at the opportunity to put themselves to use.  Not only was their purpose to serve others, but it’s what they wanted to do; it was natural. Serving others also brought them happiness.

As preachers’ wives, we will have many opportunities to practice the art of hospitality. The sooner we appreciate the joy and the blessings that come with hospitality, the better we will be for it. What exactly is “hospitality”?  Although the exact word is only used a few times, the concept permeates the Scriptures.  To sum it up, hospitality is receiving guests, both strangers and those whom we know.  It may include a meal, but not necessarily.  It means being willing to providing lodging, if such is needed. Sometimes it might be elaborate; often it can be simple.  It means investing yourself –  your time, your possessions, your energy, and your care in other people.  Sometimes it means getting out of your comfort zone.

We can learn a few things about hospitality by studying an incident in the life of Abraham.  In Genesis 18:1-16 we read of the account of 3 men who traveled, not so incidentally, near the vicinity of Abraham’s dwelling place.

When Abraham saw the strangers, he ran to meet them.  He didn’t sit back and wait for them to show up at his tent, but he went to them. Not only that, Abraham begged them to stop and stay for a while. He was eager for them to visit.  (Remember – at this point Abraham did not know who these men were; he thought they were simply travelers passing his way. It wasn’t until later that Abraham realized that these were more than mere men.) Abraham sincerely acted as if it would do him a great honor for these guests to come home with him. What is our attitude towards receiving guests into our homes? Do we look for opportunities?  When we do invite someone over, how do we come across? Do we offer a half-hearted invitation, or are we persuasive and genuine?

Next, Abraham took care of the immediate need for refreshment by washing their feet and having them rest in the shade.  He made sure they were comfortable. Like Abraham, we need to be observant and try to ascertain the needs of our guests without them having to ask.  One of the most important skills of a host/hostess is the ability to help our guests feel comfortable in our home.  There is nothing so awkward as being invited to someone’s house and feeling uptight and tense the whole time you are there and you can’t wait until time to leave. You don’t have to have fine china and you don’t have to have a seven-course meal, but you do need to be able to make your guests feel at ease in your home.

Abraham and Sarah provided a nourishment for their guests.  There was no such thing as a quick stop through a drive-through.  When one traveled long distances it was very necessary to rely on the hospitality of strangers to provide nourishment and a place to rest.  This concept has hit home to me more than ever since living in Africa.  It is the same way, in many respects, as it was in Bible times, especially when one travels away from the bigger towns and into the bush country.

Abraham and Sarah did not have the benefit of knowing ahead of time that they would have guests that day, but when the guests came, Abraham and Sarah got to work and put together a fine meal.  With the conveniences we have at our disposal today, there is really no excuse for not being able to pull together a quick meal at a moment’s notice.  If it is not around meal time,  it is still always a polite gesture to offer some sort of refreshment to folks that come your way.  Keeping a loaf of banana bread, some cookie dough, or some other goodies in the freezer will make it possible to show hospitality at a moment’s notice, day or night.  Even the poorest of people here in Tanzania make great effort to show hospitality, even if they were not expecting visitors.  They may simply offer a soda, or perhaps  a cup of tea and a mandazi (a fried pastry), or whatever  else they may have on hand, but most of the time, they are insistent that you stay and partake of something.

When it was time for his guests to be on their way, Abraham did not simple say a goodbye at the door, but he walked with them for a ways. Here in Tanzania, it is a customary and polite gesture to walk with your guests at least out to the gate, or if they are on foot, to accompany them down the road a ways. This is particularly true if you wish to let them know that you welcome them to come back again.  Yes, I know there are some guests that do wear out their welcome.  Even so, instead of rushing our guests out the door and closing it as soon as they step over the threshold, how about walking them out to the car and expressing your gratitude to them for coming?

The ways that we demonstrate hospitality can be quite varied, depending upon the need and the circumstance.  Do we always have to serve a full meal in order to be hospitable?  Of course not!  But the bottom line is… we must be willing to open our homes to others.  If you aren’t very comfortable at it, then work on it.  Ask someone for help.  With the help of your local library or a few clicks on the internet, you can discover all sorts of resources that offer tips and tricks that will build your hospitality skills.

Sometimes congregations expect the preacher’s wife or elders’ wives to orchestrate or even do most of the hospitality *for* the congregation. While we should be very willing to do our part, we cannot do it *for* or *in place of* other people, any more than we can obey any of the other commands of God.  We need to encourage others to show hospitality so that they, too, can enjoy the blessings that come from it.

Here is a challenge: 

This coming Sunday, plan to have guests come to your home for a meal – either for the noon meal or for an evening meal.  When you go to worship Sunday, look for a stranger – not your best friends, but people who are either visiting or that you do not know well. Compel them to come home with you.  They need to know that you mean it! If they turn you down, keep on trying until you find someone who will come (best friends not included).  If Sunday just won’t work for you, then pick an evening during the week. And please, let me know how it goes!

January 27th, 2012|Categories: The Preacher's Wife|Tags: |1 Comment

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Liebster Award

So…two very kind and generous bloggers….Walking with God and  Purposefully at Home …. have nominated me for a “Liebster Award” (no, not lobster, ha!). Thank you, Randal and Marli, for thinking of me!

In German, Liebe means love.
The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming blogs who have less than 200 followers.
Liebster is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely,
kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The Rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all…have fun!!

Now for my picks:

Pardon me, though, because my little circle of blog friends is…well….little.  So for some of these it will probably be a repeat.

Julia at Pressing toward the Goal

Debbie at Maries Simple Life

Lydia at A Glad Heart

Amy at Why Amy Smiles

Linz at Life With Linz

There you go!  Have fun with it. 🙂

 

January 23rd, 2012|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |0 Comments

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Friday’s Reflection for the Preacher’s Wife: Hospitality

Growing up in a preacher’s family afforded me some blessings that were priceless.  Some of my most vivid memories as a child have to do with those times when gospel preachers, as well as others, would visit in our home, sit around our cramped dining room table, and enjoying my mom’s good cooking.  In fact, when I was quite young (and maybe not so young) I remember sneaking out of my bedroom when I was supposed to be in bed, creeping as closely as I could to the room that everyone was in, staying up late talking, visiting, and laughing until they cried.  I didn’t want to miss any of the good times! You’d hardly believe the carrying on unless you were a first-hand witness! Isn’t it true that you really don’t get to know people until you have them in your home and you can sit down and enjoy a meal together and fellowship with one another on a more personal level?

One of the qualifications of an elder, who must have a wife, is to be hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2). I think it goes without saying that his wife is expected to be hospitable, as well.  It’s interesting to me that there are no biblical qualifications set forth specifically for the preacher’s wife.  God desires all Christian women be hospitable.  In 1 Timothy 5, Paul gives some instructions to Timothy regarding widows.  A widow, in order to be supported by the church, should have a track record, so to speak, of service to others.  Paul told Timothy “Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work” (1 Timothy 5:9,10).  In other words, if she is a widow over age 60 and she has no other family to care for her, support from the church is still dependent upon whether or not she has demonstrated a life of service to others, including hospitality.  That includes elders’ wives, deacons’ wives, preachers’ wives, and every other woman in the church.

You know the cliche’:  ABILITY + OPPORTUNITY = RESPONSIBILITY.  The reality is that each of us has the responsibility to show hospitality.  It’s up to us to improve our ability and take advantage of the opportunities, and there are opportunities all around us.  That being said, it is also true that as the preacher’s wife, we often have more opportunities to show hospitality to others.  Sometimes this is due to the fact that we are made aware of opportunities earlier than others. Additionally, we may find ourselves in a congregation where very few people are actively involved.  The reasons may be quite varied – some may be elderly and it takes what little energy they have just to get to services. Others may not know any better.  If they’ve not grown up in a home that practices hospitality, then it can be very intimidating and uncomfortable.  It’s amazing to me how many people have not had the benefit of growing up in a home in which guests were invited in.  This even includes preachers’ wives!

One thing that preachers’ wives must guard against is  thinking we have to do everything ourselves.  If we are not careful, we can rob other people of the joy of hospitality.  Instead of taking on all of the work ourselves, think of ways you can include other women of the congregation.  Sometimes people are willing, but they just don’t know what to do or how to do it.  Help other women, especially young women who may not have had good role models in their mothers.  Teach them some practical tips that will make it less stressful to show hospitality to others.

What people often don’t realize is that the ones showing the hospitality are often the ones who come away feeling blessed. If my mother had not been hospitable, our family would not have had the opportunity to get to know many wonderful people.  Those personal times with people serve to create bonds with one another that simply could not be created otherwise. Just think of what Mary and Martha would have missed had they not shown hospitality to our Lord. What if Prisca and Aquila failed to show hospitality to Paul?

Next week I’d like to discuss some practical aspects of hospitality.  What is it, exactly, and how can we go about it without getting stressed. Do you have any tips to share?

January 20th, 2012|Categories: The Preacher's Wife|Tags: |6 Comments

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