As I sat and listened to Charge at an ordination service recently, I could not help but think why and how this Charge affects each of us as pastoral wives. It is very appropriate and important that pastoral wives be present as their husbands are being ordained to the gospel ministry. Wives play a very important role in the life of the minister as a helpmeet. It is the wife who shares in the joys and sorrows of the minister. The importance of her presence during this sobering service is so she may listen to the Charge and witness the commitments that her husband is making. These commitments will be made on behalf of the whole pastoral family.
The Ordination Charge has several aspects which make it especially meaningful to the shepherdess. Genesis 2,18 says, "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." What does this word helpmeet really mean in our relationship as husband and wife? The helpmeet was to be appropriate for man's needs and complement him. No companion could be found for Adam among the animals. It had to be one of his own kind. In God's plan since creation of Eve, the wife is therefore a helpmeet to compliment the man. Ellen White comments: "Man was not made to dwell in solitude; he was to be a social being. Without companionship, the beautiful scenes and delightful employments of Eden would have failed to yield perfect happiness. Even communion with angels could not have satisfied his desire for sympathy and companionship. There was none of the same to love and to be loved" (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46). God ordained that first marriage in the Garden of Eden.
After taking the rib from Adam to create Eve, Adam declared his love for Eve: "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man" (Genesis 2:23). And God, to end the marriage ceremony, commands in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
This makes our role in carrying out the Ordination Charge even more sobering. Woman was to be man's helpmeet; the shepherd ess is therefore the shepherd's helpmeet in carrying out the first command in the Charge: "O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word of my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, 0 wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will require at thine hand" (Eze. 33:7-11). The shepherdess is equally an helpmeet in carrying out the message in 2 Corinthians 5:20.
The charge in 2 Corinthians 6:1-4, which is one of the commands in the Charge, is equally a challenge to the shepherdess. Verse three of 2 Corthinians reads: "Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed." The pastoral family should be an example for the church and an example of ministry in practice, behavior, dress, and conversation. The family of the pastor should conform to biblical principles and not be a slave to earthly lusts. The key figure in building the shepherd's good reputation is the shepherdess; she is the key to his rising to higher heights just as she could be the key to his downfall. The pen of inspiration says: "I saw that the wives of the ministers should help their husbands in their labors and be exact and careful what influence they exert, for they are watched and more is expected of them than of others. Their dress should bean example, savoring of life rather than of death.I saw that they should take a humble, meek, yet exalted stand, not having their conversation upon things that do not tend to direct the mind heavenward. The great inquiry should be: 'How cart I save my own soul and be the means of saving others?' . . Their influence tells, decidedly, unmistakably, in favor of the truth or against it. They gather for Jesus or scatter abroad. An unsanctified wife is the greatest curse that a minister can have" (Adventist Home, p. 355).
One of the commands in the Charge reflects on the aspects of a "self-sacrificing service." This means that being the she! 'herdess you have a major part to play in this "self-sacrificing ministry." "When Christ called His disciples to follow Him, He offered them no flattering prosi',ects in this life. He gave them no promise of gain or worldly honor, nor did they make any stipulation as to what they should receive. . . Today the Savior calls us, as He called Matthew and John and Peter, to His work. If our hearts are touched by His love, the question of compensation will not be uppermost in our minds. We shall rejoice to be co-workers with Christ, and we shall not fear to trust His care. If we make God our strength, we shall have clear perceptions of duty, and unselfish aspirations; our life will be actuated by a noble purpose, which will raise us above sordid motives" (Gospel Workers, pp. 113, 114).
The aspect of "self-sacrifice" carries with it the connotation of carrying the waves of the ministry patiently and with a spirit of long suffering. Waves of ministry—Yes, there are waves in the ministry. Christ met opposition and angry words; they evon spat on him, but he never revenged or retaliated. He stood the waves, unshaken. It's His plan that we are to help the shepherd nurture the flock. Can we avoid being affected by these waves? No, that is only human. But 1 Peter 2:1923 has the formula for us. The duty of the shepherdess is not to add salt to the wound of the shepherd, but to gently soothe and help point her husband to the final reward. The shepherdess is to support the shepherd as he stands firm like a rock by the shores of the ocean, which is hit by the waves every minute but never moves—for indeed our Rock of Ages, Christ, stood to the end.
In one of the waves of the ministry, finances, we find the aspect of "self-sacrifice." There are many social pressures in managing the clergy finances. The shepherdess has a big role to play in this. She is an advisor and controller of extravagant spending. "I was shown that you, my brother and sister, have much to learn... You have not learned to economize" (Adventist Home, p. 376). We are therefore to live within our means in the self-sacrificing service.
I hope that you still have the love for the ministry you first had when you decided to marry a minister. It is not easy to accomplish all this. Humanly speaking it is impossible, but with Christ everything is possible.
How to be a good helpmeet
Listed below are some tips on how to be a good helpmeet in the ministry as charged to the pastors in our Division:
1. Possess a spirit of self-sacrifice and cultivate b ve forsouls. "The wife of a minister can do much if she will. If she possesses the spirit of self-sacrifice, and has a love for souls, she can with him do almost an equal amount of good. . . . A responsibility rests upon the minister's wife which she should not and cannot lightly throw off. God will require the talent lent her with usury. She should work earnestly, faithfully, and unitedly with her husband to save souls. She should never urge her wishes and desires, or express a lack of interest in her husband's labor, or dwell upon homesick, discontented feelings. All these natural feelings must be overcome. She should have a purpose in life which should be unfalteringly carried out. What if this conflicts with the feelings and pleasures and natural tastes! These should be cheerfully and readily sacrificed, in order to do good and save souls" (Gospel Workers, p. 201, 202).
2. Live a devoted prayerful life. "The wives of ministers should live devoted, prayerful lives. But some would enjoy a religion in which there are no crosses, and which calls for no self-denial and exertion on their part" (Ibid, p. 202).
3. Live a life of conformity to the biblical principles, as an example to those of your flock. In your dress, try to dress in a way that will keep you from being a stumbling block to some weaker soul in the congregation.
4. Study God's word constantly.
5. Be patient and long suffering.
6. Through Christ, cultivate a love for those that make ministry hard for your family and pray for them.
7. Be courteous, hospitable, and cheerful.
8. Be willing to learn—do not possess the spirit of knowing it all. The lessons of salvation are learned every day.
Remember that it is an honor to be co-worker with Him who gave His life for us. It is the ultimate joy to see many give their lives to Jesus because of a dedicated ministry by the pastor and his consecrated wife. We may not be rewarded in this world, but like Paul's message to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-7, we shall indeed say, "(We) have fought a good right, (we) have finished (our) course, (we) have kept the faith." And indeed a crown of righteousness will be waiting for us when Christ the Master shall say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant ... enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matt. 25:21). What a joy it will be for all of us as pastoral wives!
It is not the capabilities you now possess
or ever will have that will give you success.
It is that which the Lord can do for you
We need to have far less confidence
in what man can do
and far more confidence in what God can do
for every believing soul.
He longs to have you reach after Him by faith.
He longs to have you expect great things from Him.
He longs to give you understanding
in temporal as well as in spiritual matters.
He can give tact and skirt
Put your talents into the work,
Ask, God for wisdom,
And it will be given you.
—Christ Object Lessons, p. 146