When my wife and I moved into the parsonage, one godly sister gave my wife a book, written by Anne Ortlund, about how to be a great pastor’s wife. In contrast with pastors who met their wives during their college days or at the seminary, I married my wife six years after I finished the seminary. Thus, my wife had a steep learning curve on how to be a pastor’s wife.
When we came for the interview with the church leaders, she was asked what she sees herself doing in the church. She answered that she sees herself as a good wife to her husband, a good mother to her children and helping here and there with the music of the church. She did not see herself as doing ladies’ Bible studies or inviting the ladies of the church for meetings at the house. I think that her response prompted the Anne Ortlund gift. The more she read this book, the more depressed she became until she decided that she could not and would not conform to the standards set out in the book. She decided to be herself and that has been a great decision.
This past summer, Christianity Today ran one of their main issues with the featured article “American Women Want More of Moore.” It is accurate to say that in the English speaking world, Beth Moore is the dominant biblical writer for women. She has written commentaries, counseling books, appears as a speaker at women’s conferences and retreats and both her CDs and DVDs are selling in high numbers.
A number of years ago, our church began to use the Precept Upon Precept books, from Precept Ministries International. This study is headed by Kay Arthur, who has authored more than 100 books and hosts a radio and television program. The Precept series systematically studies the Bible and it has produced an international crop of men and women committed to studying the Bible and training others to do likewise.
As I was thinking of these two women whose stars are burning bright these days, I was also thinking of two women who sold millions of records, but then their lives unraveled. The women in mind were Christian singers Sandi Patti and Amy Grant. Both women went through divorces and, for a time, many of the Christians radio stations refused to play their songs. For a short time Grant changed her venue and sang in non-Christian concerts, seeking a different audience. After a hiatus of almost 10 years, both singers came back and are again performing new music and being appreciated for the old music that they have done in the seventies and the eighties.
Within the last 30 years, conferences and retreats for women in this country have grown greatly. There are conferences that take places in small stadiums and arenas and retreats that one has to book years in advance. This coming weekend my wife, along with 19 women from our church, is going to a retreat at the Word of Life Conference Center in Schroon Lake, NY. Among the 19 women that are going are my wife’s mom and two of our daughters.
As far as I know, in the 20 years that we have been here, my wife did not teach a Bible study for ladies, nor did she carry out any of the suggestions of Anne Ortlund. She was herself. Her gifts are hospitality and music. These two gifts have brought hundreds of guests to our house and more than one hundred children to play instruments in our church. Indeed, I believe that through what she did and continues to do, she brought more people into the house of God than even I have as the pastor.