Wanted: a gardener. The flowerbed by the church front door is sprouting dandelions.
Wanted: a custodian. The soap dispenser in the ladies’ room is empty.
Wanted: a secretary. The weekly bulletin has to be typed, printed, copied, and folded.
Wanted: a program planner. The hymns listed in the bulletin need to be chosen.
Wanted: an editor. No errors can appear in that bulletin.
Wanted: a decorator. The hallway bulletin board is brown and bare.
Wanted: a painter. The nursery walls are dingy.
Wanted: a cook. The teens are hungry for pots of chili and plates of brownies (frosted, please).
Wanted: a counselor. A lady is threatening to strangle her husband.
Wanted: a model. Ladies need an pattern of Christian dress.
Wanted: a child-care specialist. A 3-year old is throwing tantrums in Sunday School.
Wanted: a hostess. Missionaries will arrive Saturday afternoon.
Wanted: a friend. An elderly member is lonely.
Wanted: an arbitrator. Personalities in the pews are clashing.
Wanted: a flower arranger. Pulpit posies are drooping.
Wanted: a gardener. Somebody needs to grow some fresh posies.
Wanted: a promoter. Visitors must be visited.
Wanted: a truant officer. Absentees have to be rounded up.
Wanted: a nurse. A bus kid threw up.
Wanted: a substitute. The Junior High girls’ Sunday school teacher has a headache.
Wanted: an event planner. The Mother-Daughter tea is in six weeks.
Wanted: a costume designer. Christmas angels need gowns, wings, and haloes.
Wanted: a chauffeur. A widow needs a ride to prayer meeting.
Wanted: a comforter. People get sick and go to the hospital. Sometimes, they don’t get well.
Wanted: a purchasing agent. Choirs need music. Copiers need paper. Teachers need flannelgraph.
Wanted: a switchboard operator. The phone is ringing. And ringing and ringing.
Wanted: a listener. A needy person is calling.
Wanted: a wife. The pastor’s not complete without one.
Flexible hour, weekdays and weekends. No age or educational requirements. Must love people and be capable of delegating tasks. Servant’s heart a must; smiling face a bonus. No wages; eternal benefits guaranteed.
Wanted: a woman to “serve the Lord [and His church] with gladness.”
Wanted (and needed): YOU!
Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries
For Some People
For some people, church is optional’a nice place to go one day a week if nothing more interesting comes up, an elective, not a requirement. Not for you. Church is the framework of your schedule, the hub of your wheel, the axis of your planet. You sacrifice your pleasure for its prosperity. You love your church as Christ loves His Church, and for that He honors you.
For some people, the pastor is the gray suit in the pulpit, listened to until he’s finished, greeted and hand-shaken at the church door, and called on without hesitation night and day. Not for you. He’s the man you married’fully human but fully His, the man who needs his stomach filled, his shirts ironed, his children civilized, his body rested, and his heart lifted. You protect him from schedule overload and strange women. You do him good all the days of your life. You praise Him as Christ praises him, and for that He honors you.
For some people, prayer requests are jotted in the margin of the bulletin and mentioned in a brief public prayer. They are granted a moment of sympathy and then forgotten. Not for you. Prayer requests get your thought-train rolling. Who needs a call? When can you squeeze in a hospital visit? Do you have money to meet that need? Does somebody need the lasagna in your freezer? You care for the needy as Christ cares for them, and for that He honors you.
For some people, a low attendance at church is just a number. The absentees might be back next week. If they aren’t, they aren’t. Maybe somebody new will show up. If not, it’s no big deal. Not for you. Every empty seat has a name and face, and you know them all. They may be sick or stuck in the snow; they may be offended or upset or just need extra attention. You notice individuals as Christ notices them, and for that He honors you.
For some people, Christmas is a holiday. They enjoy splendid music and a stirring pageant followed by delicious homemade treats in a beautifully decorated fellowship hall. It’s their relaxing tradition. It’s not like that for you. Your holiday traditions include nightly music and drama rehearsals, frantic sewing of costumes, midnight baking, early morning decorating–and doing it all with joy. You serve as Christ came to serve, and for that He honors you.
You’re not just ‘some people’; you are one very special woman. You don’t just keep up with church people; you tend the Shepherd’s sheep. You aren’t building your own kingdom; you are serving the King of Kings. You aren’t just busy; you’re busy doing what matters. And for that, my extraordinary friend, the Lord and I honor you.
Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries
Have You Seen the Preacher’s Wife?
I know she was at church this morning; she always is. She’s the lady who, though she knows all the words to all the verses of all the hymns, still held the hymnbook open during the congregational singing–as a good example.
She’s the lady who lugged a load of other paraphernalia to church but forgot her Bible, so grabbed one from a shelf in her husband’s office without noticing it was in Hebrew. She still looked at the (unintelligible) sermon text when she was supposed to’as a good example. She silenced her children with a look when this sent them into a giggle fit.
She’s the lady who wore to church a new dress she found on a clearance rack, which she was careful to explain to anyone who noticed. And everyone did, because she’s the preacher’s wife. (She bought two others at the same time but will widely space their debuts.)
She’s the lady who made clandestine signals to the preacher that his microphone was off, his tie was askew, and a fly had landed on his forehead. Only he recognized her signals’but the rest of the congregation was noticeably relieved.
She’s the lady who shook hands at the church door, slipping her husband a breath mint as folks approached and antibacterial hand gel when they all left. At that post, she collected others’ heart burdens to carry but kept her own a Lord-shared secret. She smiled and smiled and smiled, especially at those who didn’t deserve it.
She’s the lady who (even in her new dress) didn’t look like a model but actually is one’a Romans 12 model of tender affection and habitual deference, energetic and warm-hearted service, hope and patience in trials, and persistent prayers. She is known for looking for needs she can meet and ways to show loving hospitality, for crying when others cry and laughing when they laugh, for seeking out the lonely and lowly to make them her friends. She is not conceited. In fact, she wonders why anyone would think she is special.
But she is. In fact, she’s extraordinary. When you see her, would you tell her that for me?
Copyright 2010 – Press On! Ministries
Follow Jesus’ footsteps, one by one . . .
The disciples bustled Him through a crowd toward the home of a prominent man with a sick child, but Jesus stopped to encourage one feeble, trembling woman who, unnoticed by the throng, had found healing in the touch of His garment.
Though thirsty and tired from travel, Jesus opened a saving conversation with one woman who came alone to the well. This lonely, sinful Samaritan, rejected by all the decent people in town, was the first Jesus told that He was the Messiah.
The disciples thought toddlers too insignificant for Jesus to bother with, for they could do nothing to serve the kingdom. But Jesus gently held those little ones, blessed them, and declared that they were His kingdom.
Wealthy men poured prideful riches into the treasury box, but Jesus paid tribute to one woman who gave only two mites–a widow who had nothing to give but her all.
Jesus did not lodge in the home of a leading citizen of Jericho but called His host down from a sycamore tree instead. He didn’t see Zacchaeus as the traitorous swindler he was, but as the new creature he would be.
Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus home to a Sabbath meal but neglected a host’s usual courtesies, so Jesus allowed His feet to be washed by the tears, anointed with the perfume, and wiped with the hair of a public but pardoned sinner. He accepted the passionate worship of one woman who had scandalized all the others by simply walking into the room.
In the agonies of crucifixion, weighed down with all the sins of all who would ever live, Jesus heard with compassion the plea of one thief whose spiked hand stretched toward His own. To that one penitent, Jesus spoke words of mercy and hope.
Though His disciples were close at hand and powerful priests and rulers nearby, the resurrected Jesus appeared first to a woman with a painful past–Mary Magdalene, once possessed by seven demons.
Those days are long ago but not far away, for you, too, minister to Ones: little ones, lonely ones, poor, sick, scared, and scarred ones. Guilty, rejected ones, uncultured and unsophisticated ones. Ones branded as irrelevant by the world but precious to the Savior. Some work a crowd, but you work with individuals. You are an apprentice to the Master of ministry, and you follow in His footsteps.
Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries
Taken for Granted
When I walked into the glass front door of the fruit market, I was glad the guys outside stacking melons spoke a language I couldn’t understand. I took for granted that the door would magically swing open for me, but instead it just stood there and let me crash headlong into it. I don’t know which hurt worse’my nose or my pride. Since that day, I’ve been giving automatic doors the appreciation they deserve. I should have done that a long time ago, because as a ministry wife, I know what it’s like to be taken for granted. You do too. But lately, I’ve been noticing you.
Those candy wrappers crammed into the crevices of the pew cushions’I saw you dig them out. And you’re the one I saw take the clipboard after it had been passed around and sign up for the leftover jobs. And you’re the one who pulled the dead blooms from the lobby lilies, updated the bulletin boards, and polished the piano keys.
Baptismal robes have been washed and re-hung and there are fresh towels in the kitchen. I’m pretty sure you’re responsible for that. I also know that you chose to teach the rowdiest class in Vacation Bible School and baked extra cookies every day that week in case someone forgot. The church refrigerator has been emptied of all petrified food and needy families’ cupboards have been filled with fresh food’thanks to you.
You deserve to be honored, but sometimes, praise is slow in coming. Do you ever sense that you are being taken for granted? Congratulations! To reach that status, you have to have been so faithful for so long that it never occurs to anyone that you might not do your job. You have been thoroughly reliable, consistent, and trustworthy, quietly serving without fanfare or reward, and frankly expecting neither.
Would you rather not be taken for granted? Just quit doing your job for a while, stand back and snicker as people bump their noses. Then they’ll appreciate you! But I suspect that that’s not your style. Instead, you rest in the truth that ‘God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister’ (Hebrews 6:10). The Father up above is looking down in love, and He for one never, never takes you for granted.
Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries
You Know You’re a Ministry Wife When . . .
Vacation Bible School is no vacation, and planning the church picnic is no picnic.
Easter and Christmas are not holidays, and Sunday is not a Sabbath.
After the ladies’ retreat, you need one of your own.
Going to funerals with your husband feels like a date.
Your husband has asked you to stop smiling so big at funerals.
You have prayed with a woman on a bedpan.
You recognize hymns by number as well as by name.
You’re in the front row of the choir though you can’t sing a lick.
When certain people offer to brew the fellowship coffee, blow up the junior church balloons, or turn on the baptistry heater, you show up early–just in case. With others, you don’t. And you never forget which is which.
You sometimes sneak into the pastor’s office for a quick kiss.
You listen for running toilets before you leave the building.
You’re the one who always knows where the plunger is.
You firmly espouse the doctrine of the Sunday afternoon nap.
To have a day off, you have to leave home.
Your work week runs from Sunday morning to Saturday night. A vacation week runs from Monday morning to Saturday night.
Your family goes to “the shore,” not “the beach.”
You only dare to donate unwanted gifts out of town. Way out of town.
You’re introduced more often by title than by name.
When people leave your church, no matter what the reason, you bleed.
You solve problems nobody else ever knows about.
About once a week, you talk your pastor out of resigning.
You’re the church telephone operator–sometimes 411, sometimes 911.
You don’t have an unlisted number, or want one, because you love people.
Missing a service because of a headache generates a pile of get well cards, because they love you back.
Your schedule and guest room are usually full.
Your ears, arms, heart, and kitchen are always open.
Your salary is only fair to middling but your benefits are out of this world.
And you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries
You Might Be a Pastor’s Wife
You might be a pastor’s wife if. . .
You’re at every service–second row, piano side. You don’t get to sit with your husband. He hardly sits at all.
You arrive early and leave late, even if you have a headache or company. Or both.
You bring music for a last-minute offertory’just in case.
You clean the coffeepot, dump the diapers, and water the ferns.
You starch your husband’s white shirts, press his gray suits, and remove spots from his blue ties. When he buys a little red car, you fret that he won’t look dignified in funeral processions.
When your family needs to sleep late, you get up early and dress before going back to sleep on the couch so if a deacon drops by, you can answer the door and he won’t think you’re all lazy.
You’re good at multiplying recipes to feed 12, 24, 48, or 96.
You keep a pan of lasagna in the freezer–just in case.
You are able to sound grateful for another sack of zucchini.
You wince when the phone rings early on Sunday morning, but you don’t panic, since you’ve already prepared a Sunday school lesson’just in case.
You laugh at your husband’s pulpit joke before he gets to the punch line and turn to the sermon text before it’s announced.
You notice new hairdos, new dresses, and which lady needs a hug. You provide compliments and hugs, just in case no one else does.
You remember the names of other people’s grandchildren and puppies.
You love the unlovable.
No matter how many folks are at a service, you notice who isn’t.
You smile at the eighth family who say they will be out of town next Sunday and wish them a pleasant trip.
To attendance figures, you add the people who would have been there if they could have been there and come up with a new total, just for yourself.
You work beside your husband without schedule, salary, or job description. You love your job–usually.
You may already know how valuable you are. Maybe your congregation praises you openly and often. I hope so. But’just in case’let me remind you: your church is stronger because of you. You are its caregiver, its sparkle, and its heart. The wheels of your church roll smoothly because you sweep the pebbles out of its path. Without you, your husband’s task would be much harder. And the lobby ferns would die.
Look in the mirror and smile at yourself. You have chosen a career with earthly value and eternal significance. Hooray for you’you’re a pastor’s wife!
Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries
A Portrait of You
In Romans 12:9-21, Paul painted a lovely portrait. Though it’s centuries old, something about its brush strokes has always seemed familiar. As I looked at it again this morning, I realized why– it looks a lot like you!
You’re the beautiful believer he paints with words ‘the one who loves without self-interest, who instinctively puts others before herself. You love God, too, and since you are glued to His truth, you hate sin. But your heart yearns over sinners, because you know they walk a hard road. And as for the family of God’your heart and your arms are always wide open to them.
Nobody could ever call you lazy! When there’s work to be done, there you are, serving Him passionately, joyfully serving His children. You’re fervent but not frantic; you’re calm when it counts. When trials come, you emerge from your prayer closet with an abundance of tranquility and fresh hope to distribute to the rest of us. When our faith fades, you share some of yours. You talk to God for us when we hurt too much to form words. You hold us together when we’re falling apart.
And you put hands and feet to your prayers. You notice our needs, and if you can meet them yourself, you do. The word ‘imposition’ is not in your dictionary. You feed countless friends and strangers, serving up welcoming smiles and encouraging words along with chicken and chocolate pie. Hospitality isn’t just your ministry obligation; it’s your delight. In your home, no one is a nuisance.
When someone decides to make herself your enemy, still you bless her in your heart, and whether friend or foe laughs or cries, you join right in. You never hold yourself apart or climb up onto the pedestal of your ministry title. Instead, you sit where we sit. You’re never conceited; a snob, you’re not. In your world, no one is an outcast.
No matter how you are treated, revenge is the last thing on your mind. You’d much rather turn foes into friends and competitors into companions. You prefer to thaw frozen hearts with the warmth of your love. You rise above instead of getting even, for you trust the One Who promises to work ‘righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed’ (Psalm 103:6).
You counter grumpiness with good humor and crabbiness with cheer. You calm the cantankerous and soothe the surly. You brighten our world, sustain our spirit, and lighten our load. I really don’t know what we would do without you. Paul has not yet met you, my friend, but someday he will, and on that heavenly day I’m sure he’ll agree with me: when he wrote Romans 12:9-21, he was painting a picture of you.
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)
Copyright 2012 – Press On! Ministries
The crowd stood together to pay tribute to the pastor on the platform. I watched his wife applaud along with the rest of us as we honored him for work that I knew she had done.
It’s true that the vision had been his. He had prayerfully determined God’s will, established the objective, set the course, rallied the troops, and led the charge, but she had directed the details, handling many of them herself and delegating the rest. Without her, his dream could never have become reality. No one else would have had any idea what steps to take to keep up with their energetic leader as he strode down the road toward the goal.
But because of her, the work was accomplished, the problems overcome, the goal reached. And now her husband was being honored for her job well done. It didn’t seem fair. She deserved at least half that applause. Surely she (and he) knew that! I searched her face for any sign of resentment, but it wasn’t there. No discontent, anger, disappointment, or sadness, either. Fatigue was there, of course, but not one bit of frustration. What I read on her face instead was satisfaction with a huge task finally completed and delight with the acclaim being given her husband.
As I got to know her better, I began to understand why her husband hadn’t called her to join him on the platform that day. Even the smallest word of public thanks could make her blush. She simply loved her husband and their ministry and wanted them both to succeed. When they did, she didn’t care who got the credit. In fact, she was always surprised to be told that she had anything to do with it, and sort of embarrassed that anyone else would think so.
As more time went by, I discovered something else. In private, her husband gave her all the lavish praise that he shielded her from in public. He knew how perfectly suited to him she was. His vision was panoramic; she focused on details. While he gazed way past the present into a future no one else could see, she was making a list of what needed to be done right this minute. Where he saw a forest, she saw trees with branches and leaves and tiny acorns. He planned the itinerary; she packed the suitcases. Without her, he could not accomplish all he could imagine. He easily and gratefully acknowledged her worth as his perfectly-designed helpmeet and friend, a priceless gift from a wise God. His heart safely trusted in her; he knew no fear of spoil. And he also knew that the one thing she didn’t crave was public praise.
But I would like to give it to her anyway. The problem is that she’s not going to recognize herself. Models of meekness are like that. So if you’re reading this and think I couldn’t possibly be talking about you, the chances are that I am. While nobody else is looking, step up onto the platform and smile sweetly as I admire and appreciate, congratulate and commend you. Try not to blush. It won’t take long, I promise, for me to offer my ovation for a job well done.
Copyright 2012 – Press On! Ministries