Saturday, August 20, 2016

Her Story Quotes by Shari - {Who's Holding Your Clock?}


How many times have you said to yourself, or something like it, ..…

“If only God would hurry up and show me His plan.”

“If only my children would slow down and not grow up so fast.”

“If only I had been born 100 years ago.”

“If only God had called me into the ministry when I was younger.”

“If only I had had my children earlier in life.”

“If only I got saved when I was a teenager.”

“If only I were ten years older.”

"If only God would let me get married this year."

“If only I hadn’t wasted so much time.”


It is human nature to think that TIME is the key to everything. After all, there is that famous saying, “Timing is everything.” The problem lies in the fact that most often we would prefer to control the clock. 

One time a ministry opportunity presented itself to me that I’d been interested in doing for a very long time. It came out of the blue and, to be honest, had taken so long to eventuate that I assumed it wasn’t in the Lord’s plan for me. The opportunity came with a specific date, exactly ten days from the time I heard. My first thought was, “What in the world! There is absolutely no way I can make it happen that quickly. The timing is so off.” I was somewhat disappointed and a little frustrated and allowed myself, just for a moment, to ask God why He didn’t present the opportunity three months before when I would have had time to prepare and set things in order. 

I happened to be studying Ephesians 5 that morning for my devotions, and I read in verse 17, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” I felt I had a pretty good handle on what "the Lord's will" meant. I’d done so many studies on the Lord’s will…..I’d taught so many studies on the Lord’s will....but I found myself doubting if I really knew what the Lord's will was and wondering why He would dangle a dream right in front of me and yet just out of my reach. My study that morning took me to a sermon preached by Steven J. Cole entitled Walking Wisely. He made many good points, but one paragraph in particular spoke to my heart and reminded me of a great truth. Here is my paraphrased version I recorded in my journal:

"It is not about getting God to help me fulfill my dreams,
because it leaves me as the lord of my life and makes God my servant.
He is Sovereign and I am His servant. I exist to fulfill His will not vice versa."


Psalm 31:15 reminds us the “times” of our lives are in His capable hands. That morning I handed my "clock" back to Him and purposed not to waste another moment wishing the timing was different, knowing that when and if the Lord would bring that opportunity around again it would be in His perfect timing.








If you'd like to find out more about my story, you can click on this site's "Contributors" tab or visit my website. http://sharihousethailand.wix.com/servingjoyfully


I'd love to hear about your story, too. Feel free to leave a comment, or friend me on Facebook, or visit me in Thailand.  I have a great guest room.  :)


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Furlough Fitness Part 2



The battle is real.

But the success can be just as real with the right tools, planning, and preparation. So let's get practical.

First, let's always keep our motives and priorities in check. After all, man looks on the outward appearance, but God sees the heart.

Right motives are everything. Right priorities are vital.


Proverbs 21:30 "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:
but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."

It would be such a shame to be motivated by something so shallow, vain, and temporary as beauty. However, to be motivated by my love for the Lord, to better equip myself for His service, to glorify Him? Now that's eternal!


1 Timothy 4:8 "For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."

How tragic it would be to become so focused on the physical that I neglect the priority of my spiritual life!



Charity and Kristine still going strong in Furlough Fitness

The Right Support

Knowing that the battle against the Furlough Twenty was a huge task, I (Charity) went looking for support and accountability. I am happy to say, my team of support and accountability answered the call!

The first thing I did was I went to my family and let them know my goals and plan. They not only supported me, but some of them jumped right on board with me! My husband and daughter are right there beside me in exercise and eating healthier. Even our younger son is intentionally making better choices. My older son is one of my favorite cheerleaders in this battle!

The next thing I did was I made my goals public. I actually posted it on Facebook for all to see, including supporting churches. What were the results? Not only have I received verbal support, but also supporting churches are getting involved. When we have visited churches, they have opened their gym facilities to our family. One place we stayed, the church stocked the refrigerator and cabinets for us with healthy foods. I almost cried! My absolute favorite was when a pastor's wife in Canada invited me on a three mile hike. Not only did I get exercise, but I enjoyed sweet fellowship with her.


One of the best decisions I made was joining a three-month weight loss competition that a friend was hosting. I am highly competitive-natured. Joining that competition has kept me accountable. (When you have to check in every week to report your numbers, you tend to behave!) The first month of the competition is completed, and I am happy to report that I came in first place with a loss of 13.4 pounds for the month.



13.4 pounds lost and feeling great!


Where would I be without the faithful support and encouragement of my fellow Furlough Fitness friend, Kristine? Kristine's goals are 1) Not to gain the Furlough Twenty, and 2) To lose ten pounds along the way.

Cheering you on, Kristine!


Stepping Up to the Battle



Hi! I'm Kristine and my family and I are missionaries to Indonesia. We have just passed the halfway point of a seven month furlough, and I'm determined NOT to gain the Furlough Twenty! My "before" photo above was taken three weeks ago at the beginning of this blog series, and I had already started to notice the scale creeping up. Since this photo, I have lost five pounds and am already feeling much better. How did I do it?

Here are some steps I took:

The number one change I made was cutting out sugar! It took a couple of weeks to get over cravings for sweets and carbs, but now I just avoid all desserts at church buffets. I try to keep protein bars in my purse in case I feel tempted.

Even though I felt better after cutting out sugar, the scale did not budge. The next step I took was giving up snacking on chips and processed carbs while in the car and at restaurants. That's when I started to lose weight.

What I am finding that works is:
  • No sugary foods
  • No processed carbs
  • No carbonated drinks (especially on travel days)
  • No seconds
  • Choose salad if it is an option
  • Protein at every meal
  • Load up on veggies
  • Protein bar if I need a treat
Exercise has been part of my routine for years. I enjoy its benefits in the form of stress relief, less back pain, improved mood, and increased energy and endurance. When I fail to exercise, I find myself gaining weight very quickly. At home in Indonesia I typically exercise thirty minutes to an hour a day, five to six days a week. It's not always as easy to be consistent while on the road.

Here is some of what I have done to ensure that I get my workouts in:
  • I carry my favorite 30 minute workout DVDs with me. That way I have no excuses if I'm low on time. Anyone can squeeze in thirty minutes. If it's early morning, and my family is sleeping, I mute the sound on my DVD.
  • If the hotel room is too crowded with my family of five, I go to the hotel gym and walk on the treadmill.
  • If we are staying with a family, I invite the wife to go on an after dinner walk with me.
  • I have walked at the mall.
  • I have jogged in place while watching the hotel TV with my family.
  • I have gone swimming.
  • I have made extra trips up and down stairs while loading the van. Every little bit helps!


Engage the Enemy

(I got a little curious and asked Kristine if she would share the contents of her gym bag with us. Want a peek?)

Here's a photo of my exercise bag and it's contents. I bring it in everywhere we stay.





I have two foldable mats ($9.99 at WalMart), a set of 2-pound hand weights, an exercise band, my DVDs, and tennis shoes.



I won't mention what one of my biggest problems is while travelling, but this photo shows the solution.

************************************************

Please keep checking in on our progress.
Coming up:
More travel friendly, creative exercise ideas
Healthy fast food choices on the road
Conquering the buffet restaurant
The healthy hotel breakfast
Charity's gym bag
And more!









Thursday, August 11, 2016

Resting in Submission

Though the 10 years my husband and I have been married, submission hasn't always been easy. Still many days it isn't what my flesh desires but my heart longs to do the best I can to follow joyfully in the role God has given me. Today, I don't write to tell you the "Key To Submission" or "10 Ways To Be A More Submissive Wife". Today I just want to give a brief view of the blessings of embracing our God given role. These past few weeks God has been showing me how blessed and peaceful a heart can be when resting in the role He gave me.

Have you ever found yourself being choked by emotional stress, bogged down by "what ifs" and "how tos", fear about the future and all the details surrounding it? Have you found yourself asking;

Where will the money come from?

What's the next step for us?

What will everyone think of how God is leading my husband?

How will we accomplish all God has called my husband to do?

Have these statements recently crossed your mind or lips? I know there has been many days, they have run through my mind or even popped right out of my lips. Sadly, many days I have been driven to tears by the fears I have succumbed to about many of these issues. Do you think the Lord wants this for us? Do you think he wants us live lives overcome with stress and fear? I believe not.

Many times the Bible says to us, "Fear not". Time and time again he tells us of his promises to care for us and provide for us. I could quote scripture all day. But you know what I think is one of the biggest hindrances to peace in the life of a wife, when it comes to these issues?

Taking on the responsibilities of the husband.

Who did God give the responsibility to care for the provision of the family's needs? God expects the husband to give account for the welfare of his family. Now, there are many details within the family that I believe the wife also is largely responsible for but when it comes to the livelihood and survival of the family and the man's calling and ministry, I believe he gave that burden to the man. There are tons of ways we can be a helpmeet to our husbands in these burdens and responsibilities but it's when we begin to emotionally shoulder the burden of responsibility that we begin to crumble and .....shall we say, lose our graceful demeaner (code for going crazy lady:).

In our short time of marriage I have realized that troubles will come; financially, emotionally, spiritually and physically. I have also seen how my peace dissolves when I begin to ponder and scheme how to provide for my husbands role. I have also seen the abiding peace the Lord can give when I give it all to Him and to my earthly provider my husband and trust God to work through them. It is also amazing to see the peace it adds to your home and support it gives to your spouse as he shoulders these responsibilities. This is the beauty of submission.

Women who don't believe in submission, strive to do everything their husbands do and to carry the same load. Now we all know in marriage we both carry equal loads. Equal doesn't mean the same. We have recently been watching the 2016 Olympics. It's amazing to me to watch all the different athletes. They are all amazing, strong and talented individuals! If you look closely you will see that each sports athletes are built drastically different. One has shoulders that are strong and built with muscle. While others are sleek and slender. One needs to be unusually tall to compete well, while other sports favor petite people. God has made their bodies and they have trained their bodies to be equal to the rigors of that sport. The same is true in marriage. God has built and designed us each perfectly to be equal to the role he has made for us. It is only when we step outside of that role either verbally or emotionally, that we flounder and fail. Just as a gymnast would if they tried to compete in water polo. Is the gymnast less of an athlete because she can't beat the opponent in water polo? Of course not. Is the gold medalist in swimming an inferior athlete to the gold medalist in running? No! They are both equal and incredible. When they work together they make the USA shine to the whole world. The same is true when we work and live in our God given role in marriage. We are content, happy and satisfied.

Fear comes naturally to our flesh. I also realize that in extreme situations many times women have had to pick up the torch and bear the husbands responsibility who refuses to provide physically for his family. That is a sad day and I hope and pray that God has blessed you all with husbands who strive to provide for you and lead you in Gods will. But many times we have good husbands ,how be-it imperfect, who have never let us go hungry and never let us miss a bill and yet we still walk in fear and worry. Many of us our blessed with husbands who strive to follow Gods will in life and ministry. So let's count our blessings and not pick up the burden of responsibilities meant for stronger shoulders. Let's not fret about how Gods calling on your husbands life will pan out, where God will lead you next, or what Gods will for him is. As my lovely friend and mentor told me, "A wife's job is the same everywhere." So we needn't fret where we will continue that task.

The Lord gives immeasurable peace when we rest in our role. When we devote ourselves to doing the best we can at being the best wife and mother we can be and leave the husband-size burdens to our strong Olympians:) I'm continuously amazed at how well Gods word works when we put it in practice!



 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Her Story Silhouettes by Shari {#10 Ann Hasseltine Judson / Working in Patience-Resting in Hope}


Hey there, I'm Shari. One of my favorite things to do is read about or study the lives of those who have gone before us or who are walking beside us in this endeavor of being a missionary lady.* 

Their stories challenge me, encourage me, and teach me. My hope is that these "silhouettes" or glimpses of their lives will do the same for you.  

Each silhouette contains a small synopsis of a lady’s missionary service, a particular story from her everyday life that resonated with my own, and a short Bible study about a truth that I learned from it. I hope that as you read these posts you might be challenged to find out more about these great ladies, that you might find something that speaks to your heart or helps you in your own ministry, and that ultimately you will be encouraged to remain faithful to your calling.

So grab a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy, and let me tell you about her story.



Silhouette:   

Ann “Nancy” Hasseltine was born on December 22, 1789 in Bradford, Massachusetts. As a teenager she was quite typical and enjoyed balls, plays, parties, and the company of admiring young men. Although she could be quite serious if the matter at hand called for it, like excelling in her school work, she mostly filled her time with frivolous gaiety. A turning point for her came when she was reading a copy of Hannah More’s Strictures on Female Education, and she happened to see a quote from I Timothy 5:6, “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” The Lord used that verse and other events to turn her heart to more serious matters, and at the age of 16 she made a profession of faith and joined the church. Her heart became burdened for her friends and she took every opportunity to encourage them in the things of the Lord. Upon graduating from school she became a teacher, and in 1807 at the age of 18, she began a school for local children where she emphasized not only regular school subjects, but also the importance of studying the Bible and leading a Christian life. Soon her ministry expanded and she began travelling to hold classes for other children in neighboring towns. Before she was ever a missionary on the field, she was a missionary at home.


In 1810 at the age of 20, Ann met Adoniram Judson. He and three other fellow missionaries were seeking support from churches to form a society to promote foreign mission work, and they had been invited to the Hasseltine’s home for dinner. A strong attachment was formed between Ann and Adoniram right from their first meeting, and soon he asked for her hand in marriage and if she was willing to go to the mission field with him. Going to the field was a completely wild notion for a lady to have in that time period since no other woman had ever left America to do so. The idea of a lady living in a primitive situation with heathen people on the other side of the world in a place unknown to her family with little hope of ever seeing them again was absurd to most everyone. Ann knew it would take more than just loving Adoniram for her to make it on the mission field, but when she was assured in her heart that God was also calling her, she agreed. They were married in February of 1812, and shortly after their wedding they made the long four-month journey to India.

Upon their arrival, they were ordered home by the Indian government and the East India Company. Instead they went to Rangoon, a seaport in Burma which was considered by most to be a forlorn and dreadful place. They immediately began learning the Burmese language in order to translate the Bible, write religious tracts, and minister to the Burmese people. Adoniram focused on the formal grammatical structure of the Burmese language and had the first tract booklet finished by the end of their third year. Ann, on the other hand, became quite adept at the conversational dialect of the local women taking full advantage of the opportunities her daily life provided her. By the end of their fourth year, they had written a Burmese grammar book, two tract booklets, and translated the book of Matthew. During this time Ann had given birth to their first child, Roger, who passed away after eight months. She also began holding classes for the ladies on Sundays where she would read the Bible to them, and she opened a school for Burmese girls. Seeing their tradition of female infanticide, child marriages, and the general mistreatment of women, Ann became even more burdened to reach them with the Gospel. Even with all their efforts it took them seven years before they had their first convert. With great patience they continued working, and after nine years they had seen eighteen souls trust Christ.

In 1822 she had to return to America because of poor health, and while there she published a book about their missionary work entitled An Account of the American Baptist Mission to the Burman Empire. It was widely read and stirred the hearts of many people to give financially, to pray faithfully, and to go willing to help their cause. Ann’s book and her speaking engagements did much to influence many ladies concerning the importance of single women and married ladies on the field. She returned to Burma in 1823 before the war broke out between Burma and England. Because Americans were considered tightly aligned to the British, her husband, along with other missionaries, was thrown into the “death-prison.” During this time she used every ounce of her strength and cunning ability to garner favors, sneak provisions, and plead for his freedom. Seven months after Adoniram was imprisoned Ann gave birth to Maria on January 26, 1825. Finally, in March of 1826 the British defeated the Burmese and the prisoners were released. Through her self-sacrificing efforts she had sustained the men through their 21 months of captivity.

Since their mission station in Rangoon had been destroyed during the war, they opened a new station in Amherst, Lower Burma. After just a few months, Adoniram was called away on another trip, but Ann and Maria stayed behind. She worked on building them a family home and two huts where she held school and taught the Bible on Sundays to the villagers. Before her husband could return she fell sick again with a dreadful fever and on October 24, 1826, at the age of 36 she passed away. To Ann, the call to the mission field was never just a wild romantic notion. It was a God-driven, burning desire that caused her to willingly give up her life so that others might know of Christ. The foundation that she helped to lay over 200 years ago is still being built upon today. She is a true example of a lady of whom it can be said, “She hath done what she could”!

A little while, and we are in eternity; before we find ourselves there,
let us do much for Christ. - Ann H. Judson



Her Story/My Story:  

Ann's life is a perfect example of working in patience and resting in hope...

  • hope that God would help her cope with the long journey to the field
  • hope that the Lord would meet their needs once they arrived
  • hope that He would allow her to master the Burmese language
  • hope that God would use her to make a difference in the lives of the Burmese people
  • hope that He would help her overcome Small Pox and Spotted Fever
  • hope that God would help her husband find someone to feed her newborn when she was unable to because of sickness
  • hope that God would show her the new location where her captive husband had been taken
  • hope that God would bring the war to an end and their ministry could continue
  • hope that their translation work would affect the lives of those who read it
      ... and on and on.

A perfect example of a time in her life when she had to “work in patience” and “rest in hope” was the time when her husband went missing for over seven months.  It was before the war between England and Burma broke out, but the Burmese government officials were already targeting the mission station at Rangoon, believing the foreign teachers had ulterior motives.  With her husband missing and she being the only other person who could speak Burmese, Ann was forced to act as a go-between to try and convince the officials that the mission station at Rangoon only had peaceful motives. During this time there was also a cholera outbreak.  Ann’s patient perseverance helped her to save everyone from infection. Eventually the ships began to leave Rangoon in the face of impending war.  With her husband presumed dead, she was urged by all to leave with the ships and at first she was persuaded, but at the last minute she turned back in faith that her husband was still alive.  Two weeks later Adoniram returned home to report that the boat he had been travelling on was blown-off course causing the delay for his return.  It was reported to him by others that, “the preservation of the mission had been due to the firmness and fearlessness of his wife.”

She persevered. She worked hard. She did not just sit on the sidelines waiting for the Lord to do the work, but she was patient while she worked sometimes in the face of slow results which gave her the opportunity to hope that the Lord was also working on her behalf and in His time. This is a trait that missionaries must be able to master if they are to succeed and not give up. Many a missionary, tempted to become impatient with their language learning - the growth of their converts - the lack of funds for purchasing their own church property, etc., has encouraged their heart with these words, “Just think of the Judsons who waited seven years before seeing their first convert.”

As for me, patience is something I continually struggle with. I have never been very good at it. I remember when I first got to the field my mother had sent a beautiful hat box on ahead of me so it would be there when I arrived.  Inside there were 12 small wrapped gifts, one to be opened on the first day of every month for my first year on the field.  For those of you who know me, you already know how that turned out.  I was bound and determined to be patient, but those presents were all open within the week.  I did however, leave each one in the box until their designated month.

As I read back through my many journals time and again I find myself asking God to help me be more patient. I have often told the Lord, if I just knew what was up ahead, I would happily wait until it came. But to please just let me know what His plan was.  How foolish of me to think that after knowing what was coming up ahead, I’d be able to patiently wait until the appropriate time.  God knows that, if I was excited about a future event/situation, I would use the time to try to hurry Him up arguing the point that He might as well bring it to pass now if He’s going to do it anyway. Or, on the flip side, if I was not excited about the future event/situation, I’d use the remaining time to worry and try to persuade Him of other options. That quote “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of 3 of them” does little to comfort me or make me more patient, although its sarcastic undertone makes me smile.


Study:  Working in Patience Resting in Hope

God gives us many examples in the Bible of the benefits of patience. He also seems to enjoy taking us to what our mind considers to be the very precipice before revealing His plan. During a particular time in my ministry I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the Lord to reveal His plan, all the while giving Him all the options I had come up with. Oddly enough He didn't take any of my well-thought out, carefully-crafted suggestions and instead encouraged my heart to wait patiently using one of Elijah's stories that is found in I Kings 17.

1.  Elijah had just stood in the face of the king and had proclaimed judgment on the land. He had done something “big” for God. You would think this would have garnered him the privilege of knowing what God’s next plan was; but no, instead God’s next instructions simply included a brook and some ravens.   

Vs. 3 - God gave Elijah a place to go.

Vs. 4 - God told Elijah how He would provide his basic needs of food and water.

Vs. 7 - “after a while” – the Lord in His providence did not give us a time frame for this story… probably so I couldn’t say to Him, “You told Elijah to wait for just two weeks. Why am I having to wait two years?” 

Vs. 7 -“the brook dried up” - Not only did God make Elijah wait while the brook was drying up, He made him wait until the brook was completely dried up.

·  God does not tell us if Elijah hoped while he waited, if he worried while he waited, if he argued with God while he waited, or if he planned and schemed while he waited. What we do know is that he was there even when things looked at their lowest, and he waited for the Lord to reveal His plan. 

2. When Elijah, for all human intents and purposes, seemed to be in dire straits…

Vs. 9 – God gave Elijah a direction to go.

Vs. 9 - God told Elijah how He would provide for his basic needs of food and water.

As I have studied this matter of patience, and restudied this matter of patience, and continue to study this matter of patience I have found one of the greatest benefits of being patient is the time it provides not only for God to work in the lives of others, but also the time it gives me to rest in hope. If God showed me everything all at once what would there be to hope for?

3. When Elijah arrives at the next step in God’s plan…

Vs. 10 – Elijah asks the widow to do something within her means.

Vs. 11 – Elijah asks the widow to do something not within her means.

·  We now can see that while God had Elijah waiting at the Brook Cherith, He was working to bring the widow woman to her lowest place in order to perform an amazing miracle in her life and show Himself strong on both of their behalves.

·  If Elijah had made up his own mind that he didn’t want to wait while God supplied his food from one of the foulest creatures on earth, or if he decided he needed to leave the brook when the water was nearly gone, he might have headed to a different city. If by chance he had chosen the city where the widow lived, the timing in her life wouldn’t have been right for God to do the great work He planned to do.

Likewise, if Ann had not been patient and had given up hope and had decided to leave on the ship with the others, she would not have been there for her husband’s return. She would not have been there when he was taken prisoner. The question begs asking then, what if she had not been there to nurse his open wounds or deadly sicknesses? What if she had not been there to provide him life-sustaining food? What if she had not been there to comfort him and pray for and with him? Then what? What of the future work God had for them to do? What of the work that God wanted to accomplish through her husband even after she had passed away? What of the work God knew He wanted to do even today in the heart of a Burmese as they opened a Bible translated by Adoniram Judson? Ann had no knowledge of what all God would do because she chose to work in patience and rest in hope.

When I think of this, I say to myself, "You will submit your dreams and your plans for your life. You will patiently do the work the Lord has revealed He wants you to do where He has placed you. And, you will rest in hope that one day you will have the opportunity to look back and see all the work that God wanted to perform for you and through you whether that be here on earth or from heaven above."

It seems fitting that Ann was buried in Burma under a Hope tree. In Adoniram’s own words, “My sweet little Maria lies by the side of her fond mother. Together they rest in hope, under the Hope-tree (Hopia), which stands at the head of the graves; and together, I trust, their spirits are rejoicing…













If you'd like to find out more about my story, you can click on this site's "Contributors" tab or visit my website. http://sharihousethailand.wix.com/servingjoyfully



I'd love to hear about your story, too. Feel free to leave a comment, or friend me on Facebook, or visit me in Thailand.  I have a great guest room.  :)



______________________________________________
*Disclaimer:

I have chosen to highlight the life of these ladies because of what they have accomplished for the Lord not because I agree with their doctrinal beliefs.  As with all study of man, our focus should be on the character traits they bestowed in their lives that allowed the Lord to use them, how the Lord used them, the methods of ministry they incorporated that allowed them to be effective, etc.  We do not study man to get our doctrine.  Our doctrinal beliefs should only come from the Bible.  To that end you may find you don’t agree with the doctrine of a particular person that I write about, but I believe there is still much wisdom we can gain from studying their lives. 

____________________________________

Resources & Book List:

PDF of Ann's book - An Account of the American Baptist Mission to the Burman Empire  https://archive.org/details/anaccountameric01judsgoog

James, Sharon. Ann Judson: A missionary Life for Burma, 2015

Knowles, James Davis. Memoir of Ann H. Judson: Late Missionary to Burmah; Including a History of the American Baptist Mission in the Burman Empire. Boston: Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln, 1844 (1829).

Judson, Edward. The Life of Adoniram Judson



Friday, August 5, 2016

We Set the Standard



When I was in college, I took a night course for girls who were engaged to men going into the ministry. In it, we were given a drawing of the “Ideal Pastor’s Wife.” She had all the expected qualities: she had to dress in style but not too in style. She had to have eyes in the back of her head as well as in the front. She had to be an excellent housekeeper and hostess. She had to be in perfect health. She had to be able to teach, play the piano, sing, etc., etc. It was all in fun, but the truth is that women in leadership are scrutinized, and there are many expectations.

Any woman in ministry is a woman that people naturally look up to. I thought I’d do a little Bible study to see what God’s expectations are and then add some practical advice.

Here’s what God expects of pastors’ and deacons’ wives. (Single missionary women would have many of these same standards.)
  • A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 1 Timothy 3:2-5. (Compare with Titus 1:6). Implied rather than stated, the pastor’s wife will help her husband be hospitable, and she’ll help him by being submissive and guiding the children to obey their father.
  • Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things (1 Timothy 3:11). Here’s another list for the pastor’s wife: serious, not a gossip, wise, and faithful.
  • Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well (1 Timothy 3:12). Notice, a deacon’s wife is exactly the same as a pastor’s wife. Women in Christian leadership have the same standards.
  • That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:2-5). This passage begins with men, but it says the women are to have the same qualities as they do. It’s quite a list! This goes for single women in leadership as well as married women. “Aged” indicates spiritual maturity. (A godly Christian woman in her twenties or thirties could easily qualify as a mature Christian, and she is able to teach other women.) Notice the ending of this passage: that the word of God be not blasphemed. Wow! That’s strong language! Our behavior either validates the Word of God or it doesn’t. 
You set the standard in your place of service. Whether you realize it or not, all of the women in your church (or school, or whatever ministry) are watching your example. All of them! 

Years ago, in the first church where we ministered in here in Spain, the native pastor’s wife copied the founding missionary pastor’s wife in everything. It was especially evident in clothing. They looked like clones! The missionary pastor’s wife had set the standard, and this lady was more than eager to follow!

Every woman in ministry should examine herself to see if she is setting the right standard. Let’s look at two areas—in addition to those mentioned above:

1. Priorities
  • Our personal walk with God is the most important thing in our lives. It shows when a woman has an intimate relationship with the Lord. 
  • If you are married, your husband comes second on your list. This means you yield to his wishes. You are supportive. You don’t talk negatively about him anywhere or any time. You love him! People are always watching, and your marriage is important in your ministry. It’s the model everyone else looks to. Is it happy? If not, change the areas that need tweaking.
  • If you have children, the Bible says clearly that those children still at home must be in subjection and must respect their father. It’s one of the qualifications of Christian leadership. (If they are adults and don’t live under your roof, they are responsible to God for their actions.)
  • Ministry is important, but it comes after your walk with God and your family life. Make sure ministry is in its biblical place on your priority list.
  • I might add mentoring as one of your priorities. You shouldn’t have to do everything yourself. Teach younger women to help you in ministry. 
2. Dress
  • It is so important how you dress! I’m shocked by some of the clothing choices I see on social media. Some of the women are in ministry, and some are not, but they’re all professing Christians. I will be explicit here, since this blog is for women. We all know the Bible says that women are to be modest (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Yet, I see low tops and tight jeans, jeggings, and leggings. I see short skirts. I see immodest work-out clothes. I see women who give the perception that they never wear skirts (on social media). Some show photos of themselves in the swimming pool—in revealing suits. They don’t seem to be making an effort to be modest. This is frankly disappointing, because some of these women are in church leadership. Some of them are missionaries, and some are pastors’ wives and deacons’ wives. People look up to women in ministry. This includes everyone in the church.
  • What example of modesty do you set?

I think we underestimate the influence of a godly woman. Think about one woman you know who exemplifies godliness. What is she like? Where does she set her standards? Why did you pick her? What qualities in her life “speak” to you that she loves the Lord?

The Bible says our role models in every area are supposed to be godly women. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10). (Isn't it interesting that God links good works with modesty?) 

People naturally expect more of their leadership than they do of themselves. They look to us for guidance. I believe we need to examine our lives and lifestyles, so that we can provide the best example for those around us.

Let’s set a truly godly standard!

   Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1)