Whether welcome or not, ministers’ wives wield tremendous influence over their husbands.
Referring to the sacred influence wives have over their husbands, Kathy Litton, national consultant for the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Flourish ministry (Flourish.me) for ministers’ wives, said the ladies’ “husbands work in a unique industry … an industry of eternity. Our influence on them has an eternal significance.”
With that thought, Litton says, comes much weight.
“We have the potential to fan the flames in our husband’s life and advance the gospel,” she said.
Pastors live in a “thumbs-up, thumbs-down world all the time,” Litton said, also referring to it as a “glamour shot, mug shot” world, which makes pastors vulnerable.
Litton was part of “Equipping Day for Ministry Wives” March 28 hosted by Embrace, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s women’s ministry, and NAMB’s Flourish. Joining Litton was Lori Frank (lorifrank.org), wife of Biltmore Baptist Church’s pastor, Bruce Frank. Biltmore is a multi-site church based in Arden. Cindy Johnson (cindyjohnson.org) served as the day’s worship leader. She is a member of Old Town Baptist Church, where the event was held.
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Ladies participate in a song with motions during Equipping Day for ministers’ wives March 28 at Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
Litton discussed the need for Southern Baptists to have a strong theology of suffering, especially for ministers’ wives. Litton is a two-time pastor’s wife. She was married to Rick Ferguson for more than 20 years before he died in a car accident in 2002. In 2009, she married Ed Litton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala. Kevin Ezell, president of NAMB, asked her to come on board to help minister to the wives of pastors, church planters and missionaries.
Litton stressed the importance of words.
“Men are big and strong … but they can’t absorb the words when she cuts him down,” she said. “God has entrusted you with this … influence. You and I get an opportunity to be stewards.”
Litton referred to Genesis 3, 2 Samuel and Proverbs 31 when talking about the powerful influence women have.
“Far more than you can possibly realize, your husband longs for your affirmation,” she said. “Do not underestimate your power.”
She shared five things to create positive influence: vibrant, spiritual passion; godly character; a healthy biblical love; shared vision; and godly wisdom.
Litton considers character as Christlikeness, truthfulness, kindness and generous, as well as being responsible, unwavering and hardworking.
“Partner with him on the highs and lows,” she said. “When he knows you’re on his team, that brings him great security and great support.
“Do you realize how many times a week your husband has to make decisions that require godly wisdom? Ministry is always very murky. There are a lot of voices that speak into his life.
“Men do not thrive in an atmosphere of negativity,” Litton said. “They will shut down and withdraw.”
Litton also tackled the topic of sex.
“Our whole society is broken about sex,” Litton said. “You’re not going to hear those realities from the culture about what sex is intended to be.”
She stressed the importance of holding high what God meant marriage to be: between one woman and one man. She stressed the need for communication between husband and wife in this area.
Frank tackled the topics of burnout and parenting.
In her “Battling Burnout” session, Frank stressed that burnout remains the number one “threat to your husband’s legacy” while pastor’s wives’ face washout.
“We burn out when we serve in the flesh,” Frank said. “If you’re spending yourself for the Kingdom of God but you’re spending the finite part of you, you will become exhausted.”
But ladies will wash out when they withdraw. “Sometimes ministry is grubby,” she said.
“Sometimes people say things that hurt you … we build hedges around our lives; we’re afraid to be vulnerable; we’re afraid to be authentic.”
Other mistakes include failing to sow, sowing in poor soil or disconnecting from your calling.
She encouraged the ladies to take a healing Sabbath by being present, restored and renewed.
“You need a Sabbath,” said Frank as she encouraged the ladies to make their priority “the glory of His name and the sake of the gospel. Everything else is just fluff.”
Frank shared that the women did not owe anyone transparency but they do “owe everybody authenticity.”
She stressed that the legacy of someone’s life is built for the long haul. Women need to partner with their husbands to set boundaries within ministry.
Frank admits a fear of raising “bratty” preacher’s kids.
“I didn’t want to mess my kids up,” she said. “Whether our children are in our home or out on their own, we can trust God fearlessly with their welfare spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. Parenting is a stewardship of love for the glory of God.”
Frank encouraged the women to not “let the devil get to you with that ‘mommy guilt.’ You’re going to find something to feel bad about. We just really need to support each other.”
Women should look for evidence of God’s power, take God at His Word and step into action, Frank said.
“Your family is a picture of the gospel in human form,” she said. “A marriage is a gospel presentation. Everyone in your neighborhood is watching.”
Embrace also has events planned in the fall, including a mission trip to Boston (deadline to apply is May 1), discipleship training and a women’s retreat.
Visit embracenc.org for more information; click on “Events.”