Each year since marrying my husband, we’ve made our way to various host cities for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Since we are in the middle of seminary studies – a station in life with which many can resonate – we do this creatively and only because the Lord providentially continues to provide for it to happen.
Between carpooling with friends, staying with family along the route, eating sandwiches in our hotel room and splitting meals when eating out, we’ve managed to afford these trips each time the Lord has made it clear He wants us to go. I just have to pause to say how thankful I am that we don’t serve a God who makes us read between the lines but one who is clear in His guidance. He often makes me laugh at His clarity in the almost humorous way He steers our lives.
Even when it seemed that we might not be attending this year or that year, things just fell into place to make sure we were there. I’m just a newbie in ministry wife land, but I can tell you that after only a few years of seeing the Lord actively direct us to attend the annual meeting, I have become more and more convinced that it has far more to do with divine planning than happy accident.
And I’m beginning to get a glimpse of just why the Lord would make sure we join in this gathering each year. It seems there is just something marvelous about spending half a week out of the year with as many other Southern Baptists as possible. Scripture tells us how crucial it is that believers gather together to encourage each other (Hebrews 10:25), admonish each other (1 Thessalonians 5:14), sharpen each other (Colossians 3:16) and pray with each other (Matthew 18:20) – all things that happen at our convention’s annual meeting.
So, as the Pastors’ Conference and SBC annual meeting draw nearer and you decide how to spend your third week of June 2015, let me encourage you, ministry wife, to join your husband in Columbus.
Here are just a few reasons to get this on your calendar if at all possible:
1. There are events especially for ministry wives. For me, the highlight of any convention week is the Ministers’ Wives Luncheon. In addition to hearing from top-notch speakers and the joyous time of worship, I love getting to spend a couple of hours around a table with a handful of women from across our convention. Some of them are new, like myself, and some of them have decades of experience and wisdom they’re willing to share with you over a cup of coffee. What a sweet treasure to leave a new city with six new friends from around the nation.
There’s also the Pastors’ Wives Conference, which you can attend for free. (In fact, most of the events held this week are free with just a few exceptions, and many of the events offer free books and resources to those who attend. So, if you pack like the average female, you might consider bringing an extra suitcase for the things you’d like to take home.) The wives conference, on Monday, June 15, from 8 a.m. until noon, is a fabulous time of worship, laughter, prayer and encouragement. You also don’t want to miss all the booths set up by various ministries that offer resources specifically for ministry wives and women’s ministry.
Also, new this year is the Tea at 3 event hosted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and open to all women. Tea at 3, created to help women connect with each other, will be Monday afternoon, June 15, from 3-4 p.m. in the Hyatt. I was curious about what to expect at this new event, so I checked with Southwestern’s dean of women’s programs, Terri Stovall, and she had this to say about Tea at 3:
“We will have ‘3-minute connection points’ where women like Rhonda Kelley, Susie Hawkins, Ann Iorg, Chris Adams, Candi Finch and others will give a three-minute highlight of some resource or opportunity specifically for women. We have free resources from six different publishers for the first 100 who attend plus some other great door prizes. It will be a fun, fast-paced hour and great place to connect with friends.”
Sounds so fun – and so girly! I will definitely be marching myself over to that event.
2. Yet, attending the meeting does far more than help encourage you and bolster your walk with the Lord. It helps bring those same benefits home to whoever comprises your ministry. Whether God has made your main ministry for the moment your husband and children, an energetic group of high school girls or the entire list of female members in your church (or all three), God can use your attendance at the annual meeting to train and renew you so that when you return home, you can serve and impact these people with his message.
Keep in mind, this is the very thing Satan would love NOT to happen. If he can keep you burnt out, overwhelmed and downtrodden, he will. So if you had an inkling a moment ago that, yes, maybe you should join your husband for the annual meeting, but almost as quickly became besieged with a million reasons not to go, examine those reasons to see if they are legitimate or the ploys of a devil who wants nothing more than to make you a less effective servant of Christ Jesus. I’m not saying every person who reads this should go but I am urging you to make it a real matter of prayer.
3. Most important, you should join your husband because it will help him. When you go with your husband, he’s also able to join other ministry couples for dinner with his ministry teammate by his side and avoid awkward third-wheel situations. Additionally, you both will hear many of the same messages, motions and resolutions. When you’re clued-in, so to speak, about everything from laws impacting churches to doctrinal stances of the convention, you become a better conversation partner – things that will serve both your church and your marriage well.
Sweet friends, God has ordained us as our husbands’ permanent helpers. This job is critical, one we must never take lightly; the eternity of so many people literally hangs in the balance. I pray that if there is any way you can make it, you’ll join me at this year’s annual meeting. I’m confident it will be a fruitful and refreshing time that you won’t soon forget.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sharayah Colter is a newswriter for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)