Manuscript Releases, vol. 6 [Nos. 347-418]


The Minister and His Wife

I have been shown some things with reference to _____'s traits of character, and I now feel it to be my duty to write you; for unless changes are made, she will be a draw back to her husband in his work. _____ is naturally selfish. In her home life she has shunned responsibilities, and has been ready to let others perform the duties which devolved upon her. This is a bad experience, and warps the character. She has shunned caretaking, and if this spirit is carried into her married life, it will be a great hindrance to her. 6MR 40.2

She must learn to bear the responsibilities she has shunned; for she is now a mother, and has a mother's care and responsibilities. There is danger that the deficiencies manifested in her character will be moulded into her married life, and that she will neglect to perform the duties she owes to her child. A mother has greater work to do for her child than merely to feed, and dress, and caress it. There are stern duties connected with the training of a child. I see that you are both neglecting those duties. Your child rules you. She controls you, and in permitting this, you are not doing your duty.—Letter 1, 1877, pp. 1, 2. (To Brother and Sister _____, December 17, 1877.) 6MR 40.3

If you continue to allow your feelings to control you as you have done, you will be a burden to him rather than a blessing. How much better it would be to unite your interest with his, laboring together as consecrated human agents, in saving the souls that are ready to perish. 6MR 41.1

It is essential that missionaries should be all that this word signifies. The wife of the missionary may, through lack of wisdom, counteract the testimony which the Lord requires her husband to bear to the people. 6MR 41.2

The wife of the minister must not at any time follow impulse or give occasion for those with whom she is connected to stumble over her manifest defects of character. If the Spirit of Christ is not manifest in her daily life, then it cannot be otherwise than that she will prove a stumbling stone to many, she will close up the way so that the message which the Lord has given her husband will not reach the hearts of the people. Warning and reproof will reflect back upon his own head, because of the course pursued by his wife. 6MR 41.3

Is the wife exacting? Does she keep her own spirit under control? Is selfishness at times apparent, even when she is in a position of responsibility, connected with those who are urged to give themselves to the work? While her husband is preaching the truth and laboring for individual cases, to prepare them for the canvassing field, will her influence and example give force to his teaching? Jealousy and evil-surmising are calculated to do much harm to the persons with whom she is brought in connection. Such exhibitions have been made even in the presence of young persons who needed to learn what it means to be a Christian. These things are grievous matters before the Lord. When the servant of the Lord, who is bearing the message of truth to the people, sees anything of this kind in his home, he has a work to do in his own family; while he should ever deal kindly, in the spirit of tenderness, he should deal decidedly, whatever the consequences may be.—Manuscript 14, 1892, 5, 6. (“Counsel to a Minister's Wife,” September 19, 1892.) 6MR 41.4

You have a controlling influence over your husband, and if your heart were a treasure house filled with the word of God, if your mind were a channel through which God could work, you could be a great blessing to him. But this is not so, neither has it been. You have not obtained those qualifications which it is essential that the wife of a chosen servant of God should have; and therefore you are unable to give spiritual help and wise counsel to your husband. By your words you have planted suspicion in his mind. You have suggested thoughts to him in reference to his brethren in the faith, which he never would have had had you not suggested them to him. Thus seeds have been planted which were ready to spring into life at any favorable opportunity. 6MR 42.1

My sister, the transforming grace of Christ must be brought into your heart and mind. When the influence of this grace is seen in your life, you will no longer be a hindrance and a cause of temptation to your husband by bringing to his notice things which others have said and done and which you think reflect upon his work in the ministry.—Letter 40, 1893, pp. 1, 2. (To Brother and Sister McCullagh, September, 1893.) 6MR 42.2

The work of God demands most earnest labor, and the Lord would have ministers and their wives closely united in this work. The husband and wife can so blend in labor that the wife shall be the complement of the husband. The Lord desires them unitedly to watch for his voice, to draw closer and still closer unto him, feeding upon his word, and receiving light and blessing to impart to others. They should be as free as possible to attend campmeetings and other general gatherings. And the wife may continually be a great help to her husband in visiting and other personal labor.... The wives of many of the Lord's servants have united heartily with their husbands in the work of saving souls. Through her unselfish interest to advance the cause of God, the wife has made her husband's work much more complete. But with some it is a hard lesson to learn to bring the will into harmony with the will of God. The experience of one sister, as she related it to me some years ago, is full of instruction. 6MR 43.1

She inquired of me: “Do you think I am assuming too great responsibility in seeking to understand the reasons of our faith, so that I can do missionary work with my husband? I greatly desire to grow into a self-sacrificing worker with him. Am I out of my place in trying, as far as possible, to keep pace with him in understanding the Word of God, and the various lines of the work. He has sometimes asked me questions which made me feel that I ought to be able to help see some things in a clearer light. Am I wrong in this earnest desire? I pray much that I may make no mistake. But it seems to me that the relation of husband and wife is most sacred and solemn. If I thought I was bound in marriage ties merely to be petted and treated like a child, that I was to amuse my husband, and he to amuse me, I should be most unhappy. God has given me reason, capabilities, talents, which I must increase by using. I feel that they are a sacred trust, which I must employ to the glory of God. 6MR 43.2

“We once had two dear children, and I allowed my mind to be almost wholly absorbed with them, notwithstanding my husband was often burdened with the cares of his labor, and wanted counsel. I allowed the care of my children to occupy too much of my time, and I gave him so little. He did not complain; but I was blind. Oh, so blind. Even with the care of my children, I could have united with him in searching the Scriptures, and two of one heart can work more successfully than one. I might have learned to copy his letters, and might have assisted him in keeping his accounts. But when I thought of this, I excused myself, saying, He knows I have my hands full. I was proud of my children, and bought many needless little things to dress them, and spent time needlessly in preparing their clothing to excite admiration. I know now that my children were my idols. I loved them before the Lord. I allowed them to absorb my interest, so that I had little time to qualify myself to help souls. 6MR 44.1

“When my little ones were removed from me by death, I murmured and wept as if I were hardly dealt with. I would not be consoled for my loss. I would not admit that my husband loved the children fully as much as I did. I made his heart sad by my rebellious grief. But my eyes were opened, and I saw my error. I saw that he realized the value of the souls of his children, because he was a physician of souls, and he placed a higher estimate upon his loved ones than I did. 6MR 44.2

“My selfish sorrow nearly killed me, and crippled my husband in his labors. But the Lord had mercy upon us, and he let me see the selfishness of my heart. Now I am as one awakened out of a deep sleep. I am not in the world to amuse myself, to seek to be amused or petted, or to work in my own selfish interests. I am here to do my duty. I try to show that I respect and honor my husband by being interested in his work in the various lines of the cause of God. I no longer make myself miserable over the things I cannot help, but try to adapt myself to circumstances. If the Lord sees fit to give me another child, I shall hold it, not as a plaything, but as a sacred entrusted charge; not as an idol, but as a soul that I am to train for the courts above. 6MR 45.1

“I am trying to help my husband bear his burdens. I do most of his copying. The work was not pleasant to me at first, but I have overcome my dislike for it. I no longer feel that sentimentalism must be brought into our experience in our married life. As God's workmen, we should be seeking to do him service, to honor his name, keeping the eye fixed upon Jesus, and encouraging each other to work for Christ. My husband says he can rest and I can encourage him now, because we are so interested to save souls for Christ. I had for a time to study hard and pray much to overcome my weakness of character, and become in some degree, what a woman should be, a true helpmeet. I desire not to lead into sin as did Eve, but with a firm hold upon Jesus. I would lead away from sin, and pride, and love of show, into the quiet parts of meekness and lowliness of heart.” 6MR 45.2

Then she said that she had been advised to take an infant to bring up. She asked if I thought it her duty to do this. I advised her to take this question to God. I told her that she should be closely united with her husband in his work. She should keep his respect and love as a true woman whom God was teaching and leading. “You can,” I said, “cultivate an aptitude to work for the children. You can reach their hearts and win them to Christ. Those children you may bring to the gates of the city of God, with your own little ones, saying, ‘Here are we, father, mother, children, and a large number whom thou hast given us as sheaves for Christ.’”—Manuscript 35, 1896, 2-6. (“Adopting Infant Children,” December, 1896.) 6MR 46.1

You have a wife and children. Your wife has home duties, and you must not depend upon her to accompany you, and she must not depend upon you, feeling that she must be always with you. When you can do so, unite your efforts; when you cannot unite them, do your individual work manfully, drawing inspiration from righteous principles, from fixed religious principles and from convictions as to what God expects of you. If you do not feel that you are a part of God's great firm, then arouse yourself to realize the situation, face your responsibilities as one who must give account for your talent of time. If you have the abiding love of Christ in your heart, you would do your best for Christ's sake who gave his life for you.—Letter 126, 1900, pp. 3, 4. (To Brother Hickox, August 5, 1900.) 6MR 46.2