Each year since marrying my husband, we’ve made our way to various host cities to attend the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. 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 continues providentially to provide for it to happen each time.
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 yearly trips when the Lord makes it clear that 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 has seemed that we might not be attending this year or that year, things just fell into place beforehand 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.
As we place year after year in our rearview mirror, I’m also beginning to get a small glimpse of just why it is that the Lord would work behind the scenes with such vigor to make sure we join in this gathering each year. It seems there is just something marvelous about spending half a week out of the whole year with as many other Southern Baptists as possible. Scripture tells us how crucial it is that believers gather together to encourage each other (Heb. 10:25), admonish each other (1 Thess. 5:14), sharpen each other (Col. 3:16) and pray with each other (Matt. 18:20)—all things that happen at our convention’s annual meeting.
Spending a few days each year to worship, fellowship and conduct business with brothers and sisters in Christ always adds fuel to the proverbial ministry tank. So, as this year’s pastors’ conference and 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 why you really should get this on your calendar if at all possible:
- There are events especially for ministry wives. For me, the absolute highlight of any convention week is the Ministers’ Wives Luncheon. (Tickets are still available here.) In addition to hearing from top notch ministry women selected as speakers and the joyous time of worship, I love getting to spend a couple of hours sitting around a table with a handful of women from across our convention. These ladies know ministry life with all its ups and downs. 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 will be held Monday, June 15 from 8 a.m. until noon. This women-only morning session is a fabulous time of worship, laughter, prayer and encouragement. You don’t want to miss it, and 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. And remember, where there are women’s ministries, there is chocolate. Enough said.
Also, new this year is the Tea at 3 event hosted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and open to all women. This event, created to help women connect with each other and to give them a chance to enjoy tea with friends, will be held Monday afternoon (June 15) from 3-4 p.m. in the Hyatt. I was curious 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, Chris Adams, Ann Iorg, Susie Hawkins, 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.
- Yet, attending the meeting does far more than just help you, encourage you and help bolster your spiritual walk with the Lord. Attending the meeting helps you bring those same benefits home to whomever 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 that is THE VERY THING Satan would love to NOT 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 this, but almost as quickly became besieged with a million reasons not to go, examine those reasons closely 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.
- Most importantly, you should join your husband because it will help your husband. Right off the bat, when you travel with your husband, you help to curtail temptations that might be waiting for him in his hotel room—a serious matter about which all of us must remain vigilant. I’m reminded of how Scripture tells us to “catch all the little foxes” that would love to sneak in and ruin marriage relationships. This is just one opportunity we have as wives to be on fox duty simply by traveling with our husbands.
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, joining him allows you both to 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 throughout the convention, you become a better sounding board for your husband and 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 a critical one and one we cannot afford to 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 regret or soon forget.
Here’s to hoping maybe you and I will be seated together at the Ministers’ Wives Luncheon or bump into one another at tea. I sure would love to get to know you!
See you in Columbus, friend!