"If you think it's tough being a minister's wife, you ought to try being a Shepherdess Coordinator!" a friend exclaimed to me once. She was the wife of our new president and she declared she would never again take on the role of Shepherdess Coordinator. Some of her reasons for this decision follow: if You usually have to deal with your husband to get money or support for the wives to attend ministers' meetings.
- The wives of the ministers are so fraught with over-work and over-burden syndrome, you have to be the feminine version of Solomon to minister to them as they really deserve.
- There are many ministers' wives who feel totally unworthy of the calling in which they find themselves and react to that feeling by withdrawing from any participation in Shepherdess activities.
- Some ministers' wives just don't like the concept of Shepherdess and don't want to have anything to do with it.
Is It a Difficult Job?
Such reasons support the idea that being a Shepherdess Coordinator is a very difficult job. However, it is difficult only if you allow it to be. If you are newly appointed to this position, it is a good idea to do some personal soul-searching. The following are some suggestions:
- Jot down your own reactions to previous Shepherdess programs and activities and sort out why you responded negatively or positively.
- Ask the Shepherdess Coordinator at the Union or Division for a copy of any constitution or guidelines there may be.
- Work out some goals or priorities for yourself during your term of office. This will take some thought and prayer, because your goals should be oriented towards ministry to others' needs, not your own. When you have written down your goals, scrutinize them and choose only the one or two most important and concentrate only on them.
- Remember ministers' wives are very individual women. Often the only thing they have in common is that they happen to be married to ministers. So they must not be taken for granted. The Shepherdess Coordinator must treat each lady as a special and individual person.
- Keep Shepherdess activities to a minimum. Ministers' wives are very busy people and too many activities become a chore rather than a pleasure.
- Not every minister's wife will want to participate in what the Shepherdess Coordinator plans. Remember, they don't have to come. Some may not be able to come; some may not want to come; some may not feel they fit in. So the Shepherdess Coordinator must not be offended nor take it personally if some ladies don't attend the programs.
The following are some ideas for activities you may want to plan:
- Form a committee. This is a good idea for larger conferences. It allows for lots of input and generates plans which an individual coordinator cannot do alone.
- Send newsletters. Monthly or quarterly communications are a wonderful idea, especially for isolated ministers' wives. The Journal, edited by Sharon Cress for the Ministerial Association of the General Conference, can be sent out with a quarterly letter. It is greatly appreciated.
- Create telephone friendships or prayer partners. These can be organized by sending out a letter inviting those interested to respond. Ask respondents to list interests and hobbies. Then partnerships can be arranged for a six-month period. At the end of that time, the partnership can be swapped around. Sometimes lasting friendships are formed from this. The country ladies are so grateful for the occasional phone call from a friend.
- Plan fellowship afternoons. Once or twice a year, a time of fellowship can be planned. It is best to keep the activities and topics at a light level so as not to be threatening, especially if the group does not know each other very well. Activities may include a devotional talk. Each person may quote her favorite Bible promise or share wisdom tips learned from past experiences. The setting may be in a park or at a pretty café.
- Prepare a special dinner for ministers and their wives. This type of activity can't be done too often, but perhaps it could be planned during workers' meetings or camp erection. But don't forget to plan for the children. Either include them or arrange for child care.
- Include camps for ministers' wives. Some conferences run these every couple of years, some annually. Small conferences can combine with larger ones. These retreats offer spiritual enrichment, social bonding, and a refreshing break from home and church duties. The ladies who are able to attend gain a great blessing.
If you are asked to be involved in Shepherdess, consider it seriously and prayerfully. If you are able, accept the challenge. It fulfills a great ministry for some of the most wonderful of God's true daughters.