Earlier today my good friend Ben Midgley spoke to our local Ministers' Fraternal on 'Tips for preacher's confidante'. It was Ladies' Day, so pastors could bring their wives along, hence the focus on 'confidantes'.
Ben introduced the subject in a typically lively and interesting way. The Lord has given us wives that they might be suitable helpers for us (Genesis 2:18). How may pastors' wives best help ther husbands to be better preachers and pastors? A good way to approach this question is to look at the pastoral practice of the apostles. We worked through several passages in Acts that give us a glimpse into the apostles' pastoral work. Rather than commenting on these verses himself, Ben invited discussion from the meeting. There were insightful contributions from pastors and their wives.
Acts 5:3-4 - Peter treated Ananias and Sapphira as grown-ups not children, holding them accountable for their actions.
Acts 6:2-4 - The apostles prioritized prayer and preaching, but did not neglect practical matters. They delegated work to other suitably godly and gifted men rather than micromanaging everything themselves.
Acts 8:20-23 - Peter denounced Simon Magus for offering to buy the ability to bestow the Holy Spirit. We should not be swayed by those who hold the purse strings. In church life he who pays the piper may not call the tune.
Acts 11:4-17 - Peter showed good people skills in explaining his actions to the church. He carried the church with him so that by the end of his address they shared his vision and glorified God for saving the Gentiles.
Acts 15:1 - Paul and Barnabas were willing to stand up to false teachers whose doctrine undermined the gospel and threatened the unity of the church. We need to confront heresy and be willing to stand up to those who would divide the church on secondary matters.
Acts 15:32-35 - At Antioch men with various gifts collaborated to strengthen the believers. We should be willing to allow others to share in the work of exhorting and teaching the church. Is our preaching strengthening believers?
Acts 19:9 - Paul was willing to listen as well as speak.
Acts 20:7-11 - Paul showed even handling of different people and circumstances.
Various points were also made with regard to the manner of the apostles' preaching as evidenced in their letters.
Variety and liveliness. Warmth, humanity and engagement. Intimate without being light, or insubstantial. Deep communion. Variety of tone, adaptability. Respectful to from, practicality and courtesy. Tackling different subjects firmly. Appropriate poetry. Presence. Ultimately Christ centred, reverent and worshipful of God.
With this checklist in mind our longsuffering wives should be able to offer constructively critical feedback when we ask "How do you think the service went tonight, love?"
After the meeting we had a lovely alfresco lunch. An encouraging time was had by all.