Much has been written about elders and their role in God’s plan. However, I would like to address a related topic: elder’s wives. When a man accepts the great task of being an elder, he is not alone in this decision. Before the decision, his wife must be encouraging him, taking an interest in spiritual matters, and
being committed as his spiritual partner, especially in the matters of his home life. Without a godly wife, no man could meet the qualifications required of him to become an elder.
Women — Are Always a Part of God’s Work: — Anna was present in the Temple as the infant Jesus was presented to the Lord (Luke 2:36-38). Phoebe is commended as a “helper of many.” (Rom. 16:1) Priscilla is mentioned in three different cities assisting in the cause for Christ — in Rome; (Rom. 16:3) in Corinth; (Acts 18:1-3), and in Ephesus. (Acts 18:18-26) In each instance, she is noted for working in the church, living the Christian life, and defending the Way. She labored together with her husband to make known this new faith.
There were many others including a certain Mary who “worked hard.” (Rom. 16:6) We read of sisters, Tryphaena and Tryphosa who “labored in the Lord.” (vs. 12) Paul mentions Persis and calls her his dear friend who had “worked hard in the Lord,” (vs. 12) while the mother of Rufus had been like a mother to him also. (vs. 13) After Lydia heard the gospel and was baptized along with other women of her household, (Acts 16) she opened her house to Paul and his companions. During Jesus’ ministry, women were always present. At the cross they stood by Him faithfully. Jesus actually appeared first to women after His
Resurrection. All four gospel accounts reveal that women were told to inform Peter and the others the most fundamental fact of our faith, that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
Under Jewish law in the days of Jesus, women were not given consideration in religion. Jesus, however, gave women a place in the order of things. We have a role — not the role of men, (1 Tim. 2:12) but an important role nonetheless.
God has an order of things. (1 Cor. 11:3) Christ is the Head of every man, man is the head of a woman, and God is Head of Christ. We are all in subjection to someone. Some women ignore this restriction as women preachers become popular in the religious world. Likewise, some men usurp the authority of Christ by teaching and practicing doctrines thought up by men.
Her Qualities and Gifts: — Some women think they can sit next to their husband and ride his faith to heaven. In the New Testament, however, women were actively busy in spiritual things using their talents. Women may have the gift of benevolence, writing poetry and setting words to music. We read of women
teaching others. Since they normally spend more time with their children, women have a keen insight into what is needed most at different stages of the growing years. (1 Tim. 3:14, 15)
Elders’ wives prove invaluable in dealing with female members as some counseling can be a sensitive matter. Wives can be a sounding board for their husbands. They can listen, encourage, and pray for him and his fellow elders.
Listed in the qualifications for elders 1 Tim. 3 are these words, “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.” (vs. 11) The NASB states, “Women must likewise be” and the NIV declares, “In the same way, their wives.” Wives are to be 1) grave — meaning not flighty, giddy, or
self-possessed, 2) not slanderers — not injuring others by idle gossip, 3) temperate — sober and self-controlled, 4) faithful in all things — a broader statement including all avenues of her life. She is to be trustworthy in affairs of the church and the affairs in her daily decisions.
Question: — While we teach our boys to aspire to be an elder, do we at the same time, teach our girls to aspire to be a suitable wife for an elder? Elder’s wives need to have poise, dignity and strength of character. These traits develop over a long time with much study and prayer.
She Must Have Certain Qualifications: — An elder’s wife must learn to share her husband with the duties of his work. Her willingness to serve will help him with his willingness to serve. She must be hospitable and her home should be available. The list goes on. Yet every qualification actually applies to all Christian
women seeking to achieve her role in God’s plan.
Remember to pray for the elders’ wives, and their families. As a daughter and wife of an elder, I am still a work in progress.