Sweet Pea with hat and lots of sunscreen
We hosted a seminar in our home. About 50 or so ministers of the gospel attended. The presenter was Dr. Woodberry. Not only is he a well-educated man; he is an experienced man in overseas work.
I watched him.
He has written books and given lectures and been a speaker. He stayed in our home. He was well into his 70’s. His flight to us was at least 29 hours. International flights take their toll on our physical bodies. I couldn’t see that he was tired.
I watched how he conducted himself. There were several things I observed. When he was teaching us, he was fully engaged. His familiarity with the material gave us confidence that he was more that his reputation. He knew what he was talking about! During break he was fully engaged with those who were eager to brush shoulders with a man whose reputation preceded him. He did not back away from it. He listened and responded, gave input and did not seem tired or bored. After a quick lunch with these colleagues he returned to rest. The afternoon sessions were just as full and intense. He was fully there. He went to dinner with groups and returned at a reasonable hour. The night we had an impromptu dinner around our large table, he engaged all of us there especially the younger men. He retired to his room and woke up early. We had breakfast food, tea and coffee ready for our guests. We had 5 other people staying with us that week. He came down,got his breakfast, was polite in an old world way and went back upstairs.
He was preparing. He rested, reflected, studied and prayed to be prepared for his work at hand.
The group was mostly men as so many of these things are. Dr. Woodbury told these men to give their wives time for preparation to minister! Let me say that again. He told the men to give their wives time to prepare to minister! Then he gave examples from his own marriage. He considered his wife as a partner in ministry and a full minster of the gospel and respected that. He also recognized she had valuable ministry opportunities he never would.
He also told the leaders in the group to encourage and see that the women on the teams were afforded the same opportunity.
Now why did he share this particular wisdom and instruction out of his wealth of knowledge and experience? He valued his fellow minister and co-worker. His desire was to see ministry done well and effectively. He did more that acknowledge the need for preparation. He was saying it was a necessary and integral part of ministering! He knew the mindset of both men and women.
He said to not let your wife dash out of the door without an hour or so to prepare and pray prior to leaving for any appointment, class or meeting that involved ministry. That could include meeting for lunch or coffee or a teaching time. Don’t show up right as she needs to go out the door leaving her unprepared. Leaving with a distracted heart. Not covering the time with prayer. Respecting this ministry opportunity as valuable.
Wow! Framing the time needed to minister included the preparation. Giving her time to be alone to prepare. Taking care of the cleaning, laundry, meals, dishes or kids.
This was a reminder and challenge for me. In fact it so spoke to my heart I knew that was why sometimes I felt like I had failed during a ministry opportunity. The failure started in the preparation. I remembered a teacher from long ago who said she had to spend Monday with preparing for Tuesday study as her focus not doing the Monday “weekend dig out” . Why? She heard God’s reminder to not take this lightly. I had fallen into the habit of self-reliance. The thinking only I could do this or that in the home. Of not planning my time well. I did not take intentional action to avoid that trap! In my case, it was my failing that did not allow for the time needed. It was not my husband’s fault.
I have years of experience and lots of education and training. If I am teaching a class or seminar I spend ample time prepping the lessons or talk. I did this even when my kids were younger and needed more of mommy. Sadly, I often relied on my own knowledge and experience to carry me through. More that a bit of pride there too.
But to consider a lunch meeting with someone who I was ministering to including co-workers was a new thought. My husband and I prayed for our teams. We prayed about this and that. Usually my habit had been to consider it done after these daily prayers. Later, praying in the taxi or car on the way to the appointment or while finishing last minute details for hosting was fairly typical.
How many opportunities have I sensed and seen slip through my fingers because I was not prepared?
These days of Lent are based on Jesus’s time in the desert. There are many applications and facets we can glean from His time. Later in His public ministry, Withdrawing for prayer in ministry is modeled for us by Him in the gospels. It was a pattern that we would do well to adopt. For Lent, instilling and practicing the art of preparation for specific ministry “events” will be a focus for me.
I appoint you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. John 15:16