The Sanctity of Life observance is an excellent opportunity to consider the uniqueness of each member of your congregation. As the pastor’s wife, you can influence your church to embrace each precious person who comes through your doors.
You probably are familiar with the famous song “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Maybe you grew up singing it in Sunday School class. The phrase, “they are precious in His sight,” is fitting for January, which is Sanctity of Human Life Month. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan established Sanctity of Human Life Day by presidential proclamation. Since then, churches have participated in abortion awareness on the third Sunday of January. Perhaps there have been sermons on this theme or special mention during public prayer at your church. This year, the Sanctity of Life observance is an excellent opportunity to consider the uniqueness of each member of your congregation—young or old.
There may be children and adults worshiping with you who have special needs. They are an essential part of your congregation because the Lord created each of us in His image (Genesis 1:26). This biblical principle is the basis for placing worth on individuals, no matter their cognitive or physical abilities. These individuals are vital to the body (1 Corinthians 12:14). Each one is indispensable, as we read in 1 Corinthians 12:22. Let us consider a few suggestions for how you, as the pastor’s wife, can be an influence in your church as your body seeks to embrace each precious person who comes through your doors.
1. Reach out to those who suffer in your church
Others will see your welcoming attitude toward those who are blind, deaf, have Down syndrome, or are sitting in wheelchairs or using walkers. Other disabilities are less visible, such as autism. When you greet each of these people, you are imitating Christ. Jesus reached out to the weak and lowly amongst him. He heard the blind man and the leper(s) cry out (Luke 18:35-43, Matthew 8:1-4, Luke 17:11-19). He went to the pool of Bethesda to find a lame man who needed healing (John 5:1-9). Paul calls his readers to “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). The pastor’s wife can give the same exhortation, “watch me as I follow Christ’s example.” Just modeling a warm greeting to each person expresses Christlikeness.
2. Identify the needy among you and accommodate them
After you identify the needy among you, you might discover they have unique needs that your building doesn’t accommodate. Some of us worship in older buildings that need some upgrades. You might realize that the grandmother in a wheelchair has to negotiate steps and that you need to build a ramp. The hearing impaired might need access to a headset to amplify the service. A family with an autistic child might appreciate a quiet room where they can hear the sermon through a sound system. Our former church was built in the 1950s and had ramps to get inside, but after a woman started attending in a wheelchair, we realized our restrooms weren’t accessible. We began renovations as soon as possible. The disabled person might not mention a need, but if you become involved in their life, you might realize your church has unintended barriers. The pastor’s wife has a voice to speak up for needed changes.
3. Become friends with those in need and understand how to serve them
For example, the first time a blind lady came to my house for a party, I noticed that she appreciated me saying my name before I started talking to her. I watched others and learned how best to serve her. Others might notice and learn from you. When you get to know the family of an autistic child, you will find out that the parents could use a respite to take care of their marriage. The pastor’s wife doesn’t necessarily need to be the one to meet this need, but you know those in your church who are best suited to do so. You can be a leader who follows this exhortation in Galatians 6:9-10 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially those of the household of faith.”
4. Get to know families or individuals living with disabilities beyond their physical needs
Learn about their emotional and spiritual needs as well. A woman who uses a wheelchair would probably appreciate a visitor to her home. She might need a friend to talk to about her cares and concerns. The parents of a Down syndrome son might be struggling with knowing God’s loving care and compassion. My friend, whose son has lifelong physical and mental disabilities, appreciates being able to share her worries about his future and how his needs impact her other children. The Lord calls us to weep with those who mourn and to associate with the lowly (Romans 12:15, 16). As the pastor’s wife, you might be called to give spiritual advice or just a listening ear.
A few of my readers might be caring for a disabled child or parent. God has given this unique ministry to you. You may feel as if you are limited in the ways you can serve your church. Perhaps your father has the beginning stages of dementia and needs increasing practical help. Or your mother-in-law had a stroke and depends on you daily. Setting aside your routine jobs at the church to meet these needs can be challenging. It will help you to remember that serving those you love is also a ministry. These frail and dependent people are precious in God’s sight. As you serve them, you are the hands and feet of Jesus. Your Lord declares, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).