Today we are pleased to continue our interview with Mary Mohler:
What are some of the challenges you face as the wife of a man with many responsibilities? How would you counsel other women in a similar situation—whether pastors’ wives or those married to men with demanding jobs?
The challenges are certainly there but one must always keep them in perspective. There are always trade-offs! The challenge that I would like to address in particular is how to balance home life in the midst of a demanding schedule.
Remind your kids that, yes, Dad is away from home a great deal but he is doing the Lord’s work. From an early age, they need to understand, for example, that Daddy will be home soon but he is telling people about Jesus at someone else’s church today as we are sharing him with them. There should be a big celebration when he comes home. It’s true that the ministry is a 24/7 job in so many ways. Tragedies sometimes happen to members of the seminary community even when we are supposed to finally be on vacation. Yet we must be diligent to turn our attention to those who are grieving and ensure that our children feel compassion as well so that no bitterness springs up.
I have always guarded our family calendar like a bulldog! I am a planner so I like to get the big picture in writing and anticipate coming events with joy. It has always been important for our kids to know that Dad may be gone all week this week, but next week, we have a, b, and c to look forward to, such as favorite meal night. I schedule a favorite meal night for each of us during the course of the year. It’s a simple way to build anticipation for family time around the table. We also plan special evenings each summer when I spend time alone with one of the kids on the same night that Al spends time alone with the other one. We are all much more likely to enjoy the time we spend together as a family when we realize that it has been a long semester full of many events and trips but now it’s worth it all because we can just have fun.
I also recommend limiting children’s extracurricular activities. We try to have dinner together every night that it is possible. I fear that too many families just pass in the night and are involved in so many sports, lessons and even church activities that they simply don’t connect in a meaningful way daily. Children thrive on a schedule. Especially in the midst of their dad’s high profile position, it has been vital for my children to know that we strive to maintain a sense of normalcy as a family. We stress how thankful to God we are for establishing our family and how thankful we are for each other. We are eager to spend time together every day—and have lots of fun in the process.
There are other challenges too, of course, that your readers would voice. There is the issue to friendships within the church or ministry; the common struggle of loneliness felt by many and for some, the desire to shun the spotlight even though your husband is in it all of the time. These concerns must be dealt with and not buried to prevent what we have sadly seen in too many cases. How many ministries have been damaged or even destroyed because the ministry wife was so unhappy, discontent or bitter that her husband was forced to resign? Please don’t let that happen to you. Satan would love nothing better than to use issues like these to drive a wedge through your marriage and then your ministry. Be on alert for warning signs. Stay connected to the Lord through prayer and the consistent study of His Word. Seek godly counsel through a mentor. Praise God for the results.
What are your responsibilities as Director of Seminary Wives Institute and what do you enjoy most about your interaction with these wives of potential pastors?
I love my work with SWI. I handle the administrative duties related to scheduling, budgets, curriculum and all of the paperwork that goes along with running a certificate program for about 250 students. I also teach and grade about five different courses each academic year. I must be careful that I do not let it become a full time job because my passion for it is so strong. If you would have told me that I would establish and direct such a program, I would have not believed it at all as I had no clear direction from the Lord about this when we first came back to Southern. However, as God brought change to our campus, the need was clearly evident for preparation for the women who would serve alongside their husbands in ministry. Seminary Wives Institute was warmly welcomed and recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. I could write volumes about how it has changed me as it has changed all who participate. I must always point out that I have the most wonderful team of faculty wives who teach with me on a volunteer basis because they too love student wives. This program would fold without the godly and selfless input of our stellar faculty. Our students are so grateful for the opportunity they have to study with us and with seminary faculty as well for such a nominal fee. God has taken this program beyond what I ever dared to dream it could be. It has become a recruiting draw for us as well. I love to see the lights come on as our students learn the truth of God’s word applied to their calling as ministry wives.