We looked a few months ago at the quality of love, which is the most needful quality of all. This is the quality that makes us most like Christ. Here are some other qualities for us to consider:
Good Manners, Tact, and Courtesy
These qualities seem to be lacking greatly in our society. But for anyone that works day-in and day-out with other people, they are a necessity. Good manners are simply a matter of doing the right thing in the kindest way possible. Tact comes in handy when you have to deal with sticky issues or sticky people. Sometimes just the way we say things makes all the difference in the world. Courtesy is treating others like you would like to be treated.
Learn the art of conversation, and how to conduct yourself around others. Learn good table manners, and teach them to your children. Carelessness in these areas can be a real deterrent to those in spiritual leadership since it can offend others and limit opportunities. There are many good books available if you have a problem in this area. Go to your library and get busy reading and working on this area.
You must also exercise tact in handling people problems. When you deal with people every day, sometimes situations come up that are sticky. Avoid putting people on the defensive. If an embarrassing situation arises, try to smooth it over and make them as comfortable as possible. A lady always avoids sarcasm.
Remember, the spiritual admonition that we are to “speak the truth in love.” If something cannot be said lovingly and tactfully, then don’t say it at all. Simply “telling it like it is” or “giving them a piece of your mind” is not necessarily following biblical principles. My dad used to tell me, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything.” Good advice!
What if someone asks you a personal question that should not be asked? You should try not to be sensitive. Assume that the person just doesn’t know better. Sometimes the only solution is just to say frankly, “I’m sorry, but that is a personal question and I would rather not discuss it.”
The lady in a place of leadership should always be very cautious about embarrassing others with personal questions that are none of her business. Even pastor’s wives can sometimes forget this. It is easy to be offensive if you are not careful. Also, remember to be very careful about even spiritual questions that are asked in public. In most cases, it is not wise to ask personal questions in a public setting. Save those questions for a one on one session.
Being Able to Speak Correctly
As a Christian Leader’s wife, you will often be called upon to speak. Many think just because your husband is a pastor or a missionary, you also have the ‘gift of gab’ and just naturally know how to speak. This is an area that I have struggled with for years. I am more of a background person, not liking the attention of being center stage. But over the years, it is an area that I have had to cultivate in my life.
If you have a real fear of speaking in public, it would be helpful to take some speech courses, to help you overcome that fear. If you are not comfortable with your grasp of the English language, it would be helpful to take some refresher English courses.
Be sure when you speak that you enunciate your words clearly, and that you speak loud enough that everyone can hear you. You may need to get training in speech or voice so that you will use your voice correctly and avoid strain. Learn the rules of grammar and apply them in both your speaking and your writing.
The Art of Listening to Others
A woman who listens carefully to others will seem very intelligent! Over and over the book of Proverbs warns of the danger of being hasty with our words (Proverbs 15:28, 18:13, 15:23, 16:1). Listening carefully to others will keep you from making many errors of rash judgment.
Learn to ask good questions that will help others to open up. A woman who listens and learns from others will always be growing. Every man knows something that I do not know—therefore every man is my teacher. That is a tremendous truth to apply in the matter of listening. It prevents the pride of thinking you know it all, and will increase your knowledge if you make it a practice to listen well.
Many times a person who has a need in her life will be helped and encouraged simply by your attentive, thoughtful listening. Many times I have simply listened as people poured out their frustration. I have not said much but just nodded here or there, and then offered a few verses of Scripture and a prayer. Usually when they leave, this is what they say. “Oh, thank you for your time. You have helped me so much.” Often the best help we can give is just listening, and caring, and praying.
This is the truth that Isaiah spoke of in Isaiah 50:4, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” Many times people don’t need a sermon or a lecture. They just need a listening ear, and a few words of encouragement. As a woman in leadership, two of your biggest assets will be an “educated tongue” to speak a word in season, and an “educated ear” to listen to the troubled ones.
The art of listening also involves the quality of discretion. A woman in leadership must never reveal confidences. In First Timothy 3:11, God says that the wife of the deacon must be “grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.” Titus 2:4-5 tells us that we are to be discreet.
The temptation to gossip is a real one that women in leadership positions must watch out for. Control of the tongue is vital. Before repeating a matter, ask yourself these questions:
* Am I absolutely sure my information is true?
* Is it really necessary for me to share this?
* Is it kind? Will saying this edify and build up anyone?
If the matter does not meet all three tests, then don’t repeat it. If you follow that simply test, it will save you lots of trouble and grief. It will also keep your mouth shut, which is usually best!
Beverly is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and Doug Hammett have been married for over 35 years. Since her father was a pastor and her husband was already a pastor when she married him, she is well acquainted with the blessings as well as the problems of the ministry! Bev’s favorite things to do are read and spend time with her family.
In Autumn of 2010, Doug stepped aside from his position as senior pastor at LVBC to reach and train men in Botswana and South Africa. Beverly continues to write for our ladies publication, giving her unique perspective of life in the ministry, and now life on the mission field. You can read more about their ministry here.