The Other Side -- Keeping the Preacher

By a Preacher's Wife

I was somewhat amused and quite disturbed by an article which appeared in a recent issue of this magazine entitled "Keeping the Preacher." I am the wife of a preacher who conducts from twelve to fifteen meetings in a year in addition to doing "located" work. He has stayed in a few hundred homes in many parts of the country, and I have his word for the treatment he has received. I have been with him in a limited number of these homes, so I have a first hand knowledge in a few cases, at least. He' has never reported, nor have I seen, any of the objections which the author of the article raises. He has never mentioned the linens as being too new (or too old); he has never objected to the food served or, the number of meals to which he has been invited. Does not the average preacher eat three meals a day at home? My husband does. Perhaps that is the reason he can conduct so many meetings and neither get sick nor gain weight.

Since I am the wife of a "located" preacher it has been my privilege (or should I say duty?) to keep many visiting preachers. I have felt blessed in almost every instance by so doing. It is to be expected that a preacher will not find things away from home just as he is accustomed to at home. In some cases the family with whom he stays will live far above his own standard and will provide him with such things as he is in no wise accustomed. In other instances, of course, the reverse is true. It is not pleasant having to live out of a suitcase for eight or 1en days at a stretch. In cases where the hostess is able to provide such, he will be offered drawer and closet space for his personal use. He has the responsibility of adjusting his ways to the ways of the household in which ' he finds himself. To fail to do so, to complain about the services he receives, either while there or later, and to fail to make himself congenial is a sad reflection on the preacher himself. Of one thing he can be sure: the family has provided him with the very best they have to offer. There may be several other homes in the congregation where many more conveniences could be offered, but those homes may not be willing to entertain the preacher, and staying there may not be half as pleasant as being in the humbler abode.

My husband has stayed in many homes where there have been children, many of whom were poorly disciplined. They have, in some instances, interfered with his study, but he has never been forced to forego a bath for eight or ten days or to fight for some privacy in the bathroom. Some sort of ingenuity on his part can ordinarily cope with such problems.

There is so much personal work to be done and so many visits of other natures to be made, that the preacher who is interested in the souls of men has very little time in which to see the scenery or yet to visit for hours at a time with his hostess. My husband works during a meeting, and I have never known him to have any time to waste window shopping or loafing in order to avoid being alone with his hostess. No church hires a preacher for a meeting for him to thus waste his time. If be shows an interest in doing the things he should be doing, he will find little time to view the scenery around him, and be will not often have suggestions that he do so. It is the idle preacher that a host and hostess feel called upon to entertain in such a way. There are exceptions, and in some cases he should take time to see something of interest that being in a certain place at a certain time provides an opportunity to see. It is not hard to refuse an invitation when matters of more importance interfere.

When the preacher requests that he go from home to home for only one meal a day, he may be working a great hardship on his hostess because it then becomes her duty to provide him with the other two meals each day. She naturally sets a more generous table for a guest than regularly for her own family, so the preacher may show little consideration for others while thinking of himself. It should be one of his prime concerns to put his hostess as much at ease as he can and require as little extra time as possible. In so many cases the hostess has not entertained a preacher through an entire meeting before and is so eager to please that she does more work than is necessary.

The preacher is trying by the very nature of his work to influence people for good. Having studied the Bible for perhaps many years, he should be able to talk seriously and soberly to all he meets, and the family who keeps him during the meeting should feel spiritually uplifted. Too often, this is not the case. The preacher rarely says a serious thing outside the pulpit. His talk is full of jokes and tall tales. There is a place for frivolity, but in an eight or ten days meeting there should be something else for which the host and hostess remember their guest. I recall hearing a young preacher tell of his experience in a meeting during which he stayed in the home of an old preacher. He said he had never laughed so much in his life. The old preacher told one joke on the heels of another from morning till night. I thought what a great opportunity was lost. The young preacher could have benefited so much by the knowledge and experience of the old man and could have gained such a blessing from the association. The old preacher lost a blessing for himself by not becoming a blessing to another. Both host and guest have a responsibility to see that the time spent profitable and pleasant.

The author of the article under review has written other articles concerning the preacher and his work, along with many on other subjects which I consider of great value, but this article on "Keeping the Preacher" is of such a nature that I f eel that every woman who reads it will hesitate before inviting him to stay in her home for fear that she may not measure up to his idea of a good hostess. She will wonder about every move she makes and everything she says to him or to the members of her family in his presence. Being thus so ill at, ease, she may destroy one of the chief reasons I have for entertaining the preacher: the desire to benefit by my association with a godly man and to share with him what I have to offer in this world's goods.

All preachers need to be able to say with Paul: "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content."

Sign me: The wife of a preacher who has only gratitude for the way he has been treated in the many, many homes in which he has been privileged to stay throughout over thirty years of preaching.

November 1968