You will know that the married pastors who have served at St Thomas’ have each had a wonderful wife and I thought I would pick out seven things that make me deeply grateful for Kathy who has contributed here every bit as much as I have for the past thirty years.
1. She has the heart and mind for gospel ministry
Kathy’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all ministers so she is steeped in the work. Poor girl you would hope she would marry a fireman or a pilot but no…another minister. But she brought to our marriage a theological heritage brain and heart – each first class in every way. It has been such a privilege to have someone ahead of me in biblical insight who thinks hard about Christian doctrine and the application to hard areas of life. Kathy has kept her mind sharp with scripture and books through all the years and challenges of our marriage. To have someone to think things through with – and stretch me – has been a great gift from God.
2. She is loving and easy with people
What a help to know that your partner is able to love people and empathise with them – not scaring them off with professional expertise or intimidating them with superior piety. Kathy has some inbuilt affection for everybody and thinks the best of people – and keeps thinking the best. I remember watching her Dad sometimes polarise people while her Mum smoothed over the pastoral frictions with her sweetness – and Kathy has done this again and again for me. It is a huge gift to a church to have a pastor with a lovely wife.
3. She encourages and disagrees with me appropriately
Who would listen to their spouse drone on for thirty years or more in the pulpit and stay sane? Somehow she has – and remains teachable and appreciative. The ministry is a privilege but has enormous room for discouragement and Kathy has unfailingly encouraged me. It is a precious thing to hear the biblical reasons to keep going and you have no idea how often she has carried that load. But if I have crazy ideas or unbalanced reactions to things she will tell me. How grateful I am for her independence to tell me at the right time that I am quite wrong. [But when I go away to speak somewhere she will tuck into my suitcase a lovely card telling me I’m the greatest…and also about five kilograms of confectionary!]
4. She has balanced well the home family and church family
If our children have sometimes wondered whether their Dad is listening – or thinking about some church issue –it’s never like that with Kathy. She has listened well, known all their joys and struggles and continues to talk them through dramas. But she has also been part of church – whether Sunday morning and evening or midweek events. She launched the Sunday School and then ‘Women on Tuesday’ with a commitment that women could meet to think as well as share. She continues to meet with a handful of individuals each week to read and pray – now that our children are flown. Both ‘families’ have benefited.
5. She has been a good influence in the community
Kathy began taking notes for deaf students at TAFE nearly thirty years ago and has kept up a small job with students with disability since then. Her kindness in the work means students insist on getting her as their tutor – and students and staff call on her continually for advice. She has been given more decision making roles and – without offending the protocol – has shared her faith, given away books and bibles and brought people to hear the gospel. Her one foot in the normal world has helped us both.
6. She has used her gifts and been generous
Whether drawing for children’s lessons or many hours making craft for Atoms children (in the evening on Sunday) this has been a labour of love [Think how Ali too produces props that take time to prepare and are gone in seconds]. Kathy has been a lovely hostess, an excellent cook and a Mum to many younger Mums. The much-used St Thomas card is her handiwork too. She has cross stitched toys and texts for people and buys extra copies of books she has enjoyed to pass on.
7. She has been a true friend to talk and pray with
I thank God for His closeness to His people. Truly He is a Lover and Bridegroom whose affection and steadfast love is greater than any person can provide. But His gift of a spouse is also a great kindness and to talk to someone like Kathy who listens and thinks and takes an interest (way beyond what my topic deserves!) is invaluable. And to pray together is precious – and how often we have seen God’s merciful answers.
We both feel our wretchedness keenly but when the bible says “a wife of noble character who can find?” (Proverbs 31:10) I think that I – and St Thomas – have been blessed in Kathy.