How effective would I be on mission if my wife was not? Hmmm. I don’t even want to think about that. Shari plays such an important role in the mission that our family engages that it is hard to even imagine how we would function without her leadership. I’d like to highlight just a few of the ways that she serves and leads that make a lot of things possible for a lot of people that wouldn’t be otherwise. I hope that these serve as an encouragement to you other wives and mothers in your missional role and as a challenge to you husbands to really get behind your wife and support her in her work!
The first and arguably most important thing that my wife brings to the table is her grasp of the gospel. Any attempt at mission without this would be unexciting, directionless and ultimately dead. I need to hear the good news of Jesus in my life every day because there are a lot of other sources of not-so-good news vying for place and position in my mind. Our kids need to be disciplined with an orientation toward their heavenly Father and his loving provision for our sin, and his ultimate victory. When I hear Shari speaking life and encouragement instead of harsh and discouraging words to our children (and other people’s children) it is immensely refreshing.
Speaking of other people’s kids, there are a lot of them that find their way into our house. Go figure, with five kids of our own there is always something happening and with that comes a sense of energy and activity and an atmosphere that is easy to walk into. But it takes a strong and selfless leader to subject yourself to the demands of parenting more than your own brood even if it is only for a few hours a day several days a week ;-). As if just keeping everyone in line isn’t enough of a challenge, Shari puts these kids to work (if you’re one of the parents don’t panic, a little work never killed anyone and it will make them that much better at helping out at home). Seriously though, it’s picking up after themselves, cleaning projects, even cooking dinner or baking cookies, all valuable life skills that kids don’t just develop on their own. Thank you dear for not only being a good cook, but a great example!
And as you know, most kids come with parents. I really appreciate the way that Shari engages not just the friends of our kids and their siblings or the occasional random kid that pops by but also their parents. This has led to numerous family friendships over the years which has also led to opportunities for encouragement in daily life as well as introduction to what it means to be the family of God. Remember though, this stuff doesn’t just happen, and it’s not often super easy. It takes prayer, planning, preparation, and intentional availability on her part. The result is that I am able to join in the work that she has started or benefit from a relationship that she has handed to me. Through this and so many other ways Shari has developed a lifestyle defined by loving people that makes it a pleasure to engage not only life but life on mission together.
More formally, being part of a missional community is a normal part of life for us and it comes with its own responsibilities and opportunities. But when we decided together to start and lead a new group last spring we knew that it would bring a whole host of additional demands and the emotional burden of leading people whom you care about. Their cares become your cares, their challenges become your challenges, and of course their victories become your victories. On top of that we agreed that we would host the weekly meetings in our home which means that at least once a week in addition to helping kids with homework, overseeing their disagreements, and cooking dinner, she has to prepare the house for an additional 10-20 people. And this she does with gladness in faithful expectation of God’s work in the hearts of those we lead and love.
There are many more examples that I will reserve for another time or about which you could ask her yourself if you feel so inclined. But I do want to mention the role that Shari plays in my professional work. It might be tempting some times to think that the mission we’re engaging here in Quebec is primarily about my day job – directing the training of future church planters and leaders. But quite honestly, without the constant companionship and support and example of a wife that is with me in this Christian enterprise, I would only have a fraction of what I have to offer to others and it wouldn’t be worth as much. Let me say very clearly that mission involves all of life and that I am so thankful for the opportunities that we have as a family and that other people will have for generations to come because of the hard work and dedication and love of my wife!
Over the years we’ve enjoyed not a few jokes about how much time Shari sits on the couch eating bonbons. Ironically, I’ve never been able to capture this frequent occurence with the camera…