I have been studying Acts for the past couple of months now, so the Holy Spirit and His work in us has been on my mind a lot. This morning I was reading Acts 20 when Paul is talking to the elders at the church of Ephesus. In verse 28, he says,
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
The part that hit me hardest this morning was the reminder that the Holy Spirit, not man, made these men overseers of their flock. The same is true today. We should have confidence knowing our elders are in that position because the Holy Spirit put them there.
Then I began thinking about their wives. They also were given to these men through the Holy Spirit, and though often forgotten, they have a tough job. The elders’ wives at Sojourn are continually giving of themselves, serving their husbands sacrificially every day so our elders can be freed up to serve their flock as faithfully as possible. These women do most of their work in the background but work harder than most in the church. I was reflecting on each of the six women who fulfill this role at Sojourn and was filled with joy as I could see how God has used them in my life alone, knowing how vital they are to the spiritual health of our church. My dear friend Karen (who coincidentally is one of our elders’ wives) has shared with me more than once the importance of encouraging others to their faces, and though this isn’t technically face to face, I want to publically praise our Savior for the work He is doing in each of their lives. Some I know better than others, but all have been part of my spiritual growth.
Karen Cheong–I could write a book here. This beautiful woman is the one every woman wants to be her mentor. She is the epitome of biblical womanhood. I have often prayed God would teach me to love my husband, children, and others in the way Karen loves. She is possibly one of the busiest women alive, but when I have called on her, she has often dropped everything to meet my need. This woman knows how to encourage! She has taught me more in the brief moments I have had with her than I could ever learn from a book.
Sarah Cosper–Is there anyone who has a sweeter spirit? This lady loves every person she meets unconditionally, and she always has a kind word to say. She is an amazing example of humility. She dearly loves her husband and daughter and is regularly public about her affection for them. No corrupting talk comes from her mouth, but only talk that is good for building others up.
Amy Ems–Pure wit. She can help you see the funny side of most things in life. I have shed many tears of laughter while listening to Amy talk about, well, basically anything. How we need people that have the gift of bringing joy to those around them! Another side of Amy, though, is her willingness to be vulnerable. She is not too proud to admit she is a sinner and has encouraged me through her example to practice humility by “laying it all out there.”
Ginger Lewis–I have never seen Ginger without a gorgeous, joy-filled smile on her face. There have been times I have felt down or discouraged until I was warmed by her welcome. She treats no one like they are a stranger but like they are the one person she was hoping to see that day. I have to admit that I love watching her when Chad preaches. Her face shows so much adoration for him. I pray God continues to challenge me to respect my husband as Ginger openly respects and loves hers.
Mandy Montgomery–Superwoman! This mother of three small children seems like she can do it all. She has many talents, but she constantly puts herself aside to fulfill her first role as helpmate to her husband. She is selfless and a hard, hard worker, working with joy for the Lord. She is filled with wisdom and grace. Mandy is also extremely gifted in hospitality (her husband publicly praises her for it), and she has taught me much about what true hospitality is. I have grown largely in this area over the past several months, mainly due to a conversation I had with Mandy a while back.
Chandi Plummer–Wisdom. She is the kind of woman you just want to be around. For one, she’s just fun! She has a very optimistic personality and is always reminding me of the power I have in Christ to do all things. Talk about gospel-centered! Though Chandi is not my “official” mentor, I don’t think I’ve ever talked to her, even for short periods of time, without growing spiritually. She is always ready with a word of wisdom or encouragement. She is also an amazing example of how to be a God-fearing mother, pointing her daughters to the good news day in and day out.
I praise God for each of these women! How richly He has blessed me and our church through His work in them.