by Shannon Baker
In the same way that individual pieces of fabric come together to make a quilt, God makes each person unique for His purposes, Rhonda Kelley told ministers’ wives attending last fall’s 22nd annual Annie Elias Leavell Lectures at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Kelley, wife of the seminary’s president, Chuck Kelley, noted that ministers’ wives’ lives can stimulate others’ faith by being godly examples in every word that comes out of their mouths, rather than complaining or putting others down. Recognizing that God expects his people to be holy or set apart, she said everything that Christians do and say should be holy.
“If we are people who love other people—especially unlovely people—we will draw others to him,” she said, reminding her audience that love covers a multitude of sin. “We are not to waver but have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We must believe that He is God, even when bad things are happening around us.”
A former director of speech pathology for 18 years at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, Kelley recounted how her colleagues couldn’t get over how happy she was all the time. One doctor in particular, who participated in a church youth group car wash, noticed they also had “a joyful spirit” about them. This served to enhance Kelley’s personal witness to God’s love in the lives of Christians.
To be an effective witness, Kelley said, Christians need to give attention to the special things that really matter in their relationships with the Lord: reading the Bible; exhortation or encouragement to others; and doctrine, or beliefs and conviction. “As we do that, we are not only examples, but we are growing in the Lord,” she said.
“We know that,” she confirmed. “But our lives just get so busy that it becomes harder. Without the discipline, you won’t be able to enjoy a meaningful ministry. All of us need to be lifelong learners and be committed to growing.”
Kelley also advised the women to not neglect their giftings. “How wonderful it is to know that God did give each one of us spiritual gifts! We just have to discover them, use them, and develop them.”
Moreover, women should meditate on the things of God. “Instead of thinking of our own thoughts, dreams, and fantasies, we are to be constantly thinking about the things of the Lord,” she said. She urged the participants to take heed of and continue in God’s leadership in their lives.
Kelley acknowledged that “it takes divine discipline” to develop and maintain a relationship with the Lord and to minister in His name.