Refresh: Q&A with Beth Harris

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 | 4 yrs old

Beth Harris has been a minister's wife for over 27 years alongside her husband, Dr. Mark E. Harris. She has also served on the boards of Salem Pregnancy Support Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. and the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Harris and her husband have three grown children.

Harris will be one of the keynote speakers at Embrace’s upcoming ministry wives conference, titled, “Refresh: A day to equip and encourage ministry wives.” She recently took time to answer some questions that provide a preview of what she’ll be sharing at the conference on Saturday, March 5 at Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.

Why is ministering to ministry wives important?
Ministry wives not only experience the same highs and lows of life that all women experience, but they do so in the context of being in a public position with a high expectation of perfection. They may find their husbands both placed on an unrealistic pedestal or unfairly criticized, and all of these factors can combine to produce stress. It is vital that they have truly spiritual times of refreshment in worship and prayer with each other away from the congregations they serve. I can recall one N.C. Ministers’ Wives retreat specifically in which our prayer time was so sweet and so powerful, it literally improved my physical well-being and lifted my spirit for weeks afterward.

When your husband first became a minister, what were some of your feats, and what did God teach you?
Like many ministry wives, I had to work outside the home while my husband was in seminary. During those years I also gave birth to two children. So, a “feat” of mine, as Jacqueline Kennedy once said, was surviving! I was also blessed to make a lifelong friend through a women’s Bible study that I led. I learned to keep the main thing, the main thing in any ministry endeavor.

What is the best piece of advice you would share with a young ministry wife?
I will be sharing about this on the retreat – but if I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be to look for the opportunity in the obligation.

What do you wish people in other ministry positions understood about ministry wives?
That we are given our own set of spiritual gifts as is every other believer. We are not equipped to say yes to every request, nor should our gifts be ignored because our husbands are the senior pastor.

What has been your greatest joy as a ministry wife?
Seeing people come to faith in Christ and growing in their faith, and seeing my children grow up and be faithful to the Church and serious about their faith.

What do you hope fellow ministry wives take away from what you share at “Refresh”?
I hope they come away embracing their status as role models and influencers more than ever. It took me a long time to truly understand that potential in its proper perspective — not as a pleaser of men, but as a disciple of Christ. 

Editor’s note: “Refresh: A day to equip and encourage ministry wives" is scheduled for March 5 at 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Registration information can be found here.