Pastors’ wives: How Cissa and Sonya did it well

First, love the congregation, every single one of them, particularly the hard-to-love.  And second, never underestimate the power of your presence.

Two stories of two great ladies.

Cissa Richardson went to Heaven this week.  She was the beloved widow of Pastor James Richardson who served two great churches in our state for some forty years.  James died over 10 years ago.  We were neighboring pastors for years and great friends since the first day we met.

James and Cissa left quite a legacy.  Their three sons–twins Gary and Jay, and younger brother Ian–are all in the Lord’s work.  The twins have been pastors for decades and Ian was first a worship leader and musician and for years has headed the audio-visual department for our state Baptist convention.

This week at Cissa’s funeral. Son Gary told something about his mother I’d never heard.

“Once the church was about to have an important business meeting.  Dad was anxious about it because we had heard that one influential member had planned to sabotage the proposal which Dad and the leadership were bringing before the congregation.  So, when everyone came in for the mid-week dinner that night, my mother looked around until she found the leader intent on mischief.  She walked over, greeted him, and sat down beside him.”

“The man did not open his mouth the entire evening.”

Gary’s story brought back memories of the time I had been attending a Mississippi State basketball game and was being rather loud in my comments about Coach Bob Boyd and some of his decisions.  At one point, someone whispered, “The coach’s wife is sitting in front of you.”  Yikes. I leaned over and asked, “Are you Mrs. Boyd?”  She smiled and nodded.  I said, “May I apologize for my foolishness?”  She smiled again, and I was on my best behavior the rest of the game.

The pastor’s wife may not have to do a thing to quieten a critic than to be there, to be near, to be present.

Sonya Rohrman was the wife of our pastor at First Baptist Jackson MS in the early 1970s during my three years on staff as Minister of Evangelism.  I saw Sonya this week while attending a service at nearby Colonial Heights Baptist Church where she is a member.  I told her, “You were always the gold standard for pastors’ wives.  Margaret learned so much from you.”

Later, I thought of one thing in particular.

From my vantage point, it seemed the pastor, Sonya’s husband Larry, was forever being questioned and second-guessed and sometimes attacked by powerful leaders in the congregation. It was not a fun time to be the point man for what God was doing in our church.  And yet…

Sonya loved them all.  No person in the church could tell by her kindness, her smile, and her warmth whether they were in the pastor’s doghouse or his best friend.  She loved them all.

Margaret worked at doing that during the years after when we served the First Baptist Churches of Columbus MS, Charlotte NC, and Kenner LA.

Love ’em all.  Let no one think the pastor has filled you with tales of how he was persecuted or opposed or shot down by this one or that.  Whether he did or not is another story.  Some pastors tell their wives everything and many choose to protect them from the inside stuff.

Love them.  And sit near them.

See what happens.


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