Kassian, a women's studies professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a national speaker for "True Women" conferences, admitted that 1 Peter 3, where wives are instructed to quietly submit to their husbands, was not her favorite part of Scripture when she was in her 20s. Reading it, she said, was like "sticking my face in a bucket of worms."
As she has grown in the Lord, Kassian said her views have changed to where she sees "great gems" in the passage for those who are co-laboring with their husbands in the ministry.
Kassian, whose husband is a chaplain for the Canadian Football League, shared three ways wives can use their femininity to help, rather than hinder, their husbands in ministry.
First, be winsome, Kassian said.
"The most effective way to help your husband be on the right track is for you to work hard for you to be on the right track."
The enemy of winsomeness is the tongue, Kassian said, cautioning, "A woman's word can be the undoing of the man."
Second, be womanly.
"Embracing your femininity is not about fitting a cookie-cutter mold," Kassian said. "It's about being the woman God created you to be -- a beautiful, God-glorifying woman."
Noting that issues of gender, sexuality and marriage are threatening what it means to be male and female, Kassian urged the women to be counter-intuitive and embrace the power of being a woman.
"Your husband needs you to be a woman -- his wife -- not his mother or one of the guys. When you are the woman God has called you to be, he can be the man God called him to be."
Finally, be unwavering.
"These womanly traits are very precious in God's eyes," Kassian said. Through them, "we shine a light on the Gospel and on Jesus Christ."
The Lord's way may seem counter-intuitive, but "it is the way that will bring most fulfillment," she said.
Kassian is the author of "The Feminist Mistake," "Girls Gone Wise" and most recently an eight-week study on biblical womanhood, "True Woman 101: Divine Design," coauthored with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
A copy of True Woman 101 was given to each attendee, along with a devotional, "The Hidden Person of the Heart," edited by Janet Wicker, this year's luncheon president, and written by more than 300 Southern Baptist ministers' wives in all areas of ministry. A book about prayer, "Draw Near," by Sherry Blankenship, this year's recording secretary/treasurer for the luncheon, also was given to attendees.
Through tears, Wicker introduced two pastors' wives who influenced her life and ministry: Nancy Buttemere, wife of Clive Buttemere, and Jane Hightower, wife of Bill Hightower, both of whom have been married for 51 years.
The Buttemeres served in the pastorate for 12 years and then as Southern Baptist missionaries to Costa Rica for 28 years. Nancy Buttemere "noticed" her at an awkward time of her life, Wicker said, and was her Girls in Action leader.
Hightower, who performed the Wickers' wedding in 1975, and his wife, served in several churches for 30 years, including the church where Hayes Wicker served as a youth minister.
"You have been the fragrance of Christ to me all these years," Wicker said as her two daughters, Kristin Yeldell and Allyson Wicker, presented bouquets of flowers to Buttemere and Hightower.
"The Lord values the vibrant, unfading inner beauty that comes from being adorned with soothing gentleness, regal tranquility, and strength submitted to God's control and the leadership of our husbands," Wicker told the June 19 luncheon at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
"In a culture that emphasizes beauty that is only skin-deep," Wicker added, "we must stand out as 'daughters of Sarah' who truly put their hope in God, doing what is good and right and not giving into fear."
Also at the luncheon, a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary jazz band and Yeldell, her husband Eric and a worship band provided special music.
Next year's featured speaker for the June 11 luncheon in Houston is author and speaker Donna Gaines, www.donnagaines.org, wife of Steve Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.
Officers for next year's luncheon, with the theme "For the Sake of the Gospel," based on 1 Corinthians 9:23, are Kathy Ferguson Litton of North Mobile, Ala., president; Beverly Fleming of Houston, vice president; Becky Badry of Wewoka, Okla., recording secretary-treasurer; and Beverly Bender of Black Forest, Colo., correspondence secretary.
Always held on Tuesday during the SBC annual meeting, the luncheon is open to wives of all ministers, including pastors, staff members, chaplains, missionaries and denominational workers.
Shannon Baker is the national correspondent for BaptistLIFE, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Contributions to the SBC Ministers' Wives Endowment may be sent to the Office of the Executive Director, Florida Baptist Convention, 1230 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32207.
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