The title “first lady” instantly brings to my mind images of Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, Melania Trump, and Hillary Clinton. In many churches of Christ and Christian churches, the first lady is the woman married to the pastor. She may not have a grand ballroom or a fine set of china that can serve 320, but she has a front-row seat to what’s happening in a large extended family. And more importantly, she has the ear and heart of the church’s spiritual leader. She typically is as invested in the community, church, and staff as her husband.
FIRST LADIES OF OUR CHURCHES AND MINISTRIES
What is The Crossing in Quincy, Illinois, without Allison Harris? She is aware of every phone call and email that comes in. She and husband Jerry partner in research, preparation, and leading an online Bible study. She is sharp, witty, devoted, and in love with both her maker and her family. She stewards finances with discernment, disciplines her children with grace, and, of course, spoils her grandchildren with her undivided attention. She is a sounding board, navigator, copilot, team player, researcher, and a committed prayer warrior. Her heart for the church is unwavering. She is dedicated to growing God’s kingdom and loving the people who show up to worship beside her.
What is University Christian Church in Los Angeles without Osharye Hagood? She passionately leads women in gathering and studying the Word. She endlessly pursues education . . . both in a formal school setting and the sharing of real-life stories. Osharye’s relationship with husband Rudy is second only to her relationship with God. Her excitement for what the Lord is doing in her community spills into every conversation; she sees opportunities to share the truth of how Jesus works in every challenge.
What is The Solomon Foundation without Julie Crozier? You often will find her in staff meetings or answering phones, or on her way to bring Doug a healthy lunch. She pushes and pokes, questions and debates ideas and options to the day’s challenges. Her keen eye for detail paired with unwavering support for her husband help sustain TSF’s dynamic team as they help church leaders stay married, continue in church ministry, achieve record growth, walk through hard times, and feel loved.
During George McElroy’s years there, what was Mission Viejo (California) Christian Church without Carolyn McElroy? Her sweet smile and tender hugs cut the harsh sting of truth from life lessons. Piano keys, church keys, and the key to Mac’s heart all rested in her care. She was ever present, loyal, and faithful. She would pop into the church to sweep Mac away in her Mustang convertible, making stops along the way to love on people in the community who needed them most.
What is Lifeline Christian Mission without Janet Simms? She whips up graphics that display Lifeline’s mission of feeding the needy. She climbs mountains in national parks with her family when she isn’t surmounting daily challenges with Ben as he leads Lifeline’s worldwide team. They are a dynamic duo in their personal life and on the mission field. Together they not only oversee the packaging and distribution of enormous quantities of food for hungry people, they also teach the local church how to be involved while making a powerful impact in the name of Jesus.
What would Crossroads Christian Church in Texas be without Janis Cameron? Not only does her Texas-style blonde hair give her an angelic appearance, but upon getting to know her, you realize she plays the part in real life! Her love of books—first and foremost the Bible—has led to establishment of a bookstore inside the church where she helps connect small-group leaders with Bible study materials, children with Bible storybooks, and everyday struggling people to words of encouragement through the written word. She toes the line as she and husband Barry live by example in teaching “the ABC’s of Financial Freedom.” Getting out of debt years ago was a team effort for the Camerons; they were equally committed to it. Behind the scenes, her tender heart, cheerful spirit, and dedicated knowledge of Scripture have served the church and her family. She is devoted to serving alongside Barry and seeing the kingdom of God grow.
What would your church be without its first lady?
These first ladies of the church and mission field have taught me what the hands and feet of Jesus look like. They lead in tandem with their husbands to spread the good news of Jesus. They help filter the bad, celebrate the good, process the hard, find creative solutions, lighten the burden, soften the blow, and cheer the loudest while walking along the narrow path.
FIRST LADIES IN THE BIBLE
I also often think of the first ladies in the Bible.
What would the ark have been like without Noah’s wife? I think Emzara—that was her name, according to the book of Jubilees (an ancient Jewish religious work)—must have been an incredible woman. Can you imagine your husband coming home to tell you God said the world would flood and so he needed to build a boat and gather animals? Imagine that conversation: “Hey, Babe, what do you think of taking a boat ride?” or perhaps, “You know how you always wanted a pet? I’ve got great news . . .”
Lest we forget, what would Jesus be without his mother, Mary? Jesus’ first spoken words in the New Testament occurred when Mary and Joseph forgot to make sure Jesus was with their group as they left Jerusalem. They rushed back to the city and found Jesus at the temple. Mary told Jesus they had been searching for him, to which he responded, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). I am thankful for the raw honesty of this story. Mary did not know everything; she left her preteen by mistake and reacted like any mom (like me) would. Oh, the goodness of God for choosing Mary and allowing us to hear the stories of how she honorably worked hard to be the best mother she could to the Savior of the World.
Where would humans be without Eve? Is she not also a first lady of the Bible? Adam’s “first lady” and perhaps first lady of the Garden of Eden? A first lady can either ripen a man and a church or spoil them. When a first lady’s focus remains on God’s will, grace, and people, God is honored.
The Solomon Foundation honors God first in all our choices. We specialize in church growth through finance. We take bold steps to help the local church secure bigger facilities. The financing is just the beginning because our heart is not in the building but in filling it with people seeking a relationship with Jesus. Our heart is devoted to building leaders, resourcing church teams, thinking creatively to find solutions, and strengthening the marriages of pastors leading these churches.
By making the commitment to spend time with the more than 300 church leaders we have helped, we also have gotten to know their first ladies and to witness them work in teams the way God called them. To our pastors, their leading ladies, and all the great pairs we have yet to meet, know that we are cheering you on and have dedicated our lives to serving alongside you. There are more of you than I have room to write about, but each of your stories is written on my heart. If you are looking for more than financing, but a ministry partner—call The Solomon Foundation.