This will be the final installment in this “Honor to Whom Honor is Due” series. The goal of this series was to recognize and thank those who helped and encouraged me to “begin” preaching. There are a myriad of people I could list who have been and continue to be encouragers to me after I began preaching, (to whom I am greatly indebted), but who are outside the scope of this particular series.
There is no way I could even contemplate a series like this without mentioning my wife, Kim Higginbotham. We met in school before I ever became a preacher, and she encouraged me to preach then, and has stood beside me, being my greatest encourager for the past 32 years.
I like to tell people that we married on “blind faith” — Prior to getting married, I had never once tasted her cooking and she had never once heard me preach. I need not say that I got the better end of that deal! I have a copy of the very first sermon I preached when I began my local work, and it’s so embarrassing I can barely bring myself to listen to it. But, from the way that Kim encouraged me in those early years, I would have thought I was actually good.
A preacher cannot have a fragile disposition or spirit. Every time he preaches, he makes himself vulnerable to the critique of the entire assembly. He will find that the “greeting line” at the door is much longer when he misspeaks, or inverts a Scripture reference, than when he executes flawlessly. At times he will wonder if anyone ever heard the 99% of his sermon wherein he didn’t misspeak. When I’ve wanted to go home and “pull the covers up over my head,” Kim has been the consummate encourager.
I can also say without hesitation that I really did marry up. Kim really is a better person than I am, and has helped me be a better preacher. I often refer to her as my “better judgment.” I solicit her advice and counsel and couldn’t imagine life without it. Her advice, her requests, and her gentle corrections have helped me become a better person, a better father, and a better preacher. She makes me realize just how important it is to marry someone who loves the Lord. Her love for God has made my work easier and has made me so much of a better person than I otherwise think I would have been.
There have been several times in our lives when I had opportunities to move and preach in places that would have drastically increased our salary and would have been good for Kim and our children in a variety of ways. Yet, for one reason or another, in my best judgment, I declined those offers. Never did I have to deal with pouting or angry wife who felt she was being deprived. Rather, she has always been on the same page with me, supporting and agreeing with my decisions, even at great personal loss.
Because of my job, I’ve been thrust into violent situations. I’ve been robbed at gunpoint. I’ve been threatened to be shot by an abusive husband. I’ve had a man threaten to burn our house down while we slept, and a host of other similar situations. Such unpleasantries have never caused Kim to suggest that I might want to do something “safer.”
Someone may be tempted to say, “Sounds like Kim’s the perfect ‘Preacher’s Wife.'” No, that’s not so, and she and I will tell you why. There’s just no such thing as a “Preacher’s Wife.” (That’s an invention of brethren who want to place extra-biblical expectations on a woman married to a preacher). Of course there are women who are married to preachers, but don’t speak of a “Preacher’s Wife” as if it is a position. It’s not. Being a “Preacher’s Wife” is no different that being a “Plumber’s Wife,” or a “School Teacher’s Wife.” Let me tell you what makes Kim so great. It’s because she is a model Christian woman trying to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Period. That’s what makes me so indebted to her and thankful that she’s my wife.
Whatever good I may be able to accomplish in my life will be accomplished by God’s grace and the help, support, strength, and encouragement I’ve received from Kim.