“Behind every great man in the Church is a great woman.”
You’ve heard it a thousand times before. I know I have, and I confess that for most of my life those words seemed pretty, well, trite. Call me insensitive, but I used to brush the saying off as nothing more than a ponderous platitude.
I’m sorry for that. I once was blind, but now I see …
For the most part, we do a commendable job in The Church of Jesus Christ of honoring and sustaining our priesthood leaders. We love the men who preside. Many of those men are some of my best friends and biggest heroes. They deserve our respect, and they generally get their due. Their talents and contributions are at the forefront of everything.
What I’ve learned in my old age, however, what I’m perhaps only beginning to understand, is that the wives of those men are every bit as talented, every bit as dynamic, every bit as faith-filled – probably more so – than their husbands, and in The Church of Jesus Christ we could all do a better job of acknowledging that fact.
The only reason these women can be said to be standing behind their husbands at all is because that’s precisely where they want to be. (Never mind that behind is the ideal place from which to, on occasion, hold their husbands back to prevent them from falling flat on their faces.) The reality is the women actually walk beside their husbands – or quite possibly ten steps ahead.
These dear sisters don’t desire recognition, but I do fear that too often they feel a bit lonely, a bit lost, a bit underconfident. Too often we take them for granted while we lavish their husbands with praise.
So, today I want to do a small something to make amends. Today I say to these great women, “We see you, we appreciate you, and we care about you too. Your contribution is invaluable.”
As the Savior Himself taught: “… whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all.”
Chief among us then are these elect ladies, these sometimes “priesthood widows,” who selflessly toil and minister in the background, never seeking praise or accolades. That’s something the world, with all its bells and whistles, will never understand. But we should.
So, the next time you see one of these great women, you might thank her for her goodness and her sacrifice.
“Behind (or beside or up ahead of) every great man in the Church is a great woman.”
Trite? Never. True? You bet.
Chris lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. His angel mother writes poetry like Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost wrapped into one. His angel mother-in-law never says anything unkind about anyone ever – even and especially when they deserve it. His angel wife is a charming soul who can go from zero to best friend with complete strangers in under two minutes. Chris is blessed.