Equipping Seminary Wives


While many are familiar with the Master of Divinity program designed to equip men to lead churches, they may not know that Bethlehem also seeks to equip the women who will stand by these men in their noble pursuit. (1 Tim 3:1)

We go about this task of equipping women in five key ways–through large group gatherings which feature teaching and discussion on a relevant topic, through small group gatherings in faculty homes, through mentorship, through prayer, and through the personal commitments of each of the wives.

This year’s theme is The Personal Life, and our large group gatherings are covering the topics of the Word, Prayer, Confession, Temptation, and Forgiveness. As women progress through the program, they will also receive teaching on family life, ministry life, and the steadfast life. The small group gatherings in faculty homes foster more opportunities for teaching, mentorship and fellowship. Outside these large and small group gatherings, each woman will meet one-on-one with a faculty mentor, and will be encouraged to invest and develop her spiritual gifts at home and in her local body by committing to a variety of initiatives, such as serving in a church ministry for at least two years, hosting unchurched neighbors and friends in her home, auditing a class at Bethlehem, or reading through the Bible twice during her time in the program.

But while we design the program, prepare the teaching, lead the discussions, open our homes, and serve coffee and dessert, we recognize that God has designed his own personalized equipping program for each of these women whose lives intersect with ours these four brief years.

While his training looks different for each woman, it often includes taking on more work to cover the cost of seminary and seeing a little less of their husbands than they’d like. For most, seminary is a time for growing families and discipling children. For a few, God’s equipping program includes adjusting to a foreign culture, and to others, adjusting to a shockingly different climate. Many face the specific challenges of urban living for the first time. To each woman’s program, God adds the unique trials and blessings of her marriage, and to many, the unique trials and blessings each child brings. But above all the general and specialized training God has for each woman hovers one overshadowing question: what’s next?

Having run the obstacle course of seminary with our own husbands, my advisory team and I understand a little about what’s likely next. And so we pray. At every meeting, the first item on the agenda is prayer. We pray that God will help these women see the goodness of these seminary years. We pray that he will allow them to taste the firstfruits of the promised “peaceful harvest of righteousness” as they submit to the discipline God has for them in these four years. (Heb 12:11) We pray that God will meet them in their diligent pursuit of him, assuring them of his love and care. We pray God nurtures in them a heart for the church so that they wholeheartedly embrace God’s call on their marriages. And we pray that they experience the faithfulness of God during these equipping years so that they leave seminary confident that he will provide everything they need to take that next, unknown step.

May God be pleased to use our efforts in his all-wise master plan. And may these dear women leave these training years at Bethlehem excited and equipped for what’s next.