Though she had already purchased her dream bridal veil, Ashley Smith went to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with ministry plans that did not include a preacher husband. Shortly before she finished her Master of Divinity, though, she met and married her husband—pastor Steven Smith.

And just like that, the Plano-born girl became a fish in the proverbial fish bowl of ministry. To learn how to tackle the unexpected job in which she found herself, Smith enrolled in First Lady Dorothy Patterson’s Wife of the Equipping Minister class at Southeastern.

Now, more than 10 years later, Smith finds herself at the front of the classroom teaching the very class she took from Patterson on the East Coast.

“This is a great way for me to obey Titus 2 and to love and encourage [women],” Smith says. “I do really love working with the pastors’ wives. I want the ladies to have a good understanding of theological arguments, of biblical reasons—scriptural reasons— why we do certain things, why we believe them, [and] how that affects women particularly. But it’s also very practical and even devotional. It’s kind of a warm, family feel.”

Yet, Titus 2 calls for women not only to teach the way of godly women but to be godly women.

“I’ve had so many older women say, ‘You know, your house can wait, but your kids can’t. You don’t get those days back.  You can never go back and redo things.’” Smith says. “I think that has really helped me.”
With the responsibility of caring for her family and her home and also being involved in ministry, Smith, mother of two daughters and a son due in January, has found that she must maintain balance between the two.

“We all have that balance that we have to strive for between ministry and family,” Smith says. “I feel like I’ve got to be a good mom, and I need to be devoted to my family. My first obligation is to meet their needs, but I also feel like there is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to contribute in addition to her family and her husband. You just have to be creative about finding ways to do that ministry.”

For Smith, who served as a pastor’s wife before moving with her husband to Fort Worth where he is now the Dean of The College at Southwestern, ministry has come in the form of raising up women to serve alongside their husbands in churches and on the mission field. Forty-nine women have been taking Smith’s weekly class this semester.

“It is really hard to be a minister’s wife, and it’s hard to go into a lot of different ministry circumstances and you can’t just prepare for them in the class room,” Smith says. “You have to be prepared for that emotionally, mentally and socially and in so many other ways. So that’s one nice thing about this class, I feel, is that you can hit all of those areas.”

In the class, which Patterson has taught every year until this semester, Smith has taught the women about homemaking, marriage, parenthood, women’s ministry and hospitality, among other elements of ministry service.

Smith, who earned her Doctor of Ministry degree from Southwestern, encourages women to take advantage of all the opportunities offered to them while at Southwestern.

“Just embrace all those things and soak it in because so much of your life is being shaped here,” Smith says. “Spend time with people, get to know those professors, read the books that you can read because you’re in a unique time of preparation, and just like with kids, you don’t get that time back.”