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Plummer finds 'best job of all'
July 13, 2004
By David Roach
Robert Plummer (Right) with his wife, Chandi, and daughter, Sarah Beth
During her time at Southern Seminary, Chandi Plummer participated in women’s ministry, music ministry, overseas missions, college ministry and cross-cultural ministry. Of all her ministry opportunities, however, Plummer says that being a wife and mother allows her to have the greatest impact for the kingdom of God.
Plummer enrolled at Southern in the fall of 1997 planning to devote her life to foreign missions. But after marrying her husband, Rob, in 1999 and having her first child, Sarah Beth, earlier this year, Plummer discovered the powerful ministry that comes with raising a family.
“‘Mom’ is the best role because it brings a new thing into my life,” she said. “I think you can never overestimate the impact you will have on the life of your husband and the life of your children. That’s not to boost myself up as being the most important thing in their lives ... but I think that Christ called us to the role of a servant. And I consider there to be no greater investment of my time and my life than in the lives of my husband and my child.”
Plummer’s spiritual journey began when she was a teenager living in Chattanooga, Tenn. Though she grew up attending church, Christianity seemed “boring and irrelevant” to Plummer. So she developed her own New Age spirituality.
“I enjoyed having my own New Age spirituality, that self-promoting and idolatrous kind of worship. You look at yourself and think you’re great and maybe God’s in there. And I tried to find meaning in life. But the one thing I could never find was peace that would last. I could have peace for a while as I was meditating, but it would be gone after I stopped,” she said.
As she searched for meaning in life, Plummer went through a phase of rebellion and self-centeredness, she said. But her Christian upbringing always seemed to stick in her mind. At 13, Plummer remembers thinking, “if this is really true, if Jesus is God, I can’t live any way I want.”
It was not until high school though, that Plummer truly committed her life to Jesus Christ. An art teacher gave her a Gideon’s New Testament, which she had trouble understanding. But then Plummer read the sinner’s prayer printed in the back cover.
“I read it thinking, ‘Whoa! That is so serious. I don’t know if I’m there.’ I kind of felt like I was haunted by it,” she said. “... I don’t think I became a Christian then, but I do think it was evidence that God was working in my heart and drawing me to Himself. Then some months later I really finally ... fell to my knees and I said, ‘I’ve got to have peace. I believe and I want to do what You want.’”
During the high school and college years following her commitment to Christ, Plummer attended Southern Baptist churches and began to sense God calling her to foreign missions. So in pursuit of a career in foreign missions, Plummer enrolled at Southern Seminary to work toward a master of arts in missiology and a master of music.
“I had been overseas in North Africa, and I really wanted to return. At that time I was hopeful that I would marry, but I couldn’t make my plans in life based upon that. I had no assurance that I would marry, so I was trying to be willing before the Lord [to do] what He would have me do as a single woman. And my hope was to complete a degree here that would prepare me to be a missionary overseas,” she said.
Plummer’s plans began to shift, however, when she met her future husband Rob, who was working toward his Ph.D. at Southern.
At first, Rob had some difficulty approaching her, Plummer said. But then he came up with a plan. When Rob learned that Chandi spoke French, he started a seminary French club and invited her to attend. She ventured to the first meeting expecting a large group but quickly discovered that the two of them were the club’s only members.
“He started the French group, but let’s just say it wasn’t with completely pure motives,” Plummer said. “... Now he says he really kind of always wanted to have a French club, but you can imagine how surprised I was when at first it was just him and me speaking French. But it was a great way to get to know each other because I felt very comfortable speaking French with him. ... His side is that he did honestly want to start it before he met me, but he just had a little bit more motivation once he met me.”
The couple started dating and then married in June of 1999.
After Rob and Chandi completed their seminary degrees, the Plummers pursued international missions opportunities and were just one month away from being appointed missionaries by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. Then plans changed when Southern Seminary hired Rob as assistant professor of New Testament interpretation.
“My first reaction, to be honest, was that this was a temptation and it was not what we were supposed to do,” she said. “And I really had a hard time. I think you have to always be willing to go, but it’s another thing to be ready to go. And I was so to a place where I was feeling ready. You can’t just quench that off. It’s hard to think about other things at the same time. ... We felt torn and confused about what the Lord’s will was for us.”
Eventually, Plummer accepted the decision to remain in Louisville, she said, and God provided her with an abundance of fulfilling ministry opportunities. In 2001 Plummer was named women’s student life coordinator at Boyce College. She also taught music at Boyce and at the Louisville Academy of Music in addition to working with Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Louisville.
When the Plummers’ daughter, Sarah Beth, was born in February 2003, Chandi scaled back her work in women’s ministry and music in order to take care of her family.
As the wife of a seminary professor, Plummer said she has learned valuable lessons about how ministers’ wives can contribute effectively to their husbands’ ministries.
“First of all you need to have your own spiritual house in order because when my private spiritual life is not in order, I’m not a good wife. It’s hard enough to be a good wife even when my spiritual house is in order,” Plummer said.
“Secondly, I think that we need to learn to say no. We need to learn that there will always be more needs and more programs. I can think of several ministry things that I would really like to do, but I choose not to because I refuse to live a crazy life where my husband and I don’t have time for each other.”
Most importantly, however, Plummer has learned that couples in ministry must make an effort to make each other feel loved, she said. In the midst of a hectic ministry schedule, the Plummers communicate their love for each other in individualized ways, Plummer said.
“Try everyday to find a way to make your spouse feel loved,” she said. “And that doesn’t mean how you show love. That means what makes them feel loved. My husband feels loved when I clean the floor for him. I feel loved when he tells me or when he plays a game of cards with me.”
Someday Plummer may serve on a foreign mission field, she said. But for now she feels blessed to live in Louisville and serve her family full-time.
Plummer calls her current ministry opportunities “the greatest privilege. I feel so undeserving to have the husband and the daughter that I have. I guess that’s how God’s grace is.”