Marriage. Its rewarding, fulfilling, and life-changing. It’s also hard.
Ministry. The opportunity to be a part of life-change in a community of believers on a daily basis. Diddo for the difficulty level.
But when you are married in ministry, how to the two mutually exist in a way that is healthy, progressive, and rewarding?
I wish I knew the answer to that. But I know this. There are literally hundreds of marriages of ministry-driven couples that will end this year. Boundaries will be broken, hearts will be shattered, and steps will be taken to end a beautiful exchange of lives.
How can we change this pattern?
…. …. …. ….
I have been married to my wife, Elizabeth for almost 9 years…and the lesson I have learned the hard way too many times is that there is a key difference between prioritizing God and prioritizing ministry. My relationship with God is of upmost importance, and He is to be the number one priority in my life.
My wife is next.
What does that look like when it is applied to life? Let me suggest three things you can do to value your wife and your marriage above ministry purposes (whether inside or outside the church). I share these because I fail at them more than I succeed. For consistency sake, I am using men as an example. This applies just as much in the case of women who are in ministry with their spouses as well…:)
- When you are home, you are home. Your spouse deserves your undivided attention. I can’t tell you how difficult it is for me to not turn into a vegetable when I arrive home. I’ve worked all day, I have a million things on my mind, and interacting with children or talking with Elizabeth isn’t one of them. I have to make a concerted effort to remember that she is my priority. Take the time to talk with your spouse, to connect with them, to remember: They worked all day too. Watch a show together. Laugh. Love. Cry. Connect.
- Do not compromise your family for the betterment of ministry. You know those times when you have 85 extra rehearsals to make the sound that much better for every Sunday? Or those 14 extra meetings that you just know will improve everything in every area of your ministry? Guess what? Your marriage and your family come before all of that. I have found that the more I delve into God’s word, and the more I work on my marriage, the better my ministry results are. Is it easy? No, it’s the hard way…but the best way. Don’t let your ego or ideals get in the way of your love for God and your love for your spouse.
- Learn the warning signs that you are putting ministry over marriage. Do you answer your phone during dinner with your spouse instead of waiting until you are finished? When is your last date with your spouse? Are you pursuing your spouse in a way that makes her feel special? Little things add up in a big way. When you notice the little instances where you are checking out personally and in your marriage, stop and listen. Refocus. Refresh. Renew.
For many of us, we would be who we are personally, professionally, or even spiritually without the love, support, and giftedness of our spouses. Make this a day where you let your spouse know your devotion to them. Pursue. Love. Commit yourself to them. At the end of the day, the week, and your life, you won’t regret it.
What advice do you have for Marriage and Ministry?
*This post is part of a blog series on Marriage & Ministry. Check out the other great posts here.