This post is a follow up post to the Widowed by Ministry post. It contains practical tips and clear fruits of a minister who has ordered their marriage above the ministry and below or within their relationship with God. Let’s dive in.
Yes, No, and Go.
To protect your YES, or I do, in marriage you need to utilize the No or Go approach. Simply put, the demands of ministry will exceed the demands of an individual. When a minister gets a Savior complex and begins to believe that they are the one saving the souls, then saying no becomes impossible.
Say “NO”. Without saying ‘no’, your ‘yes’ will mean nothing. No is the word that protects your ‘yes’, it protects your ‘I do’ and reinforces it daily. Most people I meet in ministry have a clear desire to please other people. Pleasing others is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit, but it does often bring peace, kindness, and gentleness. Sometimes saying ‘no’ is a challenge, which is where ‘go’ comes into play.
If there is a task or function that must be done, we must be willing to empower others to GO and do the work. Often this will require you journeying with them but only for the short haul. The ultimate goal of ministry is not to do it all, but rather to empower others to put their gifts at the service of God and multiply ministry.
Delegation and empowerment is not an offloading of tasks, but rather an arranging of gifts. Furthermore, you yourself do not have the skill set to do everything well. Taking the time to surround yourself with the gifts and talents of others will give you the time to do what you’re best at, and to do the things you are called to. No one else on earth can be a better partner to your spouse than you. It’s covenant theology folks!
Taste them fruits!
Here are some fruits of aligning your marriage ahead of ministry.
- You will provide a living witness of the beauty of marriage. Our world is filled with false symbols and promises of what love and marriage is or should be. Many of those we serve are coming from a place where they have experienced dysfunction or brokenness as a bad fruit of a marriage that operated outside of God’s grace, or worse a family that was broken because of a bad marriage.The world needs this living witness. And whether you give it witness by having your spouse & children present at ministry events, or having yourself absent at certain ministry events because it’s your anniversary, or a child’s event, or you spent the weekend on retreat so you’ll spend the week with your family, the world needs this living witness.
- The domestic church (the family) is strengthened. We are ministers at home first. We cannot be too busy saving the souls of people in our programs to save the souls of the people in our home.The domestic church supports the ministry. When this occurs, much like the early Christians, then you as a minister will be sent forth. My family prays with me before I head out to a big event, and they pray for me while I’m there. I operate more strongly knowing that my home base, the headquarters God gave me, support the work that is taking place. Ministry in this regard doesn’t take me away from my family. Ministry is what my family has prepared me for.
- The community rallies around your family, not just you. They value you and they see you value your family, thus they begin to value your family. At the end of the day, the community we serve may be demanding, but they want to see us succeed.
Here are a few quick tips on how to bless your marriage as a minister.
- Minister at home first.
- Minister together when possible. Let the youth group know your kids, your spouse, the dog. Consider using tithe money to pay the babysitter if this is what’s required so your spouse can minister next to you.
- Acknowledge the sacrifice. Publicly and privately acknowledge the sacrifice you spouse makes to support your ministry.
- Set clear boundaries: No email on your phone, no texting or calls after 9pm, a clear day off, and worship away from your home parish when it starts to feel like you’re always ‘on the clock’ when you’re there.
- Acknowledge your failures. When you miss the mark in the balance, an apology can bring healing or at least start the process. Acknowledging weakness shows an awareness and progress can be made.
- Acknowledge your limits. You cannot be all things to all people. This means that you cannot be everything your spouse desires and you cannot be everything you desire as either a spouse or a minister.
- Most Importantly, Pray Together. Be united as a couple on a mission. Constantly ask God what His plan is for you and find common ground in accomplishing God’s plan together.
- Embrace the Adventure.
Please share this on social media with a minister you care about and comment with your tips for ways you keep your marriage ahead of ministry and it has blessed your ministry.