I just celebrated my 12 year anniversary this last Sunday, and that has me reflecting on marriage and ministry as it always does. I am extremely blessed with a wife that is very involved, even this current year as we transition into the next "season" of our life as she goes back to work.
I wanted to re-post this because I personally think (as I have written below) a wife's/spouses involvement can make you and break you. I can tell you personally that is my case. Hope you enjoy this post...maybe again?
Disclaimer/Preface: I am not trying to offend those of you are women in MS/JH ministry. I believe many of the same things apply to your husbands. I am also not try to offend those of you are single in ministry. I believe you have opportunities and advantage in your schedule that I know as a married man I do not. I hope and pray that you consider this a helpful pre-marriage counseling for your future mate. I am writing this with my wife and my own MS/JH ministry in mind.
Some of the greatest advice I have heard and have given is,"your wife will make or break you in ministry." As I talk to young guys considering going into ministry I give them that warning. I also tell them that they need to find someone that is actively involved IN ministry with them. I realize that this may seem outdated or even weird, but I have seen way to many people crash and burn in ministry for a variety of reasons. I believe strongly that you are called as a couple and family into ministry. You need to seek and pray for someone that is as called as you are to ministry. Yes, she may have her own career and you will go through season of life where she is not as involved but your wife (spouse) NEEDS to be actively involved in your ministry WITH you. What we do, especially in MS/JH is more than a career or job, it needs to be a true life calling.
I will try not to spend to much time bragging directly on my wife, but I will simply say that I know that I am blessed. I have someone that is a team mate with me and that feel God's call on her life to youth. She is an educated woman with Biblical knowledge. I have someone that is more that a support and cheerleader from the sidelines, but an truly active other half of who I am IN my ministry
10 Reason Why Your Wife Should Be Involved In Your Ministry:
10. Her Talents are not your talents. I am not being sexist, your wife does things better than you do. She is going to have natural abilities and gifts that you don't have, that is why God has brought her into your life. She "completes you" or I hope so?
9. She is your BFF. Ministry is a lonely place sometimes. If you read any of the recent Lifeway polls or have read Church Next by Gibbs, pastors are lonely people with few close friends. If you a MS/JH guy there may be even more of a separation from other adults. An involved wife can be that friend you need to confide in, talk to, and who understands. Hopefully the person you marry/married really is your "BFF" already.
8. The on-board GPS. A wife that is activity involved and is actually present in your ministry is that instant guidance system you need. You are half-way through a lesson and your not sure if your students are getting it, look out to find your wife and get an instant reading. Your about to say something that begs for a flood of angry phone calls, you can get the slight "don't you dare look". She also can point you to the student or leader that you are missing and that needs your attention.
7. Back Up Teacher. She can grab your notes and Bible and continue your lesson as you run to the bathroom sick (*True Story!!). If she is in the loop on what you are thinking and who your students are she can be a great "other voice" for your students to hear. Her testimony and story is important, if she is involved and known it powerful beyond belief.
6. Better Safe than Sorry? We live in a world of lawsuits and abuse. Having a wife that is there with you in person gives you added protection from accusations, invitation, or even just appearances. A student or even a leader is far less likely to "get the wrong idea" if you wife is near by. She also can be the "voice of reason" for your next set of great game ideas that include projectiles, fire, and chubby bunnies?
5. "Those" Issues. Yep, that is exactly what I am talking about "those female issues". Surprisingly your 6th grade girls don't want to talk to you as a guy about :their time of the month "that started during your week long mission trip. Although I have learned to come fully stocked with a variety of items in my "youth pastor bag", including a full variety of those kind of things, your wife is far better at dealing with those things. Of course, that is not the only female issue that will come up in your ministry and for each of those it so helpful to have a wife involved and available in the emotional, social, mental, and spiritual lives of your girls
4. Your Other Leader. Whether it be to your students or to your volunteers, having a female lead leader is so valuable. For many of the areas, that I have already mentioned, but for so many others having your "other half" there to be your "other half" leaders is beyond priceless. Whether she is "paid to be there" or not, she is looked at as part of the package. If she understands that and owns that-both of you will gain in eyes of your ministry, but also with parents and the rest of the church.
3. A Different Perspective. Somewhat related to the being your on-board GPS, your wife can offer you a different and female perspective on things. Whether it be a passage you are teaching on, a counseling issue, or just plain your ministry vision. She offers to you a second set of eyes and ears on, well.. pretty much everything. There are things you are just going to miss or not get without her.
2. The Checking Account. No, I am not talking about money, although that could be a great bonus #11, I am talking about accountability. You may already had an accountability partner, but your wife is the original true partner and the one you are accountable to before God. Who else in your life is going to know you as well as your wife. If your wife is a part of your ministry she can keep you accountable, keep you real, and keep in you check. She can call you out in the areas you need it. She will also...stop and read slowly...Keep You Humble!
1. The Pedestal. She is already up there as your wife. You should (if you don't) be putting her up on a pedestal in your marriage. Let's be honest our ministry/church is putting you both up there too. Whether you like it or not, you, your wife, your family, and your marriage are being looked at and examined under a microscope. Biblically that is kind of part of the job description, see I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. MS/JH students coming from broken homes and broken lives are looking to see if you really are the husband, father and person you are teaching about. Your wife and you walking together visibly in ministry gives your students an example of marriage. Your wife involved gives both male and female students an example of a Godly Woman. Choose to embrace the ups and downs of our lives be appropriately honest and real about who we are as a individuals and as a couple. Your wife whether or not she shows up to your meetings and events is an example.
Final Note: As I hear more and more about those in ministry male or female falling, my heart breaks. The above thoughts are just a reflection and some thoughts that come out of 18 years of ministry and the blessing of being able to do ministry with a great wife for more than 12 years of that. I look back at my single years and compare them to the married years. I see the drastic difference in my ministry. There are probably another 5 points I could add to the above list of how personally my wife, Melissa, has improved my ministry. We are called together to this life. We have a pretty clear vision (most days) of where we feel God is leading us as we feel called to work with middle school and Jr. High students the rest of our lives.
If you are married and this is not your life, don't feel like you are a failure...not at all. I just write this as an encouragement and challenge. Maybe share this with your spouse or simply pray over it. As I always say here, I don't have the one-size-fits-all answer for every ministry/context. I only want to share and be a resource
Comment, question, or simply ignore. I and my wife are always willing to share, pray, and help. Just let us know what we can do for you!