Mission And Marriage
By Tony Miltenberger
Let’s be honest; you aren’t in ministry for the money. There are a million other ways you could have earned a living, and you chose ministry. Some will say ministry chose them, but either way – you are in it for something more than just a paycheck.
I’ll be the first to say that I love the mission. Working for something bigger, broader, and better than anything I could ever do on my own. I served in the Army Reserves for over a decade and the church is the only thing I ever found that comes close to the Army. Listen to the Warrior Ethos; I will always place the mission first, I will never accept defeat, I will never leave a fallen comrade. I mean, this is practically the retelling of the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Army talk.
I love the mission, and I bet you do to. I am also willing to bet it is why your spouse fell in love with you. Your passion, your drive, your excitement for the hope that comes with the mission of the church. And that very same thing that allured your spouse into that happily-ever-after relationship could be the thing that unties the whole thing.
If you serve the mission of the church more than you serve the mission of your marriage it won’t be long before you lose them both.
So, how do you manage both without giving up on either?
Here are 5 things that I recommend:
- Pray with your spouse. I know it sounds a little cliché, but I talk to a lot of church workers and they don’t do it. They don’t pray with their spouse with any source of regularity. Nothing has changed my marriage more than intentionally praying with my wife every night before going to bed. It is vulnerable, it is intimate, and it brings us closer together while keeping God in the center. It reminds us to invite God into our marriage – even the stuff that happens after the bedtime prayer ;)
- Create ground rules for your work. Ground rules are agreements that are made between spouses before the situation arises. For example; one ground rule we practice is that I don’t work in the evening more than three nights a week. Another example might be that you don’t answer your cell phone or check emails during dinner. Anything can be a ground rule. The gift of these rules is that you both agree to them prior to the stressful event (work, or a work request) happening. They establish the baseline.
- Remember your first mission. Your first mission is to make disciples, and making disciples begins at home. How you value your marriage will be an instructional course for how your children should treat their marriage. Do you want your kids to care more about work then they do home? One of my favorite sayings is: More is caught than taught. The people around you are catching how you handle the balance between home & life. Give yourself the mission of making disciples at home.
- Invite your spouse into ministry with you. If you are anything like me the last thing you want to do when you get home from work is talk about work, but it isn’t work for my spouse. For her it is church, and specifically – it is her church. She wants a voice, she wants to be included. I’ve found that we are better together, and making my wife my ministry partner (as much as she wants to be anyway) is a key to our long-term success.
- Have an accountability partner that isn’t your spouse. I was in a bad place in my marriage once, and I didn’t know how bad it was till someone loved me enough to tell me I was one a one-way trip to a train wreck. Accountability partners are people in your life that know what is really important and speak the truth! If you don’t have any truth-tellers you’ll likely start to lie to yourself about what is true.
Those are my thoughts, but I would love to hear yours! Go to the Colocate Facebook Page to share your thoughts with me and the team at Colocate. We would love to hear what you do to keep a healthy marriage in light of the mission.
Tony is Lead Pastor at Restoration Church Centerville (Centerville, OH). He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have three beautiful kids. To learn more about Tony’s ministry or to order his marriage book (Unbreakable, Abingdon Press, 2014) visit his website twmilt.com.