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Thursday, June 23, 2011

part “the ministry” almost ruined my marriage...baggage and priorities

as promised...part 2

I have spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to tackle this, and then realized that when I am organized it doesn’t ever seem to come out right.  So I will just let things pour out onto the page as I think.

The beginning is a good place to, well... begin.  What you bring into your marriage and ultimately into your ministry will greatly effect, possibly determine, the survival of your marriage. Whether you bring in generational curses such as divorce, drinking, marital infidelity, and abuse or simply your own attitude and belief about marriage and the ministry, all of these things will have a major impact as the years go by.

Looking back at the beginning, I see patterns that we brought into our marriage that, at the time, didn’t seem like anything major.  My husband brought in a work-a-holic background and a need for affirmation.  I brought in a family history of complete and quiet submission to your husband, even if you disagreed, along with a fiery Irish spirit!  Add to that being fairly newly married and pregnant with our first child...we were already setting ourselves up for disaster without even realizing it. 

Now don’t get me wrong...Being dedicated to your work is an honorable trait. Working hard and providing for your family is all good.  So is being a submissive wife...

Proverbs 25:24 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

So we bring these things into our ministry and then begin working for a pastor who believes that he has "paid his dues” as he put it, and now it’s our turn.  The cycle begins.  My husband works hard to receive the affirmation from the pastor and from me that he is doing good.  I am upset that he seems to be working a lot more than anyone else in the church, but being taught to be quiet and submissive I say nothing...until that fiery Irish spirit pops up and I can’t hold in my frustration any longer...Kaboom!!!  

First major fight about the ministry and the beginnings of a foothold for satan to grab hold of. That love that my husband and I had for each other, unbeknownst to us, was very slowly beginning to erode. We kissed and made up, but this was to be only the first of many disagreements about time at work, time at home, priorities...there was a scratch in the protective surface of our marriage.  I look back and am saddened by the things we didn’t see.  

Was the pastor a bad, horrible slave-driver...well he wasn’t bad, he wasn’t horrible... maybe a bit of a slave-driver... God still uses men like this, but so does the devil.  I will discuss this more tomorrow...

My husband came out of this determined to work harder so that I would affirm the work he was doing.  He came out feeling as if I didn’t understand or support him in the ministry that God had called him (us) to do.  A child was born, I pulled away, he pulled away... you get the picture.  

Over the next several ministry positions the gap grew between us.  The more he worked, the more bitter and resentful I became toward the ministry, because after all, it was the ministry that was causing the divide...or so I thought. As I pulled away he felt unaffirmed from me and therefore continued to look more to the ministry and the people in the ministry for that affirmation.  Before anyone jumps to conclusions...we were both wrong in this. Equally.

A quick side note here...these are the times where, if we are unguarded, satan will use others...usually of the opposite sex to fill that gap of affirmation in our lives...both the husaband and the wife are susceptible to this.  It is such a difficult thing, because even if you see someone flirting with or setting traps for your spouse, giving them the affiramtion that they need so deperately...your opinion is no longer as valuable as it once are just that same old nagging voice to them...

Over the years my opinions, my words became of less value to him. Not because there wasn’t wisdom in what I had to say, but because of the divide that had slowly grown between us on our views of the ministry and what was important...everything I had to say was weighted to him with my bitterness...and in the last couple of years my sheer hatred for the ministry.  

Looking at all of this I am sure many of you that knew us had no idea what was happening, for in "the ministry" it is always a plastic smile on your face and fake joy in your heart if you want to survive. That sounds terrible...but I told you I was going to be honest.  

(Now as a disclaimer, not everyone you see that is in a leadership position in church is miserable, unhappy and bitter. There are many, some of which I am good friends with, that are truly serving God joyfully...those that have figured out how to do it right...and if you get close to these kinds of can spot a fake pretty easily...)

Lessons learned in the mirror:

Priorities...God, Family, Then Ministry

So many times pastors, youth pastors, others get confused on this one.  Our personal relationship with God is NOT the same thing as our ministry. End of story. Period. This is one that establishes itself early in ministry and only grows worse with time.  

The lines are blurred...
I am called, therefore this work is God’s work...
therefore the work of the ministry slowly supercedes the calling...
which supercedes the personal relationship...we become known for our work and enjoy being known...and no one knows that our personal relationship with God has 
into the background, or into oblivion...

I will stop for now although I could keep going, and going, and going!

tomorrow...part 3...the pastors we serve

thanks for stopping by...

wendy jo

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