I’ve noticed one common trait in couples who thrive in ministry over the long haul: the ability to see themselves as a team who shares a God-given dream. I believe this one factor can actually make or break the ministry God has called you to. Being a team sharing a dream can revitalize a marriage, a family, a local church, and ultimately the Kingdom of God.
The word team comes from the Old English and referred to a set of draft animals yoked together. A more modern definition expands on the concept by adding “a number of people who act together as a group, either in a sport or in order to achieve something.” Rick defines a team as two or more people who have common goals and also deep communications about those goals.
During seminary Rick began to dream of planting a church. It made me anxious to think about planting a church – the part about no money, no building, no members, no security or stability bothered me. Rick asked me to go with him to a church growth conference. It was at that conference that Rick’s heart for church planting began to take root in mine as I caught the vision of reaching unchurched people for Jesus Christ. Eventually, the “sharing the dream and being part of a team” strategy we started the church with began to fade a bit as life circumstances propelled us in different directions.
When we had small children, I was doing my best to keep up with their needs. Their demands often prevented me from being as active in ministry as I desired. As a result, Rick and I felt emotionally distant from each other. Nothing was actively wrong, but we were like ships passing in the night, each of us busy with our individual responsibilities. I didn’t know much about what was happening in his world, and he didn’t know much about what was happening in mine. During one of our intense conversations about our mutual frustration, Rick tentatively posed a question he had read in a marriage book: Is it true that the more a woman chooses to make herself a part of her husband’s world the more he will choose to be a part of her world?
I was riveted by that question and pondered it for days. I’m not going to wade into a conversation about whose turn it was to make the first move – which of us needed to try to be a part of whose world first. That kind of me-first thinking can become a distraction and is what dooms too many relationships to disappointment and bitterness.
Many times I’ve had to choose between “me first” and “the marriage first”. Rick could easily tell you about the times he has set aside “me first” and put his energy into building our relationship. That’s the mutuality spoken of in Ephesians 5:21-33. In my less-than-holy moments, though, I’ve found myself holding out for Rick to initiate something in our relationship on my timetable and in the way I want him to do it. I’ve played that game, and no one wins. I’m learning to put my energy into what it is I ultimately want – for us to be part of each other’s world.
Ways to Move Toward Being Part of Your Spouse’s World:
- Ask: “What are the two most influential books you’ve read in the last six months?”
- Ask: “Is there a sermon, podcast, or article that really touched your heart recently?”
- Ask: “I’d really like to hear, what are your dreams and hopes for the church in the next six months?”
- Attend or watch the same conferences together.
You and your spouse are each other’s most valuable resource for ministry – more than education and training, more than abilities, more than spiritual gifts, more than anything. You need each other! You are truly better together as a team sharing a dream!