It’s been said that relationships are either growing or dying. In our churches, we are always striving to grow relationships. Yet, we often neglect the more important human relationship that we have – the one with our spouse.
I pray that your love for each other will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in your knowledge and understanding. Philippians 1:9
When Cory and I have participated in marriage classes, retreats, counseling and leadership trainings across the United States to grow our own marriage and help us in our efforts to minister to families more effectively, the number one comment we hear is: “I keep forgetting you are a pastor! My pastor would never be comfortable talking about that!”
And do you know what? That comment does not happen in the midst of a tawdry, coarse, vulgar conversation about sexual preferences and habits. It happens when we discuss ways to truly listen and speak clearly to be understood, to use conflict as a growth opportunity, and the value of increasing our emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy.
Those are all things that we long for in our relationships, so should our congregations not see our willingness to approach our own marriages with purpose and zeal? If we are not willing to pursue growth together in our own homes, why should we be surprised when marriages fall apart around us?
When a crisis hits a family and they have no example in front of them for how to lean on God and each other when things get hard, then they believe they must struggle through it alone, under the [false] assumption that the pastor and his wife have it all together and would not understand.
Set an example for your church. Prioritize your marriage, and be willing to actively and intentionally seek growth together. Taking a class or attending a retreat does not indicate problems in your marriage. It indicates a desire for even greater things in your relationship!
Prayerfully consider attending the Marriage in a Fishbowl Retreat on February 23-25 in Cleburne, TX. (Note that this is a Thursday evening-Saturday retreat, so you won’t even have to miss a ‘church day!’)
We’ll be together as real, genuine couples, working together to learn how to love each other better and finding growth points within our relationships. This retreat is only for ministers and their spouses. It is a chance to be authentic, transparent and safe. We’ll laugh a lot. We’ll work hard. We’ll connect with others who are in the trenches with us. You and your husband/wife will have lots of focused time with each other, which is awfully hard to come by in church work!
By investing in your marriage, you are also investing in your congregation. When you have a marriage that is thriving, you deny the devil a foothold in your thoughts, your attention and your focus. You minister from a healthier place, one of unity and security and support. You have a different approach to those who are hurting. Your marriage becomes a testimony of grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. You have a powerful example of what the Author of Love can do when you let Him write your story.