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Showing posts with label married to a pastor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label married to a pastor. Show all posts

06 February

God for Us and our Marriages

A year ago this month (February), we stood in a marriage retreat with our church.

Often, families in ministry don’t sit together in services. Even more often (and not just for people in ministry), husbands and wives don’t sit next to each other because…well, you know…kids. Often, families in ministry have responsibilities before, during, and/or after services, so it’s easy to get distracted or be pulled away just as we draw our focus onto worship.

Let’s be really honest here: An intense love for the Lord doesn’t mean corporate worship time is automatically easy.
So with no children at this retreat and no responsibilities, I enjoyed the chance to stand with my husband in worship. We held hands while we sang. (I felt kinda cute…)

The worship pastor had chosen a new song for the occasion: God With Us, by Jesus Culture, and it took me a few repetitions before I could really listen to the words I was singing.

As we returned to the chorus for perhaps the third time, my mind was drawn toward our hands linked between us, and I began to think about the repeated “us” in the chorus. It could apply to my husband and myself just as much as to the greater church community.

Consider this:

God with us
In the beautiful and the difficult places, He is present. Yes, there’s this:

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  -Psalm 139:8-10

But what about the near-by places? Have you thought about these as well?
·         In the loan office at the bank
·         In the bathroom, puking
·         In the delivery room
·         In the doctor’s office where we again hear, “Not this month”
·         In bed (yes, there too)
·         On that trans-continental Skype call
·         At the quiet little restaurant where we celebrate our anniversary
·         Through our worst fights

And in a thousand other places, God never fails (Lamentations 3:22), never quits on us, never takes away His grace. This applies not only to me as His child, but to us as an example of His love (Ephesians 5:25-31).

God for us
God is for our marriages! When it feels like everything in our culture is trying to tear us apart or convince us to quit, God is still rooting for beautiful, long-term, covenant marriages.
Nothing can come against
Our unity makes us stronger than one standing alone. We pull each other up, support each other, and bear burdens together. We cannot be crushed, cannot be swept away. When one is weak, the other is strong. When one cries, the other shouts (Ecclesiastes 4:12, Galatians 6:2).

No one can stand between us

What God has joined together, let no one separate.  -Matthew 19:6 NIV

As long as we hold tight to Him and each other, no earthly entity can separate us, and certainly no created person. God Himself has made us one.

Trying reading Romans 8:38-39 with your name and your husband’s in place of “us.”

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, or any powers, neither height or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [husband’s name] and me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  -Romans 8:38-39 NIV (amended)

If neither of us is separated from the love of God, then neither are we separated from each other. Such strength in His love!

Our marriage retreat weekend was filled with encouragement, fun, and Spirit-led learning, but my biggest take-away revolved around this new song. Our families are the body of Christ just as the larger church community is His body. The New Testament truths about church (e.g. John 17:23, Ephesians 4:1-3, even 1 Corinthians 12, just to name a few) are also true of your family and mine.

Question for Reflection: What Biblical truth about the church would you like to “own” for your marriage?

Has a worship song (or some other seemingly unrelated thing) specifically blessed your marriage? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!


Carole Sparks is a Bible study writer who sees God’s hand in the mundane and the magnificent. (That’s her Twitter bio.) After twenty-one years, she still finds nothing mundane about holding hands with her husband and something magnificent in the way they now have the same ideas without even trying. You can also catch up with her on Facebook or her blog.

11 April

Above All Else, Guard His Heart

I’ve heard it said a husband’s role is to guard the home entrusted to him while a wife’s role is to guard the hearts within that home. While responsibilities and roles in marriage vary widely, I like this image of husband and wife standing at the threshold of their home, arms locked, with him looking outward and her looking inward. Both are fiercely protective of the family God has given them, but they approach it in different ways.

King Solomon recognized the importance of protecting our hearts. He urged, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). While we can’t protect another person’s heart in the same way we protect our own, there are things we can do to make it easier for our husbands to guard their hearts.

The hardest part of a [ministry] career, Mr. Taylor found, is to maintain regular, prayerful Bible study. “Satan will always find you something to do,” he would say, “when you ought to be occupied about that, if it is only arranging a window blind.”[1]

It’s so easy to get distracted. One of the best ways to guard his heart is to make sure he has the mental and emotional—even the physical—space to spend time with the Father. Our husbands need to be “fed” by the Word of God just like everyone else, but it’s easy for vocational ministers to replace their personal quiet times with sermon preparation or other study. It’s also easy for us to think those precious few minutes he spends at home are ours to dictate. After all, curtains need hung, children need disciplined, grass needs mowed, and if he sat down for a cup of coffee with you…well, what could be more important than that?

Ladies, let me just say it: Nothing is more important to your marriage or your ministry than your husband’s intimacy with God.

Prioritize your husband’s personal time with God to see a stronger minister and a better #marriage. #pastorswives @Carole_Sparks (click to tweet)

As you ask God how to prioritize your husband’s quiet time without interfering in his relationship with God (because we don’t want to nag or play the Holy Spirit in their lives), consider a couple of broad applications.

1.      Clear the way for him to grow as God leads him.
For years, I got up first and started the coffee pot at our house. That made it easier for my husband to get up for his quiet time. (These days, it’s the opposite!) Anticipate the obstacles he’ll face tomorrow and do what you can to eliminate them.
2.      Back out of the way of his personal growth.
Be careful your expectations don’t occupy every moment he spends at home. For example, some things on your “honey do” list have been there for months. An extra hour in the morning on his day off isn’t going to make a difference.

If I prioritize my husband’s time alone with God, he will find it easier to continuing growing into the man God has created him to be!

Question for reflection: How can you clear the way or back out of the way so your husband has a greater opportunity for intimacy with God?

About the author:

Carole Sparks is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her website, http://carolesparks.com or her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com.

You can also find Carole on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

[1] Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. Hendrickson: Peabody, Massachusetts. 2008 (pg. 201). The bracketed text was originally “missionary,” but the thought applies to all vocational ministers.

24 January

Honoring Our Husbands Among Friends

By  Carole Sparks.

It’s a natural thing for married women. We get together. We talk. And often, the talk turns to our husbands. Then the talk of husbands turns downward. We begin to joke or complain about them. How often do you hear a wife praise her husband when she’s with her girlfriends? Not often? Me either. Perhaps it’s humility that stops us; no one wants to brag or be thought prideful, but perhaps—and let’s be brutally honest here—it’s just more fun and makes us feel superior to share their failures.

When you’re hanging out with your church friends and your husband is also their pastor, you simply cannot play this game! In order to fulfill his God-given responsibility as the church’s leader, he must be respected by the membership. In order for your girlfriends to submit to His leadership, they must honor him. Detailing your husband’s faults, however humorous, derails that respect.

  -Proverbs 31:23

This is one of the biggest challenges I faced as a new minister’s wife. I wanted to be accepted in my ladies-only Sunday School class. I wanted my peers to treat me like “one of the girls,” not like a party-pooper pastor’s wife who frowned on their fun. I had already learned, however, that husbands need respect in their marriages more than anything else. Emerson Eggerichs, in Love & Respect, encourages wives to guard their tongues and never tell stories that demean their husbands, neither in his presence nor in his absence.

It was hard, though, because my husband has committed some doozies, and they are fun-ny! I learned to ask his permission before sharing any story that was even slightly negative, and to be sure I included how he resolved the situation as part of the story.

But more importantly, I learned to think about my husband differently, to “take captive every thought” about him in particular (in the spirit of 2 Corinthians 10:5). Honoring my husband had to start in my heart.

Over time, I commandeered Philippians 4:8 for my purposes. While this isn’t exactly what Paul intended when he wrote it, I think this application fits into the purpose of the text. Try it with me. I’ve added blanks to the verse. Put your husband’s name there.

Finally, …self, whatever is true about _____________, whatever is noble about _____________, whatever is right about _____________, whatever is pure about _____________, whatever is lovely about _____________, whatever is admirable about _____________—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy in _____________—think about such things.  -Philippians 4:8, with additions

Can you think of one true thing about your husband? One lovely thing? One praiseworthy thing? By stopping each negative thought and instead willing yourself to “think about such things” as these, you will gradually transform your perspective on your husband and find you don’t even want to tell the embarrassing stories.

The wife must respect her husband. -Ephesians 5:33b

I still have to apologize to my husband sometimes because I’ve spoken without thinking and dishonored him among friends, but this practice of thinking on the positive things has protected his honor and—bonus!—improved our marriage.

About the author:

Carole Sparks is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her website, http://carolesparks.com or her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com.

You can also find Carole on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

16 February

The Not-So-Perfect Husband of the Pastor's Wife

Yesterday evening I experienced it yet again. The notion that somehow, because my husband is a pastor, that he can do no wrong.

A silly little exchange took place: At the beginning of the Bible study, a man announced, "I need to sit by my wife so that people don't start wondering about our marriage." He then began to finagle things around so that they could sit together.

With a twinkle in my eye, I quipped jokingly: "I never sit by my husband at Bible study. Do you wonder about our marriage?"

To which he replied, "But that's different, he's a holy man."

"Aaannnndddd.....?" I asked, to the giggles of a few.

Truthfully, I'm flattered. I appreciate the love and respect given to my husband. It surely beats the opposite. Yet, at the same time, I'm a tiny bit troubled.

My husband isn't Jesus. (Pause and think about that!) My earthly husband is not Jesus.

He's a sinner saved by grace, just like the rest of us. He makes mistakes. He forgets things that are important. He's doesn't always have the perfect reply for our children. He still even... (gasp!)... sins!!!!

Ask him! He'll tell you the same thing.

I tried to tell that to a friend I had at a former church. She once told me of her hope that her daughter would marry a pastor. She admired my husband (for better or worse, I guess), and wanted her daughter to marry someone like him.

I tried to tell her that marrying a pastor was not a guarantee of anything, but I didn't really sense that she believed me. I told her I knew plenty of pastors who had lied, cheated, beat their children, or left their wives. But she just had this image in her mind of my husband, and how much better he was than her husband.

Yes, he sins. Do people realize that? Will they become disillusioned if/when they do?

But if I'm honest, sometimes I even forget that my husband is a sinner. Then, I act all surprised when he does exactly that. I get aggravated with God, too, if He doesn't smack him or limit his abilities in sermon-writing or something until he sets everything right with me or whomever.

He's a good guy. Don't get me wrong.

But again, he's not Jesus. And if I can't get that straight at times, I guess it shouldn't surprise me when others struggle with it, too.


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