Pastors’ wives (PW) and women in ministry are incredible sources of wisdom and creativity as they use their gifts in leadership and service. I highly value their insight, faithfulness, and diligent labor. That’s why I’m hosting Wednesdays Are for Women. Each week, we’ll hear from a different PW or ministry leader and gain her perspective on God’s activity on her ministry team, her local church, or the issues facing church leaders today.
Today, we’ll hear from Laryssa Toomer from Manna Church in the Fayetteville/Fort Bragg area of North Carolina. Are the lines between marriage and ministry getting a little blurry? Laryssa offers some practical advice:
I recently bought an embroidered hand-towel that says, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Being married over sixteen years and looking back, I can truly say that the little things really are the big ones.
Ministry marriages don’t go bad overnight; it almost always happens progressively. Somewhere along the line, we become so busy or inattentive that we stop investing in daily friendship intimacy. We often think:
“Once this [ministry] event is over, we’ll invest more time and care in our marriage.”
“Things will flow more smoothly at home after we get past this busy calendar period.”
“The children require a lot of my time right now.”
“…just a few more emails, then we’ll have face time.”
The truth is nothing just happens. We don’t float into a great marriage by ministry-default. And we’re often blinded to red-flags because it’s easy to confuse ministry success with marital success.
One of the most profound statements I heard at Velocity 2011 (the annual churchplanters.com conference) during the Pastor’s Wives session was this: “Often times, we are good ministry partners but not good marriage partners.” This statement made me stop in my tracks and prayerfully ask God to reveal the areas where I have confused the two. Another pastor recently said something along the lines of, “…[marriages] tend to shoulder ministry side-by-side very well but we rarely do life face-to-face well.”
Love deepens for one another in marriage not by major moments in life or ministry, but rather by the daily investment in your relationship with your spouse. Here are some ways you can proactively seek opportunities to connect, even when you don’t feel like it:
Look into each others eyes when talking. This lets the other person know that you value them.
Put down phones and devices when talking to your spouse.
Pray together consistently, preferably non-ministry requests.
Speak truth to your spouse in love and not from a place of self-righteous annoyance or a desire to make them change.
Confess sins and weaknesses regularly to your spouse.
Forgive and extend grace, remembering that we, too, have been forgiven greatly.
Participate in an activity together–a shared interest, or a hobby that neither of you are familiar with that requires you to learn together.
Appreciate and celebrate the uniqueness and differences of your spouse. Quirks aren’t necessarily sin or bad habits but rather God’s design.
Resolve conflicts as they occur. Press for unity in those small moments instead of your own way.
You can gain a wealth of wisdom and resources on your marriage and ministry at Velocity 2012. It will be a great venue to connect with other wives who understand the unique challenges we face in our relationships while serving on the front lines of ministry.
Laryssa Toomer is married to Jeff, the Cliffdale Site Pastor for Manna Church. Drawing from experience in both military and ministry leadership, they love helping families persevere through life’s challenges by the transforming power of Jesus. Jeff and Laryssa have been married sixteen years and have three children, Jonathan, David, and Zoe. Laryssa enjoys fitness, great coffee, and family games. You can connect with her on twitter at @laryssatoomer.