“I’m collateral damage…” 4 Thoughts for Pastor’s Schedules

These three words stopped me in my tracks yesterday and broke my heart.

While on my way to a highly packed and anticipated schedule, the most unexpected moment happened. When I’m in certain a part of our state, I try to frequent a very unique store. Every item sold has a story and a mission. For example, I’ll buy a bracelets hand-made by women who’ve been rescued from human trafficking and the money goes to help the outreach. I love giving them my business and gifting someone so that I can share the story of this organization.

Yesterday, I found a mug with the word, “rest.” Purchasing it was going to provide a weeks worth of water for someone in Ethiopia. I have no problem paying a premium price with a premium mission. On top of that, it’s a message my wife and I love to live out and speak into others. We’ve been casualties of workaholism. We have seen others struggle and break under a lack of margin built into their lives. And we have a passion to see others get control of their schedules before their schedules claim them, their marriage, and their family.

At the checkout, the woman boxing it up was so kind. She complemented me on the choice of mug and reiterated the mission it was going to fund. I shared that I was a pastor and I was planning on gifting it because of the message of “rest.” A bit of my testimony came out about my propensity to not rest. She began to tear up and open her heart.

“I understand what busyness and a lack of rest does. I was a pastor’s wife for twenty years. Please help pastors to know how to rest. Why? I’m collateral damage.

It was as if time froze and my world cease to turn on its axis.

I would have taken a deep breath if I could locate any oxygen in the room. Words in that moment were hard to come by. It wasn’t awkwardness but a mutual understanding of the pain that busyness can lead to.  What I’ve learned early in my marriage claimed hers.  I couldn’t fight my tears at the checkout. Even now, I sit in a coffeehouse with tears streaming down my face.

In the words of James in holy scripture,

“…Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”

I understand the context of this scripture is the instability of having our words containing both curse and blessing. But I wonder if it still fits THIS context. How do we as pastors preach a blessed life but facilitate schedules that curse our marriage and family? I’m not against being busy. The work ethic my parents instilled in me pushes me to be productive. I am not about laziness as I see that as poor stewardship of my time and resources. But the refusal to build healthy margin (rest, relationships, and recreation) is placing a weight upon our spouses and children that is breaking your family speaking a message contrary to what we are preaching.

On top of that, what example are we giving to our congregations to follow? I’m tired of hearing about a pastors getting burned out. If that’s not damaging enough, the next pastor who follows has an expectation built of a pastor schedule looks like. And if he/she isn’t keeping up what was previously modeled, then upheaval happens.

I get seasons of busyness. But there’s a massive difference between a “season” and a “lifestyle.” There are “occasions” and there are ingrained “behaviors.”

The collateral damage is so much deeper that we’ve anticipated. But there is always hope.

Psalms 139 your schedule. 
Read through and pray the entire Psalm through. It’s of my favs. Verse 24 that will stand out as you pray the words, “Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”  Have your schedule in front of you and listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Schedule margin (rest, relationship, and recreation) into your schedule. You’ll be a better spouse, parent, and pastor if you do. 

Repent to (and with) your family. 
Vulnerability to your spouse and family helps you stay “human.” They not only want to hear that there’s going to be change but they want to be a part of it. Don’t think they’re expecting perfection; your family just wants to see change. It will take time, intentionality, and probably some failure at the attempts. It’s okay. You’re human. I’d rather deal with a pastor “failing” at trying instead of failing to try (you’re probably not “failing” at trying but I get what you’re feeling when things doing feel like their working).

Confront the “feelings of busyness” with healthy productivity. 
I find one of two things happening with busy pastors. First, there’s a propensity to not want to change how you lead as you pastor. We want others to change but don’t enjoy seeing it happen in our lives. Yesterday’s methods and styles may or may not fit today. But if you don’t evaluate effectiveness, then you don’t know if your being productive. Second, if you don’t evaluate “how” you’re spending your time, you can be wasting the “great” moments of your day doing “good” stuff. “Good” isn’t bad. But if there’s no evaluation, then you can fill your schedules doing “good” stuff and not necessarily the “great.”

Get some mentoring. 
There’s a reason I want to be in connection with other pastors from different size congregations and denominations. I want to learn. I want to grow. My introverted nature enjoys working out things on my own. But you and I were designed to work in community. Again, if we’re preaching it, why don’t we live that. Get yourself some good books. Sit with other pastors. Allow some accountability and personal growth goals.

I know there’s a question looming: Why haven’t I given you the name of the business I was at? Because it’s here in west Michigan and I’m more concerned for protecting the identity of this wonderful, yet hurting, individual I encountered. Message me if you want to know the name if you’re desire to give them your business. I’m just trying to be cautious.

I love you pastors. This systemic issue isn’t exclusive to our vocation. But if we can get a hold of this heart for health, work to practice it, perhaps it’ll give us a platform to perpetuate it in our congregations.

I love you all. Praying for you.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Never Alone: 5 Thoughts on Marital Responsibility and Commitment

I love talking to couples. Marriage fascinates me as not only do I want to learn more to bless other couples, I want to glean so that my marriage can grow.

My “go-to” question for couples is simple: “What do you know now that you wish you would’ve known before you got married?

I’ll admit, there are two types of couples that I love to ask that question to. The First couple is an older couple that has, minimally, 40 years of marriage. Their answers have shaped me and challenged me as their answer has so much depth to it. I hear things like “my son’s ball game should have been more important to me” or “don’t stop dating each other.” With so many years experience, their answers are more than initial thoughts. There are depths to understanding the importance of what you do today and how they shape your tomorrow. The second couple I love to inquire of are newlyweds. Their answer helps me know what to emphasize in premarital counseling. Often, communication is the initial answer. But after that, personal habits and the things connected to their spouses upbringing comes up.  Young couples take for granted what he and she are bringing into the marriage from their past/family history.

So back in March, I was hosting a Ty and Rebecca Buckingham to speak at Kfirst (BTW: buy their book). And like always, since I had their attention in the car, I decided to ask “the question.” Rebecca’s answer was priceless.

“I’m the only one that can be Ty’s wife.”

That’s more than a nice sentiment. For a young couple, that is an unbelievable revelation. It’s not an overly spiritualized, predestined approach to say, “From the beginning of time, I had no choice as I was predetermined by God to be stuck…er…blessed with Ty.” In one sentence, there is a realization of responsibility and commitment as to say, “when I made my vows to him, I made a covenant to take on a role that refuse to allow anyone else to play.”

What if you and I held that stance? What if we looked at our marriage and said, “I am the only one that can be (insert spouse’s name) wife/husband”? What does this mean?

I own my spouse’s needs.
There’s a massive difference between needs and wants (which can be its own blog) so PLEASE know the difference!!! But in a marriage covenant, I am assuming responsibility over the needs that my wife has. This fact shouldn’t be taken to an extreme of thinking we are at the “beck and call” of anything they ask for. In the same breath, we shouldn’t go to the other extreme of ignoring needs that we just don’t want to deal with.

I don’t outsource what I am equipped (or need to be equipped) to do.
When my spouse has a need, I own that need. In other words, I keep it on my radar as to make sure I can position it to be met. I don’t outsource my spouse’s needs (spiritual, physical, mental, emotional) that I’m equipped to meet nor to I see her needs as something I can defer to someone else. When Anne has a need, I start with me first. If I can’t meet it, the question comes up, “Should I be able to meet that?” If so, there’s some marital development that I need to do. The needs of marriage are what keeps me in a state of growth and health. Constant outsourcing of my spouses needs isn’t marital care but a delegation of responsibility so I don’t have to personally change. My spouses needs should start with me.

I position needs, I don’t defer them.
I recognize that there are some “needs” that are going to be met by people other than my spouse. That’s fine, but we take ownership of those needs as to position each other for them to be met. If I own (take responsibility) Anne’s needs, I can(take responsibility) own the answer to them. For example, if she needs to have time with her friends, instead of me guilting her over the time she’ll spend with them, I can encourage it. Why? I’m taking responsibility for her needs. I enjoy experiencing and watching sports. She encourages me to be with friends who enjoy the same thing as to help me find enjoyment and leisure. So instead of dictating how our needs are met, we own each other’s needs and make sure each other is in position to have them met. My spouse doesn’t need my permission; my spouse needs my unity. Because, according to Psalm 133, where there is unity,  God “commands his blessing.”

I own our issues. 
Far too often, I speak with people who are dealing with the issues of their marriage WITHOUT their spouse. Why? Because of statements like, “That’s your problem not mine” or “You’re the one with the issue.” So instead of owning the issues, we either allow our spouse to deal with it on our own or we want someone else to come along side of them.

The statement that says, “I am the only one that can be (insert spouse’s name) wife/husband” is a statement of “We.” It’s saying that if you have a problem, we have a problem. Why? Because the “two become one.” It doesn’t mean that I have the answer for everything, but it’s refusing to have your spouse feel abandoned in the midst of conflict or offense. “If you are going through something, we go through it together.”

I’m in this for the long-haul.
Lastly,  Rebecca’s response is a reminder that marriage more than a promise made at an altar but daily decision. The statement brings both focus and determination to every single day. It says, “Today is a new day, a fresh start, and a new opportunity to be the spouse I need to be.” It perfectly mimics the faith journey with Christ. We don’t just “set it and forget it.” It is a daily decision to follow Christ. It’s a daily decision to lay down selfish ambitions and to walk in oneness.

My challenge to you today: Make that determination to look at your spouse and say, “I’m the only one that can be her/his spouse.” Own his/her needs. Refuse to let him/her feel alone. Make the daily commitment to journey together.

Love you all. Praying for you.

Encouraging my effort.
Celebrating our progress.
Feed hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: My new book of my blogs came out. Click on the image to order yours!!

How Would Your Spouse Describe You? 3 Steps To Help Reshape Their Answer

I have a fascination with photography. Maybe a part of it is because my daughter has developed into an amazing photographer. I love how passionate she is and that she’s using it to get to go to a mission’s trip to Thailand (shameless plug for her).

Love my daughter's creative eye. Obviously, this was in Washington DC.
Love my daughter’s creative eye. Obviously, this was in Washington DC.

I think the fascination is also fed because we have so many great photographers in our church community. Whenever I hit up Facebook, I see their work and find myself clicking on their pics, being proud of how gifted they are, and being bit envious of the “eye” they have for seeing what they see. If you ever need to get connect to one of them, I’d be happy to give references.

The other day, I was on my admin’s Facebook site (CXN Photography) and their posting caught my eye and stirred a blog thought.

Screen Shot
Screen Shot of CXN Photography.

What a cool idea and an amazing exercise for ANY couple to do. I asked Nicole about it and she told me how fun it was to describe your spouse and insightful it was to see how our spouse would describe you.

I sat back and thought, “If someone asked Anne to describe me, what would she say?” I would hope for things like, “He’s the sexiest man alive.” or “He’s a great husband, dad, preacher, etc.” What Colin and Nicole posted got my mind going into a such fun direction. Quite honestly, I may steal this idea as I think it’d be a blast to give to couples.

Then I found my mind going a bit deeper with it.

Instead of wondering what Anne would say, I asked myself, “what would a brutal honest exercise like this look like based on the material I give her to work with?” What was a fun little moment turned into a bit of a sober, introspective thought. So often in marriage, we are quick to place blame our spouse for what is/isn’t happening when, perhaps, we need to ask about the material we’re giving them to work with.

Sometimes I have to remind myself: I may not be the easiest thing to live with.

I know your spouse isn’t perfect (or any where close). But tossing blame is a childish game designed to shift the focus and responsibility upon someone else. It becomes our excuse to refuse to change until we see him/her change. Now, I won’t give a “permission-slip” to spouses for inappropriate or unhealthy actions, but I believe if I want to see change, then change starts with me. Perhaps, if couples exercised personal humility, they’d find an easier job experiencing marital unity (Proverbs 18:2). Why? Because you’d be working with material that is shapable instead of hardened with pride. It’s why scripture says,

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15

I’ve heard it said, “Humility is not thinking ‘less’ of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” So, today, I want to give you some great, simple steps to help develop some humility that will leverage marital health. The more humility you exercise, the more opportunity you have to grow. And from this, perhaps, you’ll begin to change how your spouse sees you and your marriage.

Ask for insight. If you know the motive of an individual, you know how to receive or trust what they have to say. First, ask the Holy Spirit for insight into your heart. Because our actions and words pour out of our heart. His motive for you is complete, unconditional love and we can trust that if He shows us something that needs to be tweaked or changed, He has our best interest at hand. I love the words of the Psalmist who said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

Second, if you trust that your spouse loves you, then ask him/her about areas of personal growth. Don’t approach it from an aspect of “what areas to I lack in?” but “what areas do I need to grow stronger in?” I feel a positive and affirming approach facilitates momentum and encourages humility.  If you’re only doing this to get your spouse you respond the same way, you’re missing the point of the exercise and your motive is no longer selfless. Be the change; be an example.

Own your mistakes. Like a plow hitting harden soil, owning your faults will prepare for the investments of time, energy, and resource. Take the energy you use to defend yourself and redirect it into owning mistakes and asking forgiveness. Why waste time trying to defend what shouldn’t be defended. Own them, repent of them, and quit living in them.

Invest in healthy habits. At Kfirst, we’ve been saying every week that “Healthy habits create holy moments.” In other words, you can see God-moments happen in your life when you position yourself to walk in a healthy manner. Habits like:

  • Working on communication skills (just because you talk a lot doesn’t mean you communicate well).
  • Forgiving as Christ forgave.
  • Encouraging your spouse often.
  • Pray for AND with your spouse.
  • Getting proper rest.
  • Showing gratitude frequently.
  • consistent dates.

First, healthy habits are intentionally created and developed over time. We, naturally, flow toward what fits “self” and not what speaks to others. So you need to look at your daily and weekly life and be intentional about finding ONE area and making the change there.

Second, habits grow well in an atmosphere of accountability. Get help from a trusted source to both encourage you and inquire of your progress. Find a counselor. Get a mentor. But have that objective Godly source that you can be honest with and can keep you connected on the road to health.

For some of you, the question “How would your spouse describe you?” is not something that you could ask out loud. But, perhaps, it’s a question that can direct you toward some deeper introspective questions to foster some personal and marital growth.

I love you all. I’m praying for you today.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed Hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

What to not forget about on Valentine’s Day! 1 Thing I want you to remember about February 14!

A week ago, I preached a message about rest.  In that message, I had made a statement about the issues of vacations and sabbaticals.

Would the urgency of vacations and sabbaticals, as well as the length of them, be necessary if we knew how to rest on a consistent, healthy basis?

It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in them (vacations and sabbaticals). I highly recommend them for everyone.  But when you don’t have a consistent intake of rest, you don’t get the most out of the times away because you have to spend to much of the time trying to acclimate yourself to the new surroundings.  I hear it all the time, “I took me 2-3 days just to relax and decompress so that I could enjoy vacations.”

I would give a similar statement on this holiday that comes every February 14…

Would the emphasis, urgency, and stress of Valentines be necessary if we knew how to be romantic to our spouse on a consistent, healthy basis?

It seems we can take our spouse for granted.  We tax our marriages with little time for us as a couple to rest and recreate.  Words of affirmation are few and far between because, “my spouse knows what I feel.” Sex is only reserved for “moods” and is looked as optional.  It’s no wonder why people binge on this one day a year (well twice IF you remember Sweetest Day in October).  Spouses stress out on plans and details.  Because of the holiday, you end of over-spending in such excess with the hopes that your tax return will help take away some of the sting.  Expectations are built up, and if not handled correctly, can be let down. There’s a lot of pressure in Valentine’s Day.  Why? It tends to be one of the few days that couples stop the world around them to focus upon each other.

Thus, the 1 thing I want you to remember about this Valentine’s Day is:

The romantic response of Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be reserved JUST for Valentine’s Day. 

During premarital/marital counseling, I love to ask couples, “What the definition of romance?”  I always make the groom/husband answer first.  That way, if the bride/wife answers first, he can’t say, “What she said.” I hear all sorts of answers. Flowers. Dates. Candy.  Movie.  Sex.  Those are all good answers, but they may not be the right ones.  Why? The answers might not be completely romantic to their spouse.  AND, what does Valentine’s Day get filled with? Flowers. Dates. Candy.  Movie.  Sex.  Again, not against those awesome things, but they may not speak romance to your spouse.

Can I give you a different AND simple definition of romance?  Romance: Serving your spouse’s love languages.  

That’s it.  Even in its simplicity, there’s tremendous complexity.  Why?  Two words:Serve” and “Spouse’s” These two key words help divert your attention off of what you intended to get out of romance and puts complete attention upon someone else.  You don’t give what you would want. You serve what speaks to your spouse.  It’s why flowers and candy might be what you would want, but is it what she wants?  A movie might be what’s on your mind, but is it on his mind?

This is why couples gorge themselves on V-Day.  They’re romantically starved throughout the year and February 14 is the buffet for them.  They will feast on the romance of the evening. Why? “Who knows when my spouse will get romantic again?”

I’m all about celebrating Valentine’s Day. It’s fun to have that day a year where, it seems, the whole world stops to focus upon couples.  But, for the sake of your marriage, would you make a decision to pour romance into your marriage throughout the year instead of the holidays that demand it (V-Day, Anniversary, Sweetest Day). Would you find time to, consistently, pour romance into your spouse by serving their love language?

“But if I meet my spouse’s needs but my needs aren’t met?”

My response: If you have TWO people who openly communicate and serve each other’s love languages, that question will never be asked.

If Valentine’s Day is the one day you pour into romance, then you and your spouse are romantically starving each other.   It’s time to move the romantic pressure off of Valentine’s Day and spread it over 12 months.

I leave you with an amazing verse from Hebrews 13:16

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Did you see that? When you serve, you please God.  When you romance your spouse (serve their love language), you please the heart of our Heavenly Father.

My Valentine’s advice: Go out on a date with your spouse.  Have a conversation and a make a commitment together that February 14 is NOT gonna be the end of the romance.  It’s going to be a fresh start, the launch pad, for your marriage to consistently serving each other’s love languages and having a marriage that pleases the heart of God.

Enjoy.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

What my parents didn’t teach me about marriage – Part 3

Two weeks ago, we started this new blog series that focused upon the things my parents didn’t teach me based upon some of the issues we see today.  Again, please don’t take any of the following blogs as a guilt trip to those who have struggled or have made mistakes.  I do not elevate anyone, including my parents, above Christ. But I do obey scripture to “give honor to whom honor is due.”

To catch up, read Part 1  and Part 2 of the series here.

Part 3…what didn’t my parents teach me?  They didn’t teach me to withhold encouragement.  

I stand by a statement I said to our congregation at Kfirst on March 23rd, 2013:

“If you are NOT an encourager, you will NEVER become the spouse/parent God wants you to be.”

That message was a crossroads for me as a believer and pastor.  I remember the season of ministry I was in. It was astounding the amount of people (including pastors) that were calling me just discouraged.  They were broken and bruised.  These people were either beat up by discouragement or starved by the lack of encouragement.

What does that have to do with what I learned from my parents and or marriage? Well, first of all, they were married.  Secondly, they are pastors.  I have seen them discouraged in life and ministry.  Yet of all of the things they didn’t teach me, they didn’t teach me to allow their circumstances to make them serve encouragement sparingly.

I don’t think of a single time in my life where I didn’t see them encourage each other, their children, or the congregation they served.  I can’t even recall moments in my life as a child/teen/adult where they were not the first to step up as an encourager in my life.  Believe me, they’ve had every excuse to not be encouraging. I’ve seen people treat them terribly.  As a pastor’s kid, I’ve watched discouraging moments happen to them.  People have taken advantage of their kindness.  Others have turned their back on them.  Circumstances have come and gone that would’ve depleted anyone of joy…yet, no excuses were given and words of edification were always in great supply.

Now, I recognize that many people (possibly you the reader) never had that growing up and/or have it now as an adult.  As stated in my first blog of this series, they’re not perfect.  But their example has shown me this:

No matter if you had someone to encourage you in your past or not…
No matter what you are dealing with right now…
No matter if there’s no one in your corner right now…

…you can and should be an encourager.

Proverbs 11:25 “he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

The cycle of discouragement must stop here and NOW. You may have an excuse to not encourage.  We all do.  I know my parents did and probably still do.  Life is hard.  Sometimes life just plain sucks. But there’s something powerful about the issue of encouragement: when we launch out to refresh others, we get refreshed.    I don’t believe the refreshing comes from others.  I believe it comes from the Lord.  If you are depending upon your spouse (or anyone for that matter) to be the one to “fresh” you, it is clear that your life is centered upon deriving meaning, purpose, and joy from limited finite sources.  In Christ we find life.  And it’s from Him we get refreshed.

Stop waiting for others to refresh and replenish you.  Don’t wait for your spouse to be the one to take the first step.  Christ didn’t wait till we were ready to receive him to give hope to our discouraging circumstances.  He gave.

And because he gave…we too can give.

Keep encouraging.  Keep refreshing and let Christ help you become the spouse you need to be.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

My Marriage is Terribly Inconvenient!

IMG_9603
I’ve been married 16 years. I love being married and I can’t imagine life without Anne.  We have had some great times and moments. We laugh a lot together. We have two fantastic children and we are blessed to serve in an amazing church is their pastor.
But I’ll say this is of my marriage:  It can be terribly inconvenient.
If I were really honest I have to tell you that when I got married, I thought marriage would be way more convenient than what it’s been. I thought my needs and wants would be fulfilled on my terms (in the way and timing I want).
I think I came in a marriage with a pretty good understanding of the commitment I was making. I had a great example in my parents. I knew, somewhat, what to expect. I knew what I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife.  But after all these years I can say that I know beyond a shadow of a fact:
Marriage can be terribly inconvenient.
When I look at how much I’m supposed to love my wife…(Ephesians 5:25)
When I realize how I am supposed to forgive…(Ephesians 4:32)
When I’m tired and don’t feel like doing what my spouse wants me to do…(Galatians 5:13)
When I want to hold onto bitterness because I’m entitled to it…(Ephesians 4:31-32)
When my spouse wants give time I feel I don’t have…(1 Peter 4:10)
When my spouse’s preferences I’m the complete opposite of my preferences…(Philippians 2:4)
When I can’t have something just because I want it in that moment…(1 Corinthians 10:24)
When my responsibilities are infringing upon my fun/relaxation…(Ezra 10:4)
… I realize once more that marriage can be terribly inconvenient…in light of my selfishness.
This is where so many people trip up. People feel that convenience is required and absolutely necessary for there to be tranquility in the home. But when I look over vows for marriage…
I take you to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
If you understand them well, they warn us that there are seasons ahead that are not always going to be conducive to the life that we want or, sometimes, even dreamed. I like what Ecclesiastes 3 says…

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

We have to realize that within the covenant of our marriage, the seasons of life doesn’t lean toward convenience AND, therefore,   convenience is not always necessary nor is it required. Whether it’s what we watch in TV, see in a movie, or read about in a book,  we can be seduced by sugar-coated marital stories that our convenience must always come in the play when it comes to our marriage. We think that everything has to be about “ME.”  \
But sometimes when it comes to marriage covenant, convenience is not necessary.
I think it’s time for husbands and wives to step up and suck it up. It’s time for us to get past the mindset that the world revolves around what’s convenient for me and get into the mindset about what is necessary for the marriage.  As I say often in marriage counseling, “you don’t go for the win for the ME… You go for the win for the WE.”
convenient
I recognize how hard you work. I recognize that some of you are tired. Selfishness is like Nutella…it’s way too easy to indulge in. Your wife/husband was not called to be convenient to your wants. Your marriage should not be built about what’s convenient for you. Again, I look at the way Jesus responded to us. Think about it, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cried out for another way. Why? Because the way he needed to go was not convenient for him. The way of the cross was painful.  The journey was not easy. But because of the joy set before him he endured the cross. He had a covenant of love with his people. And it is through that covenant we need to understand our covenant toward our spouse.
Marriage involves a lot of sacrifice from BOTH husband and wife.  Healthy marriage thrives on mutual servanthood brought together in the love and covering of Christ.  We lay aside ourselves for our spouse. We live out sacrifice together as husbands and wives…
…and sacrifice is never convenient.
It’s time to step aside from the drive of convenience.
it’s time to lay down selfishness.
It’s time to be a marriage where the TWO strive to serve in the ONENESS of marriage.
Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Marriage Blog: You’re my partner not my project.

I like to fix things.

I can’t always say it fix things correct the first time.  I wish I had the engineer mindset of my father or my grandfather possess  They had the ability to take anything apart and put it right back together.  But I do my best.  Typically, I’ll google answers and watch the demonstration on youtube.  More often than not, the project does get done and Anne is very happy.

I’m not always in “fix it” mode but when I am, I’m ready to look for anything that needs to get done.  I’ll get into a zone and harness my “Tim ‘the tool-man’ Taylor” mindset walking around looking for the next thing to fix.  I don’t care if it’s a chip in the drywall or Anne’s hair-straightener, I’m ready to attack.

tim the toolman

This is where so many spouses get it wrong.  We are never content with our spouse and he/she knows it.  Good is never enough.  We constantly see something that needs to be “fixed” with our spouse and, most people like this, have no problem letting their spouse know what’s wrong with them.   I’m not saying there’s no legit issues that need to be taken care of.  But I’m afraid we have too many homes where the spouse doesn’t feel like a spouse. The spouse doesn’t feel like a partner…

He/she feels like a project…nothing more than what is wrong in the home.

That may not be your intention, but it’s the truth of what is happening. You are so bent on “fixing” what is broke in your spouse that you’ve forgotten that it’s God’s job to fix broken people.

What are the traits of a spouse who thinks they are married to project?

  • You know better.  Your way of life is superior and, obviously, your spouse isn’t living up to that standard.
  • There’s no equal footing.  Two full partners are not making up this marriage.  You are the majority stock holder and your spouse is there as a silent partner.  Decisions MUST go through you and ramifications follow if they don’t.
  • You are the superhero and your spouse is the irrelevant side-kick.  You save the day and your spouse wonders why the side-kick is even necessary.
  • When you refer to your spouse in conversations with friends, they can tell from the tone and the look on your face how discontented you are with him/her and they hear how you’re going to change them.
  • You tend to talk to your spouse like a child. Why not? He/she isn’t as mature as you.
  • You make sure your kids know that you are the parent they should be coming to.  When you mention anything about your spouse to the kids, it’s always in the sense of “they don’t know better…let me tell you the right way of doing this.”

I’m sure the list can continue, but the fact is we are ALL broken.  We are all mistake ridden. Even as I type, I think of what the Psalms says,

“If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130:3

You drive to fix your spouse is proof enough that you need help just as much as he/she does.  Stop trying to find fulfillment in fixing your spouse and find your fulfillment in Christ.  Stop wielding conviction in the home when that is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict.

I like what Pete Briscoe says, be “intimate consultants. You are intimate because you know your spouse better than anyone else. And you are a consultant because you point your spouse in the right direction when asked.” Remove the undo pressure and stress of the home and instead of trying to do something you don’t have the ability to do, provide an atmosphere that fosters the presence of God.  It’s in His presence we find fullness.  In in His presence, all of us are changed.

We’re all broken but it’s in Him we live and move and have our being.

Thanks for letting me ramble…