Marriage and Ministry, Part 2

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Marriage and Ministry, Part 2: Healing Begins With Humility

Jesus sought time alone prior to significant events: choosing His disciples, being tempted by the Enemy, walking on water, and preparing for trial and crucifixion. Paul took an extended wilderness retreat after his conversion before launching his ministry. God regularly speaks to leaders when we draw close to Him and listen to that small still voice.

Yet leading from a permanent position of isolation is not a good place to be, nor a biblical one. It is God’s intention for a leader’s isolation to be temporary solitude, not long-term seclusion.

couple on a dock, talkingRemember Kevin from our previous article?  He has grown increasingly isolated from his wife. It has even become easier to set himself apart from Karen than to face her. Soon, conflict with his wife bleeds to other areas of his life, including with his children and his staff. Kevin feels completely alone.

Now Kevin sits isolated in his office trying to figure out where things went wrong. Maybe the best thing to do is to break ties with his wife and start over in a new life and a new job. Kevin has reached a turning point. Will his temporary isolation from his wife become a statistic … or will he embrace humility and chart a course off the island of isolation?

What’s Your Approach to Differences?

Kevin and Karen’s differences are driving them further apart each day. Yet as Kevin mulls over his wife’s characteristics, he realizes she isn’t a difficult person to get along with. Nor is he.

Kevin thinks back to what he had first found attractive about her. The qualities he had admired about Karen were so different than his own. Those qualities have not changed in her.

What has changed is the way that both Kevin and Karen have looked at their qualities. Personal traits that attracted them to each other were qualities that now pushed them apart.

Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves … your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3, 5).

Jesus did not discount His own abilities. But neither did He use His giftedness to measure others. Instead, the driving force in His earthly relationships was the humility he exercised to value others and their abilities.

As Kevin pondered Jesus’ approach to valuing others and his own approach to his marriage, he admitted that he did not always imitate his Savior. During that time alone in his office, Kevin at last understood the first step in resolving his differences with Karen. He needed to humble himself not only before God … but also before his wife.

A Problem to Be Resolved – or a Strength to Be Celebrated?

Kevin humbled himself and approached Karen with a simple question. “Why do you think God created you and me so differently and placed us together in this marriage?”

He was surprised with Karen’s quick response. “Well, I don’t think it was to frustrate us,” she answered.

Karen had hit upon a powerful point. God brings two people together to complete each other, not to frustrate each other. Differences are not a problem to be resolved but rather strengths to be embraced and celebrated.

Kevin’s next questions were full of sincerity and humility: Why are we so frustrated and alone? Why do our differences seem to divide instead of unite us? What are some ways I can affirm the strengths you bring to our relationship? As Kevin and Karen talked long into the evening, they resolved to discover how they could learn to appreciate their individual uniqueness, stop living as two, and start living as one.

Your Next Step Is One of Humility

While leading in both his home and his ministry, Kevin had made the all-too-common misstep of believing his way was the only way and the best for everyone. Judging others who approaching things different than him, especially his wife, led to isolation and loneliness. Kevin discovered he was the chief cause of his exile to that lonely ministry island.

It was at that point of brokenness when God showed Kevin a way off the island: he could approach his wife in humility, embrace God’s plan for their differences, and seek to understand her instead of judge her.

Will you let Him do the same for you?

Read other articles in our Marriage and Ministry series

Marriage and Ministry, Part 1: Exile or Escape?

Marriage and Ministry, Part 3: Your Spouse’s Strengths May Surprise You

Marriage and Ministry, Part 4: Risks and Rewards of Leading From Your Strengths