Saturday, July 19, 2014

Husbands Trump Ministry

"I should have told you sooner," the voice on the other end of the phone said, "but I don't think I can help with x-ministry-project (fill in the blank) because of traveling opportunities with my husband."

I freely admit that I was sad, disappointed. My mind whirred with options and ideas for "Plan B." But the conversation had to end with, "Your husband is number one. He has to win. Husbands trump personal ministry."

This is a tough one for some (maybe all) married women involved in ministry. We've been created by God with no less value than our husbands; no less importance. We have gifts and abilities and believe God has a plan and purpose to use us for good works (Ephesians 2:10). We find it both easy and taxing, rewarding and draining to give, and do, and serve. We sense a calling and great fulfillment in living out our design. Then, in the midst of it all--sometimes at a point of crisis--the world turns upside down when our husbands have a need, a calling, or simply confront us with our priorities. In that moment we are faced with the inevitability of letting someone down.

When our family was young, I found myself involved in many hours of ministry weekly as the commander of our 200+ AWANA club, director of Vacation Bible School and various other Bible study and music ministries. My husband, David, and our children were suffering--while I was serving. I am ashamed to share it, reminded of what my choices cost those I love most. The Lord graciously picked our family up, moved us across the States and David asked me not to serve. In goodness, God gave me the grace to agree. Over and over, I mentally wrung my hands in frustration, fighting bitterness and resentment, longing for the praise, respect and attention I was addicted to. It was long, dry desert experience as God--through the practice of submission to David--taught me that my value is not in my works, but His. Jesus is the measure of my value; His sacrificial life, death and resurrection speak infinite worth.

In the years since, I have moved back into ministry opportunities, but with an awareness and burden for our family over and above those from other directions. Yes, service to the local church, the community and individuals is important. But as a married woman, my first priority, my primary calling, is to my husband. The love and care I have for him reflects my love for the Savior--for both myself and others. In submitting to my husband, I am trusting God to meet my needs through him, according to the original plan, not in spite of him. In following David as the Lord directs, I find peace in knowing and doing God's will. He will provide for others with or without me. The real question is, will I choose to obey God or my own reasoning and desires?

We've been married 25 years and I deeply love, admire and respect the way David protects and cherishes me. With time, I have begun to realize that I am the only one who can help him. I have a greater understanding of his needs. Only I know, can anticipate, am enabled and privileged to be his personal, one-of-a-kind assistant. What a marvelous arrangement God has made in creating male and female to represent His image!

When extended family, entertainment, friends, or even ministry throw their hand in the ring, demanding your time and gifting, remember: husbands trump ministry.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 4:22-33)

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