Since the beginning of time, there has been a struggle in ministry. Lucifer, the great and beautiful angel, the “Day Star” (Isaiah 14:12-14), full of wisdom and perfect in beauty (Ezekiel 28:11-19), had a power struggle with God. Some make an argument that Satan was a ‘worship leader’ in the heavens before his fall. Either way, the struggle has been here from the beginning.
There seems to be a trend in the ministry that I have seen repeated quite a bit in the past few years. Husbands leaving their wives for other relationships. The wife is a leading lady in ministry, the husband more behind the scenes in support. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not stupid. I know women leave the marriage relationship as well. It just makes me ask questions like “How?” and “Why?” without real answers because each situation is unique. I can’t imagine the pain these women are bearing in having to confess to the world that their marriages have fallen apart. It absolutely breaks my heart. It makes me want to weep.
While I am not the leading lady of a ministry, I am the wife of a worship leader. I have a few years of being in the ministry under my belt. I won’t pretend to know it all, but I do know the struggle is real. For both my husband and myself, it just presents itself in different ways. For my husband, it is staying humble. Pride is an ugly thing. One of the ways Greg keeps himself in check is saying “There will always be someone better than me. I am not irreplaceable.” In my heart, I disagree with him, but I know it really does help him to not think to highly of himself. For me, it is more of the feeling of being unseen, unknown, unheard, unrecognized, unappreciated. It is lies of identity that I face . I often feel in the shadows, and even though it’s where I prefer to serve, sometimes it can get to a person.
I wish I had 5 easy steps to affair proof your marriage when you are involved in the ministry. But I just don’t. It makes me think of the Casting Crowns song “Slow Fade”. I truly believe it is just that. A slow fade. I don’t think men or women wake up one morning and say “I think I’m going to go and commit adultery today and ruin my spouse’s ministry!” Right? It also makes me think of David. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be. Instead of being a king who was a leader, he stayed behind while his troops went to battle. Then he saw a woman bathing on her roof. I’ve heard people say “Well, why was she bathing on her roof? It’s Bathsheba’s fault too!” Well, if all the men were at war, it seems she wouldn’t have had any fear of being seen. When we find ourselves in places we aren’t supposed to be in, trouble is just around the corner.
I just picked up a book from Amazon called “No More Perfect Marriages” where the authors share their story of a broken marriage and reconciliation. They share what they feel were the slow fades in their marriage. You can being doing all the big things right and still fall prey to temptation.
I want to just take a minute to remind all of us who the enemy is. It’s so easy, especially as women, to see people, words, or even actions as the enemy. “If she just would have done this instead of that…” “If she wouldn’t have said that to me…” “Can you believe what she did?” “She is just bad for me.” Right?! But God’s word tells us clearly: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12. We have to suit up daily in our spiritual armor. Take some time and read Ephesians 6. I can’t put your armor on. You can’t put my armor on. I can’t put my husband’s armor on. We have to do it for ourselves.
The enemy is real. He prowls around like a lion, looking for someone to devour. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I am utterly convinced that he is on the attack towards Christian marriages. I think he believes if he can destroy the home he can win. It makes my heart hurt to see so many Christian marriages fall apart. To see their homes destroyed by divorce. I refuse to say it will never be me. But you bet I will put up a good fight when he comes after me. Not if. When.
We have had our share of struggles in the past 12 1/2 years of marriage. We have had sit down conversations that lasted 3 hours about family coming before church/service/ministry. I remember being a weary and exhausted mother with 5 kids 5 and under and having a talk with Greg about him needing to let a ministry go. I was too weary to go it alone any longer. Having him gone Sunday morning and evenings, Monday nights, Wednesday nights, and the occasionally Thursday was just too much for me those years ago. There was this struggle of wanting to support my husband in his gifting, but really needing more of him at home. Not only needing him at home, but needing him to be present. In those days, it felt like if Greg was home he was working on something for church.
I know we will have more struggles. By the grace of God we have a strong, healthy marriage. It hasn’t been without its temptations; which I believe is why it’s strong. We have overcome temptation and decided to take the narrow way in situations. I remember a time in our marriage when there was another woman texting my husband. Shoooo-weee. Nope. I wasn’t having any of that. Greg is pretty good about believe the best in everyone, but I knew exactly what she was up to. Later, when hindsight is always 20/20, Greg was able to say “You were right. If I would have given her the time of day, she would have taken it.” Dag gum right, she would have. And I knew it. But we pressed in together. Greg made a wise decision, however awkward it may have been for him, telling her she needed to stop texting him. And I am forever grateful he did. He knew what could have been at stake: his ministry, his integrity, his character, his family, and so much more.
A friend recently reminded me that we cannot control our spouses. Don’t you hate that? I know sometimes I do. In the context of marriage, you can’t make your spouse be faithful. Their heart has to want to be! Yes, there are things we do to cultivate our marriage, to plant good seeds, pull up the weeds, water it, and take care of it. Do those things! Absolutely! But make sure you are going deeper than just the action. Get to the heart.
I know marriage struggles happen to everyone, in the ministry or not. Whatever situation you find yourself in, I pray that God will strengthen you and your spouse. That your hearts would be for one another, that a desire to be faithful would be rooted deep within both of you. That while the struggle may be real, you will be for one another, for your marriage, for be willing to do the hard things.