Perhaps one peculiar challenge on pastoral couples or couples in ministry is that most people assume that they have it all together in both life and marriage…especially in marriage. There seems to be a general understanding among those around them that a pastor and his wife are always okay and that they are not prone to problems of any kind or in any form. For others, it is normal for other married couples to have to deal with numerous tensions and conflicts in their marriages, but not the pastor and his wife!
This is not true, of course.
Pastors and their wives are as human as the rest of the world! Ministry couples are not superhuman nor do they have supernatural abilities to fend off problems in marriage, in their family and in their personal life.
However, this is not the bigger problem. The bigger problem lies in the tendency of the Pastor and wife to begin to believe this fallacy. Many couples in ministry end up embracing the myth that they are indeed immune to the stresses in marital relationships and that their marriages are fail-proof.
A popular proverb says, “You are only as strong as your weakest link”. We often tend to focus more on our strong points, developing them or enhancing them, while on the other hand ignoring our weak points. After all, what damage can a weak link do? Oh, a lot! How many times have we seen or heard of otherwise godly men and women, ministers and pastors failing and falling through their “weakest link,” simply because they let down their guard on that one. The defenses are down or almost non-existent and therefore the most vulnerable to the attack of Satan. He doesn’t even have to throw a spear to wound your marriage; a mere toothpick can elicit the worst damage!
So here is a reminder for all of us pastors and spouses. As soon as we begin to think that we are never going to have problems in our marriage and begin to feel too confident with ourselves, BEWARE!
Satan will do anything to strike at marriage because it (marriage) is important to God.
And so, it is for these above reasons that we should never ever let our guard down. Instead, we should continue to be vigilant in keeping our marriages intact by keeping it in check. The moment we think we are not prone to marital breakdown, infidelity, abuse and other marital problems is the very moment the enemy has succeeded in getting his foot in the doorway. The moment we think we're not prone to infidelity, abuse... is the moment the enemy has succeeded... Click To Tweet
Luke 21:34 reminds each of us to “watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down”. It is not just a one-time “watching of self” or “being on guard” but a continuing, ongoing action. In other words, it is a habit of keeping ourselves in check.
We cannot become complacent. We cannot let our guard down. We have to always be on the alert in fighting against the things that can destroy our marriage.
List down the things that you think or believe can destroy your marriage. Be honest. Is it money, communication, personal addiction, unresolved personal issues, in-laws, ministry, work…?
Remember that you cannot fight an enemy you don’t know. You want to acknowledge it by naming it. Because by naming it, you are clarifying what the problem is. When you know the problem, you can be on your way to solving it.
Luke 21:34 continues by identifying what it is that can weigh us down – “being weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life”. In other words, from being overcome by the cares of the world that it overwhelms our marriages and causes cracks and breakdown.
Marriage is not a one-man or one-woman deal. It is a team that requires teamwork. Both husband and wife must be working for it, fighting for it and being blessed by it. Successful teams are always in step with each other. No one is left behind, and no one slacks behind, either. (See my previous blog on Teamwork in Marriage.)
Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 together, as husband and wife.
What are the benefits of a team, as mentioned in these verses?
What should one teammate do for the other teammate, as mentioned in these verses?
This is where many families fail at – knowing what they are here for. They don’t know what their purpose is as a family, so it will soon follow that they have no clue as well as to why they exist as individuals. It is the primary responsibility of the husband to lead his family. It is his duty to make sure he leads them in one, right direction.
What is your goal for this group of people that you lead and call your family? What do you want to achieve for them as a whole, as well as individually? What is it that you want to be known for or remembered for as you walk this earth? Are you all in on the same page? Does every member of the family (your wife and children) know what your vision and mission is for them?
Philippians 2:1-3 says, “…be of the same mind, maintain the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (NASB)
Sit down with your wife and children and ask them if they have a clear idea what your family’s purpose is. Don’t be defensive if they don’t say what you expect them to say or articulate it in the way you want them to. Listen intently. By listening well, you will know what is going on and what needs to be done.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Tan, from the Philippines, is a pastor’s wife, a pastor’s kid, a counselor, professional editor (for both academic and popular writing), resource speaker, writer, and blogger. Her passion is to minister to women (pastor’s wives in particular), couples and families. Donna’s ministry experiences span ages and cultures; having led youth and women ministries in the Philippines, as well as women ministries in the US (as a leader with Trinity Wives Fellowship from 2010-2012, in Deerfield, IL).
Donna is married to Dr. Jason Richard Tan (Ph.D.), and they have two children – Joshua (16) and Elisha (11). They have been married for 18 years. Jason and Donna are missionaries under GlobalGrace Fellowship (based in Pasadena, CA) serving the Philippines and Asia. She is the Admin Director of Great Commission Missionary Training Center. You can connect with Donna through her blog TonesOfHope.blogspot.com