My wife and I married over 15 years ago, and we've had our share of ups and downs. Throw in having four kids and starting a church, and we've had many days we felt our marriage was surviving instead of thriving.
Over the years, we've had to make many adjustments to reconnect and grow in our relationship together. The enemy will do everything to destroy your marriage in hopes to stop your ministry. We all know that in theory; but in practice, it's easy to forsake or take for granted your relationship with your spouse.
Here are five ways for your marriage to survive and thrive in ministry:
1. Stay close to Jesus. The bottom line: The closer you are to Jesus the greater potential for you to be closer to your spouse. Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit" (John 15:5). The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and all the rest. Whose relationship wouldn't be better if that is the fruit you are producing? Stay connected to Jesus.
2. Go on a date together each week. We do this during the day once a week. We save on childcare because our kids are in school. Disconnect from social media, email and your phone while you are together. It communicates your spouse is a priority and nothing else matters. Talk about your dreams. Share something funny that happened. Laugh together. Hold hands. Look them in the eye. Reconnect! A regular date is a non-negotiable. You will give every excuse why you can't do this each week. It's a lie. Pay the small price for regular dates or the large price for counseling later.
3. Say you are sorry and mean it. Drop the pride. Stop reading this and call them right now. Life is too short and your calling too great to hold on to grudges. It's the little offenses over the years that build up and destroy marriages. The enemy knows he won if he can get you to see your spouse as your enemy instead of your partner. If you don't let it go, one day you will wake up and say, "How did we get here?" How you got there was one small offense at a time. Let it go!
4. Serve each other. One of the quickest ways to grow bitterness in your relationship is by serving everyone else in ministry but neglect to serve your spouse. Find out ways you can serve them that make them feel appreciated, and do it every day. Pick up the kids from sports practice. Clean up after dinner to give your spouse some alone time. Take the kids to the park while your spouse gets a moment to breathe. It's the little things that make a big difference!
5. Honor each other publicly. Speak well of your spouse in front of others. Paul said, "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other" (Rom. 12:10, NLT). We tend to focus on what is wrong with our spouse. Instead of finding the 10 things that are wrong, find the one thing that is right and honor them. Your spouse will become more of whatever you speak over them. If you don't like what you are getting, then change your tone and what you are saying.
Your marriage will not become great by accident. In your efforts to reach everyone around you for Christ, don't neglect the one relationship that matters most on this earth. Healthy marriages have the potential to produce healthy ministry. Work on it every day.
Kevin Campbell is a church planter and the founding pastor of Elevate Church located in San Diego, California. He has a Master of Divinity from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Kevin and his wife, Susan, have four children.
For the original article, visit lifeway.com/pastors.
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