“I want to be ‘in it” together, but it usually still feels like ‘his’ thing. How can we build more ‘teamness’?”
Sitting at lunch with a new Pastor’s wife, this question came up again. I remember wrestling through this in the beginning (and not so long ago – transitions to new places make us revisit it.) Here are some big ideas that floated to the top of our conversation – thought maybe you’d be encouraged by them. Wish you could’ve had shared the Thai Curry too!
Being a team is often less about what happens up front than what happens behind the curtain.
The strength of our team is built in the difficult conversations: the midnight pleading with the Lord together for direction, the digging into questions of what God would have us do to navigate a crisis among our staff, the conversation about what God is doing in my husband’s heart as He convicts him of sin surrounding the passage he’s going to preach on Sunday. When people thank Craig for a message, I often tell them that “those lessons were hard won around our dining room table and our living room. You are benefiting from lots of wrestling to figure out how to follow Jesus in this area.”
So, being a team isn’t about signing up for a position of leadership or being visible at more events. That unity is helpful. But the real work at being “in it” together happens when you are filling a role only you can fill – as his wife, as his helpmate, as his partner.
Being a team means recognizing and celebrating the blessings that come with our differences and making them work for us.
This was NOT readily apparent in our first years of student ministry. Whenever we had an event to plan, we had different visions for it along with different ideas about how to get everything accomplished. It wasn’t until we began to realize that God had intentionally put us together, as a team, because there were things we each brought to the table that would make the end product so much better. It would be lacking if only one of us were on this team!
But celebrating our differences isn’t easy when we are fighting about how we are going to get the work done. It becomes easier when we take some time to:
- Talk about what each of us brings to the table. Become acquainted with each other’s strengths. Verbally affirm them often. Realize that the very things that cause conflict are what God has provided in us to accomplish His purposes.
- Take time on the front end of a project to share your different visions of what it could look like. This short-circuits conflict when we bring expectations into the light.
- Divide and conquer. Then, stay in your lane. Hopefully, this is where your gifts are used and you thrive. But be humble enough to invite the other to speak into whatever is in your lane. This increases connectedness, fights pride and territoriality and allows you to both to be each other’s
Being in ministry as a couple can be one of the most joy-filled experiences in our lives. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that when times are hard. But realizing that God does so much more through us as a couple than He does through us as individuals builds a confidence in our marriage based on God’s work in it. Craig and I have been a team, doing lots of different kinds of ministry, for over 25 years.
FIVE DATE NIGHT QUESTIONS:
Here are some questions that have helped us have conversations that strengthen our “team”.
- What Kingdom dream has God put on your hearts that keeps you going? This can change from season to season. What is it now?
- What is God doing in each of your lives as He fulfills that dream? Look for what might seem like little things. Remember that little things in God’s hands become big things.
- You are better together. What are 5 ways that God has made you a better ____________ through your marriage.
- What are 5 ways that God has made your spouse a better ____________ through your marriage?
- Talk about one way that your spouse helps to support what God is doing through you?