An older pastor with some cross cultural experience writes this briefemail to younger leadership seeking to encourage them in ministry in basic and practical ways. His response to Timothy could apply to any person in ministry seeking to glorify God.(By Alan Utting www.firstfruitsministries.org.nz
- Biblical Principles.
God ordained marriage between a man and woman (Genesis 2:24). Almost every culture has some form of acknowledgement when a couple are married and for many people including Christians, this acknowledgement of commitment occurs in a church setting. God’s design for marriage is for three reasons: 1. Companionship to help one another (Genesis 2:18) 2. Procreating of children (Genesis 4:1) 3. An expression of love, including through sexual intimacy (Ephesians 5:25-31).
- Satan is out to destroy Christian marriages regardless of how long a couple are married. There are no exceptions, however praise God we have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 15:57)!
- Having attended a marriage enrichment course recently I realised that it is important to work at keeping the marriage relationship alive. Don’t replace it with ministry. Lose your marriage and you are likely to lose your ministry. Most ministries will carry on without us, but what an unnecessary sacrifice to lose your marriage and possibly your family in the call of ministry. As someone said, “A need doesn’t necessarily mean a call” so don’t attempt to do everything that needs doing.
- Make your spouse your best friend. Invest in special times with your partner every week otherwise you may unintentionally grow apart. It may not cost you much money, but how about a regular romantic meal together or some other activity every week? Where there is a will, there is a way. What day, time and activity are you going to make? ………………………………………………………………..
- Don’t deal with heavy discussions late at night especially when you are angry (Ephesians 4:26). Tackle issues when you are feeling refreshed. Read books about dealing with conflict. Keep the issue in front of yourselves rather than between yourselves. Get help to sort out issues causing conflict when you need to.
- Learn to pray together about important matters. Your heavenly Father cares for you.
- Love is primarily a commitment, not simply romantic feelings.
- Financial spending is often a source of conflict. The person best able to pay the bills should take on that responsibility and not everything we purchase has to be new or the best. Many parts of the world are influenced by a harmful ‘consumer society’. Try hard to avoid debt, as the Bible discourages us from having debt.
- We usually bring different perspectives from our upbringing into our marriage and think it is the only way. Learn from each other what you want to implement together. During difficult times, get help.
- Don’t try and change your partner. Pray about it.
- Lastly but certainly not least, learn to forgive! This may be hard but necessary for trust to be built up again over time, especially when the hurt has been significant.
Some suggested resources
- The Alpha marriage seminar from Holy Trinity Brompton, London
- Secrets to lasting love by Gary Smalley
- Seven Principles for making marriage work by John M Gottman