This post was written by Angie Hooie, a member of the INCM Blog team.
Being married in ministry offers its own sets of blessings and challenges.
But the challenges can be vastly reduced by using a few tips for marriage and ministry.
My husband David and I have been married for nearly 24 years, and the whole time we have had kids.
We’re a blended family.
Our oldest is from my husband’s first marriage who I adopted when we got married.
Our middle daughter we adopted out of foster care.
Our youngest is ours together.
Since we said “I do” it has always been busy, and we all know that life and ministry can be chaotic and challenging.
Each of us has so many responsibilities that the things that we need to tend to, our marriages or meaningful relationships and family, can often be overtaken by the ever-growing to-do list and urgent ministry needs.
Sometimes, it can feel like we only do ministry work, and don’t connect with the people we love, the people we serve, or the One we’re serving.
But what I’ve learned and continue to learn is that if we want to have a life that is full and satisfying as we serve in God’s kingdom, we have to make time for who matters most.
We have a choice when it comes to being intentional in our relationships with others, and in our personal relationship with Jesus: do we take the time to invest in them or set them to the side in order to do the work of ministry?
If we’re going to experience a full life in our family, marriages, and ministry, we’ve got to get our lives rightly ordered.
Here are three tips for marriage and ministry that will help you, and have helped me.
1. Abide in Jesus
In John 15:4-5 Jesus says to his disciples, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
These verses are what truly began my personal relationship with Jesus.
I grew up in a Christian home, going to church whenever it was open.
But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I even heard the term “personal relationship with Jesus.”
The words in this scripture inspired my desire to know who our Savior is.
My husband even got me one of those yellow “Christian Prayer for Dummies” books. (Remember this was the 90s.)
Since then, I have prioritized my relationship with Jesus with time alone with Him.
We have to abide with Jesus in order for our relationship to grow with Him.
We have to abide with Him to know Him better and hear His voice more clearly.
Your time with Him will look different than my time with Him.
Your time is spent very differently than mine, depending on what takes your attention now.
You could have little people all around your feet in the morning.
You could not be a morning person at all.
You could be managing a lot in your ministry.
You could have downtime.
Here is how we have made abiding work for us in our lives right now:
- We enjoy our morning intentional time with Jesus together.
- We have two devotional books that we read and discuss together over coffee.
- We drink lots and lots of coffee.
This gives us time with Jesus and with each other.
It grows our faith individually and as a couple to have this time together, to discuss scripture and pray together.
After my husband leaves for work, I have some alone time with another devotional, prayer, and worship music. (And some tears most mornings.)
You might be single or have busy littles at home.
Whatever your situation, find time to abide.
Make it a ritual. Do it with coffee or tea.
Do it when you wake up in the morning, at lunch, or before you go to bed at night.
God wants to dwell in you, and you desperately need time with him.
2. Manage First Inputs
Another practice that I started during COVID was not opening my phone first thing in the morning.
I made it a rule to not check my email or social media before I have my time with Jesus.
My first input is the Word of God, not the world.
It set the tone for my whole day.
Rather than worrying about the things that were worrying during the height of the pandemic, I started my day with the One who already knew the headlines.
To adopt this in your own life, get an old-school alarm clock.
Leave your phone to charge in another room at night.
Put your Bible by your bed or in a spot you can go right to in the morning.
Leave your phone until you’ve had time in God’s Word.
3. Make Time to Date Your Spouse
When my husband and I had our youngest, a mentor couple gave us some priceless advice.
They told us to prioritize date night.
We were broke, busy, and sleep-deprived.
As we looked at our full life with 3 kids, jobs, and responsibilities, we thought, Seriously, date night was their advice? How in the world were we supposed to do that?
Early on, date night looked like going to the grocery store or walking the mall without our kids.
Now that we are almost empty nesters (I like the sound of that), we go out to dinner together once a week.
And we set up one rule: No kid talk at dinner.
We talk to each other about each other.
Block off a night for date night.
For those of you who are married with kids, taking care of your marriage is key to parenting together.
This protects your primary personal relationship. Schedule time together.
Did you know that If you have 5 hours of undistracted time together per week, you will be in the top 3% of couples who are satisfied in their marriages?
It seems shocking. But replacing time staring at your phone with staring at your spouse can have some amazing benefits.
Don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be.
Too much time apart breeds problems.
Do nothing together, just talk and leave your cell phone in the other room.
David and I actually talk at dinner.
Cell phones are not allowed at the table.
We talk about our “happy & crappy” and where we saw Jesus at work that day.
We debrief together valuing the input of one another into our ministries.
I love what Brad Rhoads said on his episode of the D6 Podcast, “Think of [your marriage] as a garden. If you don’t tend the garden, weeds come up. Then it takes a lot of work to get rid of the weeds. The weeds aren’t hard to avoid, but pretty hard to fix.”
Tend to your marriage and relationship with Jesus.
Uproot bad habits that take away from time together and create healthy rhythms for time together.
When your marriage thrives, your family thrives, and your ministry will, too!
Angie has been married for over 21 years, and has 3 kids. She has been volunteering in children’s ministry for over 20 years, and was called into vocational ministry 7 years ago. She oversees 3 campuses and has been deeply involved in growing and expanding her church’s special needs ministry.