It’s Wednesday!!! I LOVE Wednesday’s! Why? Because Wednesday night is date night…and there is nothing better than date night. :-)
Let me back up and confess something…there are a lot of things on this planet I do not do well. For example—I do not snow ski well. I’ve tried and have discovered that I am cursed…to be honest I can’t ever get off the stupid chair lift—whose idea was it anyway to put a 90 degree ramp that is iced over at the end of the chair life anyway?
I don’t water ski well either. Believe me…I have tried…but after years of sore muscles and drinking half of Lake Hartwell…I’ve finally decided that I was not made to ski.
As I said—there are TONS of things I do not do well…but…one things I do well is love my wife. (I know this because I often ask her does she feel important and loved…if that question scares you then you probably know the answer!)
Don’t get me wrong…its not easy to put the marriage before the ministry. We both wrestled with whether God was really calling us to date one another back in 1996 because she knew I was going to be a pastor and I knew she was going to be a doctor…these are NOT two professions that typically go together.
And, to be honest, I will tell you why she wrestled with this so hard…because she had seen how the traditional pastors wife operated and she knew she could not be that person. We had a long discussion about this and I told her not to worry about it because I didn’t think I was going to be a traditional pastor…boy was I right!
We planted this church together and have watched it grow…while at the same time she has completed her residency program and has began serving this community as a physician. It’s been a challenge…but our marriage is stronger and better than it has ever been. Here are just a few things we have done to make it go smooth.
#1 - SHE is my priority—PERIOD!
I have told our church from the stage before that Lucretia comes first—always…because reality is I could always plant another church—I could never get another Lucretia.
Now we both understand that there are seasons when the work is demanding and things just need to get done…BUT those seasons are the exception…NOT the rule. AND…I do my best to make her aware of when those seasons are heading our way…and we make plans to spend a lot of time together before AND after that season of demand.
AND…I am at home nearly every night—period. I do not fill up my schedule with meetings and visits…I go home—where a man should be at night—loving and serving his wife. And pastors—please do not send me some stupid e-mail about how I have a big church and do not understand…and how you don’t have the luxury that I do. If that is you—pay attention dude—I did this when we had 100 people coming…I did it at 200…in fact, this is something I have ALWAYS done.
Let me just say this and then I will move along. If you are putting your church before your marriage then one of two things are taking place. #1 - You are on a tremendous ego trip and need to feel needed, and so you make yourself available to the flock for the purposes of feeling better about yourself and NOT for the purpose of ministry. Or, #2 - Your marriage is in bad shape and you are choosing to ignore the problem because you fear what people might say about you “not being available” to your church. Pastors—remember this—the same people who screamed, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” at the beginning of the week were the same ones screaming “crucify Him” at the end of the week! You know it’s true—and when that happens…YOU WILL NEED HER!
My advice—get your rear end to the house and spend some quality time with your wife.
#2 - She Is My Wife—Not The Churches Wife.
In the fall of 2000 NewSpring had to go to two services. I remember Lucretia and I having a discussion about whether or not she should come to both. I made the decision then that she only needed to come to one service…and that proved to be wise as we went to two services…and then three…and then four.
I once had a person ask me, “Why doesn’t your wife attend all of the services.” I immediately asked that dude, “Why don’t YOU attend all of the services…my wife is doing great in her walk…you need it more than she does!”
Pastors, you MUST protect your wife. Lucretia does not go to a lot of Bible studies…she’s not expected to. When I do have a meeting in the evening she is usually not there…she’s not expected to be. She is my wife—she married me…she didn’t marry NewSpring…and I have always been passionate about protecting her from expectations of church members who would never place those same expectations on themselves.
#3 - DATE NIGHT!!!
Yes, this is a soapbox…and I will talk about this until the day that I die!!! If you want a strong marriage then you MUST have a date night!!!
And WHEN you have a date night—leave your flippin’ cell phone in the car! Give her your full, undivided attention…talk about life…dreams…plans. Date night is NOT when you and her sit at a table…but you are on your cell phone solving problems for your church.
Date night is also not seeing another couple from your church and feeling like you need to invite them to sit with you—you have GOT to get over that NOW!!! You need to understand that you will either offend them OR you will offend your wife…and gentlemen, I would much rather keep my wife happy!!!!
People have asked me, “What if an emergency takes place in the church?” My response has always been, “If NewSpring can’t exist without me for a few hours…then NewSpring is in a lot of trouble!!!” I’ve had people ask me, “What if someone died in your church—wouldn’t you want to know?” My response is always, “Yes…when date night is over!” (And I make no apologies for that!)
#4 - Talk About Your Wife From Stage—In A Positive Way!
I love Lucretia…and everyone at NewSpring knows it. I talk about her all of the time…and I will continue to do this as long as I serve as pastor.
And men, WHEN I talk about her…it’s in a positive manner. I have heard pastors “go off” on their wives in public…and to be honest…I would love to go Nehemiah on those dudes. (Read the last chapter of Nehemiah if you don’t know what I am talking about!)
Affirm your wife—lift up your wife…people need to know you love her…and trust me, she will NOT get mad at you for doing this!
#5 - Constantly Ask Her Does She Feel That You Love Her More Than You Love The Church.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, “She KNOWS I love her more than the church.” That’s not what I said…I said does she FEEL like you love the church more than her…because a woman reacts based on how she feels…and to her…what she feels is reality…and if she feels like she is “second fiddle” to the church then eventually she will begin to resent the church…and you!
Lucretia and I have this conversation often…and it helps me to refocus and reflect on how I can invest more time into my relationship at home.
Men, I am not the perfect husband…I screw up so much it isn’t even funny…but…I do have a strong marriage…I do have a wife that loves me and loves the fact that I pastor this church—and she loves the church as well. That is a result of not just flying by the seat of my pants—but carefully made decisions and actions…
I love you ‘Cretia (yes, she reads this blog) and I am looking forward to our date tonight! :-)