Recently I read a thought-provoking article on Crosswalk.com, “Husbands, Love Your Wives More Than Seminary.” It is a powerful challenge to excellent men to love their wives. But I want to look at the flip side and peek into our role as wives – particularly wives of great men in ministry.
Being a wife to a good man is a privilege -- not a right. I see it as a high calling to have the opportunity to be married to a man of God, and it is worth most any sacrifice.
Sacrifice of Perspective
Sometimes we need to look at the long-range goals on the hearts of our husbands before we voice complaints about our current circumstances. Early in ministry, we went without a car to get Bill through his bachelor's degree which would allow us to get to seminary. We rode bikes everywhere and with each push of the pedal, Bill’s heart of affection grew toward me.
In this season of famine, we also got to see our youth group pray and ask God to provide a car. The kids even gave us a bumper sticker that read, "Expect a Miracle." The miracle came about six months later. The family of a senior woman who passed away sold us the car for the price of a brake job: $68.74. That season of sacrifice followed by a miraculous blessing prepared us for a life of trusting God together. So far, the sweet, exciting adventure has lasted 31 years.
I can’t tell you how often I hear women married to good, godly men complain about how hard their men are working and how they, “just don’t have enough time” with their husbands. I respond, “Girl, get a grip; he has a job!” It's also tempting for wives to complain about the mess his remodeling makesof the house, or moan about how much room his tools take up, or whine about all the car parts spread about from the auto he is rebuilding.
One day, a friend and I were comparing notes on the realities of being married to a hard-working guy. Her garage was packed with several antique cars all in various stages of repair. Meanwhile, the home Bill had built for our family still lacked floorboards and a few doors were missing molding. Our home needs just never felt as pressing as the crises and struggles of those in the church where we ministered.
We both stopped mid-sentence and smiled, “But this inconvenience is a small price to pay for a marriage to a really great guy.” Both our husbands are kind, compassionate, diligent leaders at church and in community, terrific fathers and incredible lovers and providers. A few car parts or some undone household tasks were suddenly put in their proper perspective by the Spirit.
Sacrifice of Praise
People often ask us how our kids turned out as adults who feel positively about God and church. This is a direct correlation to a decision I made towards my husband’s calling in ministry.
Bill has always placed me “as the first sheep in his flock,” so the kids and I always are on the top of his “To Do” list. However, soon after taking over the senior pastorate and jumping into the daunting task of hammering a home together for our growing family, my amazing guy found himself short on time for the more typical romantic gestures I had become accustomed to. One day, when I was complaining to God about having to share my amazing man with all the needy in our community, God reminded me of this verse from Matt 15: 26 – 28
"He (Jesus) replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”
Heb 13:15 encourages us to “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.” We will be better off if we make it a lifestyle to thank God and our man even when it includes a little sacrifice. God honored and entrusted me with the joy of a marriage to a truly high caliber man and even the "crumbs" of his time are so much better than the lack of love some women experience. This realization fashioned an important decision: Don't complain about the time I do not have, rather enjoy the time I do have with Bill.
This decision dominoed into affirmation to our kids about the upside of having a father who is also a pastor and leader. If his meeting ran long, I would remind them that some children do not even have a daddy. They have a daddy who is so wise other people want his counsel. And if a family holiday was interrupted by a death or crisis of a church member, I would take the boys back to all the times God provided fun extras, like a weekend in a church member’s mountain cabin, fun on a church member’s ski boat or riding another’s ATV. These are the blessings in the “plus column” of having a great dad who is also a great man.
I believe many of our early hardships were a series of tests from God to see how I would handle our love in the midst of a very hectic life. Because I elected surrender to the Sprit’s prodding and chose to keep my attitude positive time and again, I believe God saw the ability to entrust to us an international marriage ministry. It was a reflection of Matt 25:23: “ . . . You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things . . . ” We can handle a love “on the go.”
Serving and leading can be a challenge, but that challenge can bring you together if you choose to see service as a blessing. Yes, both Bill and I have sacrificed time with each other to serve others, but it has made us more in love. We are doing interesting things, helping interesting people in interesting places, and when we come together we share joys and victories.
It is a choice to want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who laid down his life, who sacrificed out of love for us. Just as Jesus rose in victory, small sacrifices can add up to triumph and success, even in love.
Bill and Pam Farrel are international speakers, relationship specialists and best selling authors of over 30 books. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook. www.billandpam.org