Four ways for couples to keep the joy in joint ministry
Perhaps many people in ministry have this concept of how things should look: Strong, anointed husband brings the Word every week while Proverbs 31 wife leads the women and hospitality ministries. Together they engage in perfect parenting with a home life envied by all.
Idealistic? Maybe. But when you throw in pressures and expectations coming from the church flock, many husbands and wives find joint ministry a challenge, if not a disappointment. In our own journey of leading two churches, blending a family of four sons and endeavors that go beyond ministry, we rely on the grace of God and the following few strategies to help us survive and thrive both at home and in leading together:
1. Remember, there is a unique model for every couple. Marriage is as unique as the two people in it, and while the aforementioned ideal may be attainable for some, for most of us it looks different.
When we married six years ago, Ron was eager to bring Lynette into his ministry world. Lynette had a thriving corporate career and wasn’t inclined or able to lead weekly meetings with church staff or wives. So we considered how her “gift package” could add the most value. We have since experimented with several models, including team-building and mentoring moments that leverage her talents and communicate care and commitment.
As we grew in our marriage, Ron would often ask Lynette to come up at the end of his messages to share a word of encouragement or to pray. This feels natural to both of us and fits well with Lynette’s spiritual gifts. At times she will preach, though we rely on our staffs and other leaders to “pull” for this versus us “pushing” it.
Conversely, when Lynette was plagued with sleepless nights over the tragedy of child sexual slavery, Ron dove in with his years of nonprofit leadership to help her launch Stop Child Trafficking Now, investing two years of his time—from 8 p.m. to midnight—to help fund and grow it.
No one person will embody all aspects of ministry. Our model is ever evolving as we both stretch our comfort zones and come on board with one another’s vision. Talking openly about expectations helps us know what is most meaningful to both of us and helps us communicate commitment—first to one another, then to those we serve.
2. Cultivate togetherness behind the scenes. Couples in ministry are like an iceberg; what is visible is only a small part of a much bigger picture. We work on emotional and spiritual bonding by praying together most mornings and texting throughout the day.
Preserving our unity is a daily priority and at times a daily challenge. Some weeks we do better than others, but we are always conscious of connecting, knowing it energizes us for greater impact individually and as a team.
3. Be real and transparent. There is a reason reality TV is thriving. In a time when so many people are suffering and struggling in their personal lives, they are drawn to real life and those who seem to do it well. We strive to be transparent—be it with our staff, in leading our home group or up front on Sundays. At times we will banter a bit or share a recent challenge. Without fail, these moments receive the loudest accolades, as people thank us for “being so real.”
4. Thousands to serve, only one to please. One thing that helps us is remembering that while expectations and demands are as numerous as the people we serve, it is really about pleasing God and being a steward over what He has called us to do and to be. We are constantly reminded of our dependence on the Holy Spirit’s grace and wisdom in order to lead together well.
Ron and Lynette Lewis pastor Morningstar New York (msny.org) and King’s Park International Church (kpic.org) in Durham, N.C. Lynette is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and currently serves on the ORU Board of Trustees. Together they founded StopChildTraffickingNow.org, among other ministries. For more information visitronlewisministries.org and lynettelewis.com.
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