By Jolene Engle, Contributing Writer
I didn’t always know how to serve the Lord. Ministry was not something I was exposed to when I was growing up. It wasn’t until after I started working at a Christian organization which ministered to homeless people that I was exposed to ministry, also known as, serving the Lord.
During this time of my life I was a single woman who spent countless hours serving Jesus. But then I met my Beloved and well, he wanted to be with me 🙂 so he joined me. He gave up his Saturday mornings as we handed out school supplies and shoes to kids in need. He spent his Thanksgiving morning with me as we fed the homeless, and then at Christmastime he put aside his schedule so he could hand out Christmas presents to kids who were less fortunate.
Ministry during this time of my life was simple, and in my mind, I thought our married life would always consist of something like this. But I was wrong. Dead. Wrong.
So what happened?
We got married and our babies entered in the world and that’s when things really changed.
For one, I became very ill for a good decade. They idea of raising kids, tending to my home, keeping the passion alive in my marriage and then doing outside ministry on top of all this seemed like a ridiculous notion to say the least. Goodness, I could barely get out of bed in the morning!
But looking back I could see we were always serving the Lord together. The only difference from when we served before marriage was that we were serving outside of the home and now we were ministering in the home. My husband poured into me and the family and I did the best I could to pour into him and the kids. After all, a Christ-centered marriage should reflect Jesus and His love for us.
Sometimes I think it’s easy for us to not feel like we’re serving the Lord when we’re only serving our spouse and children. ( only? scoff!) But this pursuit should be first and foremost. It’s biblical for our marriage and parenting to take precedence over outside ministry.
Now can a couple add more to their plate and serve outside of the home as well? Absolutely!
When your marriage has harmony (not perfection) and your children are being guided and trained (but not perfect) then, yes, venture on out of your comfort zone and serve the Lord. Better yet, try to serve the Lord as a married couple because when you can do that, it’s awesome because the two of you are being the salt and light together. But awesomeness takes time, a healthy marriage and the right perspective in life. I had to learn all of this over our 15 years of marriage.
Ministering to your children by raising them, training them and teaching them to serve others is something God requires from us as parents. This is so important because the Lord desires Godly offspring. (Malachi 2:15)
When these two areas are balanced and functioning in a healthy manner then seeking to serve outside of the home is what a couple should do.
I found that outside ministry ebbed and flowed throughout my marriage. For a few years I led Bible studies at my church and then based on the circumstances of my health and the needs of my children, I stopped serving in that capacity. And then there was a period in our lives where we ran a home school group, but at the Lord’s leading and because of our circumstances, we closed the entire thing down.
Go through your life with a Colossians 3:2 heart and when you do, you’ll soon realize you are always serving the Lord no matter if it’s in your marriage, or in your parenting, or by being involved in an outside ministry.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. ~ Colossians 3:2
Tips on Learning to Serve the Lord Together
- Continue to work on building a Christ-centered marriage. This is vital!
- Forsake outside ministry if you start to see cracks in your marriage. Now mind you, your marriage won’t ever be perfect, so you’ll have to discern when it is best to serve outside of the home and when it’s best to take a break. But the goal is always to be the salt and light.
- Ministries that aren’t gender-specific are the easiest place to start serving together. A few examples would be children’s ministry or missions. Ask your local church where they need help and pray as a couple to see where you can get involved.
- If the interest from one spouse is a gender-specific ministry, for example, maybe the husband has a stronger interest in a particular ministry than you do and the ministry deals with all men, see if you can come alongside of him so you can be together. Maybe you offer to open your home for Bible study and your man leads the group? Or you invite his buddies from men’s study over and you have a night of couple’s fellowship? Work on ways to connect within the ministry.
- In my marriage, I minister to women so you might be thinking it’s kind of hard for my guy to be involved, right? Well, this ministry suits us perfectly. I’m more social than he is and he’s the one behind the scenes helping me with some theology, or helping me counsel a woman in regards to her husband (since he’s a man), or he’ll help with some technical aspects since the ministry I do is on-line. I ask for his help, his input, his thoughts, his leadership and because of these things, he feels needed. The result: we serve the Lord together.
- Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Ministering with your spouse will bond you in an emotional, mental and spiritual way. That spiritual way is where the awesomeness comes from, friend!
What are some areas of ministry that you and your spouse serve the Lord in? I’d love to hear your answers. Who knows, maybe what you’re doing will spark some interest in the other readers here. Share in the comments.