Last week Kaye and I celebrated 22 years of marriage. Over dinner we talked about the journey the Lord has taken us on together, what we enjoy about each other, and how our marriage has made each of us better. Though our marriage is not perfect, it is healthy and I am so grateful for Kaye and the time we have been given to enjoy each other and serve alongside one another. I don’t want to only be a “great Christian” or a “great pastor,” but I long to be a “great husband.”
In her book, Good Christians, Good Husbands?, Doreen Moore gives the reader insight into the ministries and marriages of three famous theologians and pastors who ministered during the eighteenth century: John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards. In the book we learn, not surprisingly, that having an effective ministry does not always mean having a healthy marriage. John Wesley was cold to his wife, traveled extensively without seeing her much, and even missed her funeral. George Whitefield’s marriage reads like an agreed partnership of ministry and not a relationship filled with any sense of passion or depth of connection. Of the three marriages, Edward’s is the one the reader would surely want to emulate. Jonathan Edwards saw “no dichotomy between the work of the Lord and his family.” He was committed to his marriage just as he was committed to his ministry. He did not view them separately. He owned the privilege and responsibility to minister to his wife and children. Liked Jonathan Edwards, we must not view marriage merely as a means, as a tool, for a healthy ministry but as part of our ministry.
While history tells us that it is possible to have an effective ministry without a healthy marriage, it is not what the Lord desires for us. And not what the Lord desires for those who are impacted by our lives. Here are three reasons why your marriage is your most important ministry.
1. Because your marriage is a picture of the gospel
A healthy marriage gives the world a beautiful picture of the gospel. Just as God unites a man and a woman together and makes them one, Christ unites us to Himself. We are one with Him and receive all His righteousness. He pursues us, loves us eternally, constantly forgives us, and continually cares for us. When we are committed to our spouses, people are reminded of God’s commitment to us.
2. Because your marriage is the greatest gift you can give your kids
More important than giving your kids a healthy church is giving them a healthy marriage. I am so thankful we are able to give my kids a healthy church, a church they love, but much more important is giving them a healthy marriage. A healthy marriage gives them security and offers them a picture of the gospel.
3. Because your marriage is sanctifying
To not prioritize your marriage is to not prioritize your sanctification because God uses marriage to form us more into His image. I know this personally as God has used Kaye to grow me in compassion towards others, and to help me see how others process and think, and to regularly remind me that the Christian life is a life of joy.
The most important ministry you will do this week is in your own home.