Are You Destroying Your Own Marriage?

Learn-How-to-Heal-Your-Broken-Marriage1Many men and women have sabotaged their own marriages.

Of course you may say, like many, “This will never happen to me.”

Perhaps.

Yet, there are ways that destructive seeds can be planted in one’s marriage.

1.  Whisper words of criticism and insults in your spouse’s ear.  Doing this will eventually destroy his or her confidence.  If you whisper these words, then you can save face with your friends.  After all, you know that if they were to hear what you just whispered in your partner’s ear they would think you were rude and childish.  Consequently, you can quietly tear down your spouse while pretending you are supportive before friends and family.

2.  Let your eyes wander toward another person of the opposite sex.  If you are caught gazing at another, be sure to blame your spouse.  “Well, what am I supposed to do?  It’s nice to get some attention!   Maybe if you would be a better husband (or wife), I wouldn’t find this person so attractive.”

3.  Look for every opportunity to speak a rude, barbed word toward your spouse.  You can always claim that you were just joking.  Do you know someone like this?  Perhaps this person uses every occasion to put down his wife.  If she objects, then her husband says, “I was just joking.”  The idea seems to be that if one claims to be joking, responsibility for any hurt can be denied.

Such behavior is beneath a Christ follower   After all, marriage is for grown-ups.  Furthermore, when married people are Christ followers, we follow an even higher standard.

Unfortunately, some people have spouses who refuse to grow up.  The behavior of the immature spouse is not just a nuisance.  This behavior can chip away at the marriage.

Does it make any sense to get married and then participate in the very destruction of your marriage?  I don’t think so.

I think this is worth some thought – and prayer.

 

 

Ministry Inside.140

broken-clockSome ministers abuse time.

I admire those who serve in a full-time ministry role with a church.  I did so for many years.  In fact, I deeply respect these people.

Yet this ministry is a role that can be dangerous to one’s soul and integrity.  The danger that I have in mind relates to time.

Most ministers I know work hard – very hard.  They understand that their work is a calling, not a career. Consequently, they do the work of ministry without watching the clock or thinking about overtime.

Years ago, I interviewed with a fine church.  Apparently this church had questioned the work ethic of one of its ministers.  I asked the search committee what the minister said when confronted with this problem.  They said that no one, including the elders, had ever talked with him about his behavior.

Instead they made rules to somehow control this and the other ministers’ behavior.

  • Ministers must work at least a 40-hour week.
  • Ministers may not go to the store between the hours of 8AM and 5PM.
  • Ministers may not leave the church building between the same hours unless it is for tasks related to their job descriptions.

I then asked, “Why doesn’t someone just talk with the problem minister?”

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

startnow8norWriting

Jeff Goins has written a fine post “How to Stop Sounding Stupid and Write Like a Pro.”  I read Jeff’s blog regularly and find him very helpful and inspirational.

Stewardship

Jeremy Bouma has reviewed Craig Blomberg’s book “Christians in an Age of Wealth.”  This looks to be an interesting book by this well respected New Testament scholar.

Jonah

Kevin Youngblood’s (Harding University Bible professor – Searcy) commentary on Jonah is reviewed in Koinonia.  Also included is a video clip of Youngblood.

Preaching

Don’t miss this essay by John Stackhouse (Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.) in which he challenges all of us to reflect on what we are preaching.  See “Preaching that Avoids the Scandal…and the Centre.”

Ministry Inside.139

600px-six-svg11(The following post is adapted from a chapel talk given at Harding School of Theology last week.)

Six Suggestions for Getting More Out of Your Life and Ministry

It doesn’t matter what you plan to do.  It doesn’t matter how you plan to serve.  The following are six suggestions for making the most of your life and ministry.

1. Pay attention to your spiritual formation.  Recently, in chapel at Harding School of Theology, I quoted my friend Barry, a longtime minister in Waco, Texas.  Barry once heard a seminary president say to students, “Some students begin seminary with an empty head and a full heart.  Some leave seminary with a full head and empty heart.”  I believe it is possible to leave with a full heart and full head.  However, you must be intentional in this pursuit.  Unless you are intentional, you are likely to ignore your heart.

This means paying attention to the way Christ is being formed in your life.  Start with what you are putting on and what you are putting off. (Col 3:1ff)

*Your practices.  (prayer/scripture/journaling/service)
*Your rest/restoration.  Care for the body and emotions is a godly move, not a sign of weakness.
*Your work.  Are you being shaped and formed into a Christ-like person even while you work?

2. Pay attention to your habits. What is a habit in your life that really needs to be addressed?  This is the time to give attention to habits that need to be addressed.  These habits may include the expression of your temper, the use of porn, your language and materialism.  Be willing to seek help.  Some believe that one day they will have to change this habit but not yet.
  
3. Pay attention to your relationships.  The temptation while in school is to focus your complete attention on your studies and put your marriage on hold.  However, it is important not to neglect your spouse.

Howard Hendricks said, “Your marriage can make or mar your ministry.”

Years ago, when I was in seminary, I felt behind and inadequate.  Consequently, I was relentless about studying, day and night.  Unfortunately, I also neglected my marriage as I felt compelled to spend most of my time studying.  Finally, Charlotte told me, “I know this is difficult and that you have a lot to do. However, it would help so much if I just had something to look forward to.”  I realized at that point that I had misplaced my priorities.

There are numerous examples of couples who impacted a lot of people because of their marriage. On the other hand there are plenty of preachers/elders who lost their influence because of their marriage.  Beware of neglecting your marriage while you serve in a role with your church.

4.  Pay attention to your own emotional functioning.  Charles Blair in The Man Who Could Do No Wrong tells the story of growing up in the Great Depression and having to ride his bike to the firehouse to get government issued milk.  He said it was humiliating to carry this pail and he felt as if everyone was watching him.  Apparently, some kids saw him and laughed.  He decided that one day, no one was going to laugh at him again.  His image became more important than anything else.  Perhaps you can relate.  What people think of you can become more important than who you really are.

5. Pay attention to how you handle stress and loneliness.  Stress and loneliness are natural at various times of life but can be very difficult to manage.  What do you do with stress and loneliness?  Some people eat, spend money, go out with someone they shouldn’t be with or participate in any number of unwise behaviors.   When you feel stressed and lonely, you can make some very foolish decisions.

6. Know that God loves you regardless of what you do in your ministry.  What God thinks of you is not dependent on whether or not you had a good day.  The same is true regarding your life, and your ministry.  God loves and adores you– period.  His love is unconditional.

(You can read notes from my first chapel talk, “Ministry is a Calling”, here.)

 

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start_button_gifFear

Be sure to read Jeff Goin’s post “Stop Being Afraid.” Something I need to read occasionally.

Better

Erika Andersen has written a good post entitled “7 Steps To Make Your Life Better.”  Some practical, and helpful suggestions.

Paperless

From Time magazine, “How to Go Paperless” written by Kristy Holch.

N.T. Wright

Great quote by N.T. Wright on the church.

 

Ministry Inside.138

HST1The following are the notes from the chapel presentation I gave on Tuesday morning, January 21, at Harding School of Theology (Memphis, Tennessee).  Perhaps you will find this encouraging and a good reminder. 

This is the first chapel of 2014 at Harding School of Theology.  This is the first day of classes.

No doubt as you meet with your class, there will be a syllabus.  There will be books to read.  There will be papers to write.  There will be lectures.

There is also a call.

We have a purpose and mission that is larger than ourselves.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Creativity

This is an interesting piece by Shane Parrish at Farnam Street.  See “Why creative people tend to be eccentric.”

Preaching

My friend Wade Hodges (Preston Road Church of Christ — Dallas) has written a post on preaching. Chasing The Short Sermon is worth some thought and reflection.  

Children

This post by Thom Rainer is worth reading by any minister or church leader.  See “Seven Things We Learned From Pastor’s Kids.”

Sports

Terry Mattingly has written a fascinating post in Get Religion entitled Concerning that strange, lost Sports Illustrated Tebow epic.

New Year

Alece Ronzino has written a guest post on Jeff Goins’ blog that is worth reading.  Don’t miss The New Year’s Resolution You’ve Already Broken.

 

Ministry Inside.137

(Each Thursday, I write particularly for church leaders.  If you are a church leader, hopefully this post will connect with you.  However, the post may be relevant regardless of ministry role.)

I knew a man who was a good preacher and overall minister.  He was well-read and had a good seminary education. He continued to grow in his ministry skills and in his knowledge.  Various congregations perceived him to be a valuable resource in their region.

There was one problem.

He didn’t always tell the truth.

I don’t think he perceived himself as one who lied or was untruthful.  Yet, I remember the evening, years ago, when he and his wife had dinner with us.  We ate and had an enjoyable meal together.  After dinner, we went to an ice cream place for dessert.

He told a story about a sermon that he had preached one Sunday.  As a part of the message, he used an illustration that seemed fitting.  After sharing that illustration with us, he said, “Of course this is one of those stories that you tell as if it really happened to you.”

I was a young minister and shocked by what he admitted to practicing.  Surely he did not say what I think he just said. Did he really say that he told the story as if it happened to him but it didn’t?  Yes, I had heard him correctly.

This was sad.

It was also unethical and even unnecessary.  Not only was this wrong but he could have easily used the story ethically by saying:

“I heard the story about a couple who one day . . .”

“I have a friend who tells the story about a couple who one day. . .”

“William Willimon tells the story of a couple who one day . . .”

Truth telling includes paying attention to the little things.  Accuracy and speaking truth really do matter.

 

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start (1)We have moved to Memphis.   As of January 2, I work at Harding School of Theology.  This week I resume writing this blog.  Each Monday I will post a feature entitled “Monday Start: Resources for the Week.”  This post will consist of links to articles, books, etc. that might be of interest to you.

Mental illness

Don’t miss this post by Karen Spears Zacharias.  The post “Mothers and Mental Illness” is a good reminder of what some mothers struggle with.

Free

You might be interested in “Plan Your Free Online Education at Lifehacker U: Spring Semester 2014.”

Writing

From The Chronicle of Higher Education, Michael C. Munger writes “10 Tips on How to Write Less Badly.”

Asking in faith

John T. Willis has written a brief but encouraging post entitled “Ask in Faith – James 1:5-8.”

“No”

Some people believe that one overcomes another’s objections by presenting arguments and answers.  However, the “no” one receives may be rooted in something deeper.   See Seth Godin’s post “Coming from ‘no’.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update

I guess you’ve noticed

I haven’t posted on the blog during December.  We are in the middle of the move to Memphis, Tn.  I will be working with Harding School of Theology.  In January, I will begin to post regularly again.  Thanks for your patience.