One beautiful summer evening, my family and I went to visit some friends to have dinner and swim together. This family had just moved into their new home and my friend was telling me that during the waiting period of buying the house, it was imperative for her not to begin "mentally and emotionally living in the house" until they knew it was theirs for certain.
"We need to be falling in love with our spouse, not a house," she said without hesitation. Wow, what a powerful statement! In our society today, where so many marriages are both struggling and dissolving all around us, this is such a beautiful and necessary reminder for those of us who are married. As ministers in our churches and communities, we know our marriages and families are "on display" and people are curiously watching us, making it a prime opportunity to show Christ's love by loving our SPOUSE and family in an authentic, grace-filled and forgiving way on a daily basis.
Because ministry can sometimes take its toll on a marriage and family, we must make sure we are putting our SPOUSE first, safe-guarding our marriages and continually cultivating this love. We all love our husbands, I have no doubt. If we are not careful and on guard, though, it is very possible that our HOUSE and those in it could begin to take priority over our SPOUSE. Yes, our HOUSE most definitely ought to be a safe haven, a refuge, and a place of rest, joy and peace for our husband and family in the ministry. It takes time and energy to maintain the HOUSE and make sure it continually is that place for all of us. But, if we find ourselves putting more attention and time into making sure our HOUSE is running smoothly and everyone is looking pretty, then by default, there is not as much time and energy for loving our SPOUSE. Our priorities are then out of order.
To go further, what about our church HOUSE? Again, if we are not mindful and on guard, there is also a real possibility of letting our church HOUSE take priority over our SPOUSE as well. We grace those church doors so often that we can easily begin to let "church" and those in it take over our spiritual, emotional and physical energies, leaving our "left-overs" for our SPOUSE.
With all this in mind, we need to ask ourselves two questions: today, have I put my SPOUSE first? And second, have I told him how much I love him today? Let's remember this: we have been given such a treasure and gift in our SPOUSE! What a blessing these godly men are straight from the Lord to us! Daily, we ought to be lavishly and freely giving our love, affirmation, respect and constant prayers to our minister SPOUSE as he serves the Lord in all the ways God has called him!
Rod Stewart's "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?" became "our song" in the early days when Ryan and I courted and married. It's a beautiful, romantic ballad that he would sing to me many times. Some of the lyrics say:
"Have I told you lately that I love you?
Have I told you there's no one else above you?
Fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness,
Ease my troubles that's what you do.
There's a love that's divine
And it's yours and it's mine, like the sun
And at the end of the day
We should give thanks and pray
To the One, to the One"
Stewart's song, while secular, was originally written as a prayer. It sweetly reminds us to regularly tell our SPOUSE how much we love him. God has given us the immense privilege and responsibility as ministers' wives to be our husband's helpmate, and we are the chosen ones to stand beside him, love, him, encourage him and pray for him daily in all aspects of his life.
Our marriages can be examples and testimonies of God's grace, forgiveness, love, and faithfulness to those around us. With God at our center and His life-giving Word consistently in our minds and hearts, our love for our SPOUSE will continue to grow stronger as the years go by, even while often messy and imperfect. And, if we seek daily to love our SPOUSE and make him our priority, the rest of our HOUSE will then flourish and grow in love and grace too!
Joanna Jespersen is the wife of Ryan Jespersen, Director of Urban Missions at Texas Baptists, and momma to two princesses, Rachel Beth (4) and Mary Kate (2). Being a pastor's wife in Dallas taught her a lot about the unique challenges and blessings of ministering in an urban setting. She has a heart for teaching and counseling, and enjoys crafting, thrifting and traveling with her family. She writes "love letters" to her little girls and really treasures the time she currently has being a stay-at-home-mom.