the shape of leadership

Two Key Components to a Strong Marriage in Ministry

How your relationship with your spouse can make you a better leader

Chris Railey on June 23, 2017


Healthy leaders have healthy relationships. And those need to start at home. If you are married with children, God has given you a first priority to those you oversee under your roof. But having a healthy relationship with your spouse and children is not all about keeping the peace, staying faithful and meeting their needs. Your healthy relationship at home will spill over into every facet of your life, especially how you lead in ministry.

A strong marriage is an indicator of a sound spiritual life. The Bible provides several lists of qualities to look for in a spiritual leader (Titus 1:5–9; 1 Timothy 3:1–7; 1 Peter 5:1–4), and at the top of the list is having a healthy home life. But we should never view the health of our marriage simply through the lens of whether we are qualified to serve. If you are only devoted to your spouse so that you can check off that item on the list, then you’re missing out on so much more.

A strong marriage is also an indicator of a strong leader. The person who can lead a household well can lead others well. Any time you put two human beings together, there is bound to be tension along the way. If you are leading your household well, then you’re exercising principles that make your relationships better. And that’s what any great leader needs.

Strong leaders are present with their families.

Here are two components of a strong marriage that will produce qualities of great leadership in your life. Think about how you are taking care of these things under your roof. And then pray that God can translate that into better leadership in your ministry.


Set Goals Together

My wife and I always set aside time at the beginning of the year to look at our goals. Now, you should know that I have my own individual goals, and so does she. But when we get together, we align our goals in a way that makes our family better, our marriage stronger and our spiritual life more fulfilling. So that time to set goals together is vital. We clear our calendar, get away from the kids for a while, get into a relaxing environment and then dream big.

Setting goals is all about seeing an endpoint and visualizing how you want to be better when you reach it. In a marriage, you can’t do that alone. If any personal goal of yours doesn’t take into account your relationship with your spouse, then you need to reprioritize that goal.

One area that my wife and I always set a goal for is giving. We take a look back at the previous year, how much we made and how much we gave. We talk about how our money impacted the kingdom of God in incredible ways. We pore over the stories from the ministries we support. And then we set a target for how we can increase our giving for the coming year. Not only does it set us on the right path financially, it’s a moment for us to be grateful for God’s provision and celebrate the good news of His church.

Another area that is important is your time management. First, how did you do last year? How much of your time did you spend away from home needlessly? Did you feel like you could have done better with your daily routine or weekly calendar? Find new ways to invest time in your family. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending more time at home. It may mean taking the family with you on the road when responsibilities take you out of town.


Make Decisions Together

The average person makes 3,500 decisions every day. Most of those are automatic. Many others are simple, individual decisions, like what to wear, what to have for lunch or whether to turn left or right on the way to work. But other decisions are powerful and should not be made lightly.

In a strong marriage, both parties have a say in important decisions. I’m not saying it’s wrong for one person to lead, but it may also be wise for one spouse to have the final say in big decisions. When you make decisions together, you both have more power.

Take parenting, for instance. Many men are comfortable taking a back seat and allowing their wives to make any and all decisions about the kids. But one reason your spouse wants you involved in parenting decisions is simply that your spouse wants you present. Strong leaders are present with their families. When they’re at the house, they can give full attention to what is happening around them. And when they’re away from the house, they’re still active in what’s going on, asking questions and lending advice.

Another area of decision making is in your ministry. As a church leader, you’ll always seek advice from staff members, board members and even business leaders whenever you need to make a big decision. Don’t forget to include your spouse in that circle of influence. Not only does your spouse know you best and know how you will respond after arriving at a decision, but he or she also has insights into ministry that are different than yours. Plus, in any strong marriage, your spouse will have a vested interest in your ministry decisions.

Setting goals together and making decisions together are two powerful components of any strong marriage. And they will help you become a better leader, too. But all of this presupposes that you are praying for and with your spouse. No amount of counseling, reading, self-help or peer advice can match the power of a praying spouse. Praying together makes setting goals and making decisions together that much easier. But it also sets your hearts on what is most important: your relationship with the Father above.

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