The work of the ministry is tough, and the work of revitalization is even tougher. The ministry is not for the faint of heart, and requires inner strength, personal diligence, and godly character. Perhaps this is why God created teams called marriage. Revitalization of churches takes vision and hope that God is faithful, even when people are unfaithful. Let’s be real, if the body of Christ were consistently faithful in their churches, evangelizing, discipling, and growing in their faith personally, there would be no need for “revitalization;” for all of our churches would be moving forward, not declining.
Unlike the pastor who takes on an existing healthy, growing church, which is hard enough, the revitalization pastor takes on the enormous task of spiritually motivating a group of people who have become stagnant in their faith. In that type of setting, the only positive support a leader may have is that of his spouse.
The pastor and his wife, when working together, become a powerfully bold force to be reckoned with by the congregation. When both partners are utilizing the gifts given them by the Holy Spirit, there is nothing they cannot overcome. Unfortunately, many a wife sees the work of pastoring, or church revitalization as her “husband’s job” and she is simply there to “support her man.” At face value, this sounds good and may even look good to many from the outside. However, over time, it gets old, tired, and worn out (the concept and the wife!). When a woman sees a man struggling and does not understand the underlying dynamics of the situation, she can become very critical, especially if she begins to compare her church to the church down the road that is not struggling. Doubts can quickly creep in and cause division in the marriage and in the ministry.
Why are others succeeding and we are not? Why is God taking so long to bless our efforts? Is there something wrong with my husband’s leadership? Perhaps he is not spiritual enough? Are we cut out for this type of ministry? Perhaps we should look for greener pastures elsewhere. I want out of this dead church!
It has been said that behind every great man, is a great woman. There is no denying this statement; the only part that is inaccurate is the word “behind.” A more accurate term would be “beside”. The role of the pastor’s wife is not less than or equal to her husband, it is simply different, according to the gifts God has given her. An emboldened team is one in which both husband and wife feel called to the ministry. It is one in which the wife respects her husband’s gifts and ministry within the church and the husband respects and understands his wife’s ministry as well. The Bible lists out many a great team: Ruth and Boaz, Deborah and Lappidoth, Huldah and Shallum, Anna and her husband, Joseph and Mary, Aquilla and Priscilla, Peter and his wife, just to name a few, all ministered together for the promotion of God’s Kingdom.
Each of these women knew their calling, every bit as much as their husbands, and fulfilled their calling along side of their husbands. Some were prophets, judges, pastor’s wives, and the mother of Jesus; God used all in a mighty way, much the same as their husbands, and some in greater ways than their husbands. The point being that to fulfill the will of God in your ministry, husbands and wives must be working together with each other, not against one another.
Solomon, in response to his own observation that a hard working man questions his work at the end of his life when he has not one to share it with, (Ecclesiastes 4:8), makes this statement:
“Two are better than one; because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
This statement depicts the strength of a husband and wife team who love and respect each other and work together as a team. In the same way Proverbs 27:17 reminds us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Wives and husbands are to challenge each other spiritually, and hold each other accountable to the task at hand. If one begins to falter, the other is there to encourage and help the other press on to completion. Too many pastors are falling today in sin and divorce because they have either shut their wives out of their ministry or their wives abdicated their responsibility within the ministry, and left everything up to her husband.
I will never forget a school that Rob and I both worked for at the same time while we were church planting in California. There was a matter that arose in which both Rob and I agreed needed to be addressed in the school. The superintendent stated that he would meet with Rob alone or myself alone, but that he did not want to meet with both of us together as we were too much of a match for anyone together. In every church we have ministered in, the members have always recognized that they were calling a team, not simply a single man to oversee the church. We are often complemented on how well we off set each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and members appreciate the work we both perform within the body of Christ. Once they get to know us, they cannot imagine one without the other. All they see is a team, for we are “one flesh.”
When I teach Master’s level seminary classes in Haiti, and especially when Rob and I have the privilege of teaching together, many of the men there tell me how they “wish” their wives were more like me and working by their side in the ministry. My response to them is all they have to do is include their wives, respect their giftedness, value their input and work as a team, and they will have just that- a force that must be reckoned with.
When husbands and wives work together as a true team in the ministry great things happen. Teams promote encouragement in following vision, growth in mutual respect and in listening to new ideas, support in times of frustration and temptation, and strength to complete the task. There is no greater support that a man or woman can experience than that given spiritually when working side by side with one’s spouse. The world can be against you, but when you know you have the love and support of your spouse and God, nothing can stand in your way. This is the way of boldness in any endeavor in life.
Estelle Myers is the wife of Rob Myers and they are the lead Miami Baptist Church as it continues to be revitalized. Estelle has a weekly radio show in South Florida as well..