A bold new topic
– Last week there was a phrase in the newsletter that touched a resonant nerve, ” Mrs. Christian is not too keen on change right now, but that’s because she takes care of the bills.” Others wrote back from a similar experience:
Mrs. Queen is a little concerned to say the least.
I wish you would speak to this in an upcoming letter. I recognize that one God-given role for the wife in a marriage is to be the voice of conscience, but on this subject I only hear “my” Mrs. Christian speaking from fear.
I don’t consider myself a marriage counselor. I’ll probably convince you of that before you finish reading this article. However, as an average husband I’m married to an above average wife that has always encouraged my dreams. She prayed for a “Joshua” before we met and she seemed willing to echo his need for support to “be strong and of good courage.” Although not careless, I am bold with new opportunities the Lord brings. My initiatives have been somewhere between surprising and shocking from Sue’s standpoint. After 30+ years of marriage, our trust in one another and God has grown and I, especially, am grateful to God to be blessed with such a wonderful partner. She makes it possible for me to be a Joshua and do exploits. I also keep track of my mistakes in dollars. I’m up to several hundred thousand and Sue still loves me.
The following are some of the reasons behind the differences we run into trying to make decision and respond to change as couples. They originate in the same theology issues we touched in Releasing Kings. I think you’ll find them helpful.
Servant / obedience Identity
– Christians often believe in a servant/obedience model for making decisions instead of a viewing themselves as friends, Kings and Priests that rule and reign with Jesus. The former results in early growth but stagnates before real spiritual maturity because the servant/obedience model does not completely represent the true nature of God or man. Obedient servants are naturally programmed to avoid initiative and tend to spiritually stagnate as they age because their hearts are not captivated by the adventure of building the Kingdom. They just do what they are told (by God or their spiritual leader). Quite often they don’t hear anything and get stuck in the status quo and simply keep doing what they’ve always done. Now imagine one spouse is a King and engages his or her heart’s desire and the other is still a servant very content with leeks and onions. The result is tension that has to be worked through.
– If the husband holds the servant / obedience model of relating to the Lord, how do you think he will translate “headship” in marriage? Answer – Husband King; Wife servant! Been there and done that.
I’m thinking of getting a bumper sticker for Sue’s car that says, “I survived 4 kids and spiritual headship.”
Don’t be Surprised
– Although Jesus is the prince of peace he is also the King of Kings. We should not be taken by surprise if a new direction causes a little heartburn before we get it all sorted out.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt 10:34-39
The common scenario is when one spouse has a dream that unites their ministry and vocation in the marketplace. Financial increase should be part of the equation but that doesn’t eliminate the risk and it does impact the status quo. So… one spouse is agitating for change and the other likes the comfort of the present. The combined family fortunes and future are promised multiplication and, at the same time, threatened with disaster. Couples have to sort through the differences in what they are hearing from God in a way that respects the gifts and callings in each other. That often results in carving out some space for uniqueness; not converting the spouse “in the wrong.” The secret is the other guy is not wrong – just different and created by God to be that way. We are not called to balance one another, but to compliment one another. We are not the other guy’s Holy Spirit or conscience.
– is often falsely understood to mean, “We’re supposed to think the same, have identical views, and share responsibilities and decisions equally.” Unity is really respecting uniqueness not requiring conformity. Harmony is when two very different pieces of the puzzle discover how they fit together… different personalities working different ways on different things that support the same general objective. Some couples do work very closely in their vocation or ministry. It’s an exception however, because most of us are drawn romantically to people that are strong in our weak areas (e.g. a lot different; exact opposites in fact). The greatest personal successes are nearly always the story of one spouse who had a dream and the other that had the wisdom to support it and share it but didn’t originate it or have the same level of passion for it.
Charismatic guidance (God told me… to tell you)
– We see and know in part (1Cor 13:9). If we think we prophetically know what, we’re often missing when and how. We have to use wisdom to execute a plan that God intentionally left incomplete because he values our initiative, creativity and free will. He gives us the direction and walks with us while we fill in the blanks. God leaves room in our lives so that he can be surprised and blessed by our creation. That’s His version of a mature relationship. He has the big picture and we’re delegated a piece of the action in terms of responsibility, authority and power. Whether it’s his power or our power is nearly a chicken and egg debate
To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Col 1:29
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Eph 3:20 NIV
Risk Free decisions
– Christians are also prone to avoid risk (subset of avoiding initiative). This one is similarly rooted in a belief that God would never take us through a trial, difficulty, or failure if he really controls everything. All faith initiatives involve trusting God through risky situations based of our ability to hear his voice. 100 fold fruit means exposure to risk and occasional failure and lots of conversations with God.
– In our book and in every newsletter we highlight every possible reason we can think of to be Kingly – entrepreneurial, creative, bold, blessed, influential, and missions-minded. However, God is not requiring everyone to take these steps; He’s inviting many and many are responding. In targeting the “many” sometimes the few that don’t hear the voice of God’s personal invitation feel condemned. I think everyone eventually gets the invitation, but the timing is different and some say “yes” and others say “no”. You can’t really be God’s friend or have a kingly mentality that originates from guilt or compulsion. We really do have to feel “invited” into a great adventure that thrills our hearts. The invitation is not a rule (a sin if you don’t do it). It’s an extension of your personal relationship with Jesus. Said another way we have to feel “permission” from God to pursue the desires of our heart. He’s not cornering us to make us obey him. He’s encouraging us to choose abundant life.
Give your spouse room to make the decision on their own – bate them with blessing, but don’t threaten them with judgment or belittle their time table. Spend your energy being a King (entrepreneurial, creative, bold, blessed, influential, and missions-minded) instead of trying to convert your spouse.
Providential Decision making
– Some Christians view sovereignty as “God controls all” instead of “God is powerful enough to intervene when he wants to.” The former typically depends too much on favorable circumstances to shape their decisions. If circumstances don’t line up they assume God has abandoned them; often over a presumed transgression (condemnation). They are prone to weaken in warfare because they misinterpret adversity as God’s discipline instead of the devil’s resistance. What if your plan to be a King and engage your heart’s desire encounters resistance? I guarantee it will to some degree. Job’s spouse gave him memorable counsel during the midst of his trial, “curse God and die.” Now that would be encouraging! And, it came before his 3 friends got rolling with all the condemnation. What a guy – imperfect, but able to trust God and eventually hear Him again. Listen to the result (His wife apparently gets restored too).
After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before… The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters… Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters… Job 42:10-15
– So what are we saying? Don’t use marital conflict as a reason to avoid your heart’s desire – you’ll just get bitter. Solve the problems and pursue your heart right into the heart of God’s will for your life. Saying it’s “the woman (or husband) you gave me” won’t work for you any more than it did for Adam. This is the most intimate part of your relationship with Jesus. No one else can find it for you; or keep you from it. There is a path through this forest that will bless your marriage – certainly not a canned recipe though.
Be the Visionary
– When we labor toward a vision we experience delays and setbacks and all kinds of challenges. I have to hold the dream close and imagine how sweet it will be to inherit the blessing of God. And for Sue, I have to sit down with her and dream out loud about what it will be like and why it’s worth the risk and the energy. I have to help her find her place in the dream too. Occasionally the table is turned and I try to encourage her to be the Joshua and step in territory of her own. It’s a blessed process and as I write this I realize more than ever how much I love her and how much I appreciate her… how empty the dream would be without her.
And when victories come, we dance in the kitchen – hopping up and down like a couple of birds; thrilled that God has made us part of His plan to release Kings.
Life is an adventure. People are a blessing. God is amazing. We’re winning.