It’s been a long time since I posted anything on my blog – but let’s not go into the reasons for that. Since hearing Jani Ortlund speak on this topic at New Horizon this summer, I’ve been meaning to blog about it – and here I am at last.
I thought that Jani achieved a good balance between presenting biblical teaching and creating an ambiance which was intimate enough for participants to want to share together their experiences, privileges and challenges of being married to the minister!
She chose three headings on which to hang her talk:
1. Risking your Reputation (Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19; Colossians 3:9)
Here Jani talked about the use of the tongue – both our own tongues and other people’s tongues.
(a) As far as our own are concerned, we were challenged to guard our tongues and to strive to be truthful all of the time. Truth stabilises relationships but we live in a culture of lies. (James 3:2,8; Psalm 141:3; Proverbs 16:24.)
(b) As for other people’s tongues, what minister’s wife has not borne the brunt of criticism, gossip or lies, either about herself or about her husband? Jani encouraged us, instead of wasting emotional energy on defending ourselves or our husbands, to turn to God. (Proverbs 18:21; 17:9; I Peter 3:9.)
2. Refining your Romance
Here, Jani talked to us about two main areas:
(a) Respect your husband’s work (Ephesians 4:29; 5:33)
In her own inimitable style, Jani encouraged us to affirm and appreciate our husbands, be first in line to encourage them after a sermon and to defend them, figuring out ways to enter their castles when they withdraw.
She warned against giving them advice – they get enough of that already, often unsolicited! – and our advice can often be misinterpreted as criticism. (This led to a discussion on what is a helpful way to offer advice and here Ray, Jani’s husband, helpfully shared an example from their own marriage when he was a young minister, they had young kids at home, and he was also taking classes at seminary – Jani had to gently point out to him that he was in danger of losing his family because they just never saw him – but it was the gentle, non-intimidating spirit in which she did it which effectively spoke to him).
If we respect our husband’s work, then our children will too – but the opposite is also true. If we moan and complain when he is unavoidably late for dinner, our children will pick that up and come to see the ministry as something negative. Jani talked about using that as an opportunity to pray with her children for their Dad who had been held up due to an urgent hospital visit – and so the children learned to support their Dad and appreciate the ministry.
(b) Teach him how to love you (Proverbs 5:15-19; Song of Solomon 4:9; Malachi 2:13-15)
Jani warned that we need to use words to teach our husbands how to comfort us – if not they will never learn and we will turn to something else and our kids will never see how a man can comfort his wife.
3. Relish your Redemption (Hebrews 6:10; I Corinthians 15:58; Psalm 62:1; Psalm 36:7-9)
My commitment to my marriage means that I’m prepared to be unhappy sometimes – and find my joy in God. When ministry is difficult – as it often is – I must choose to follow Him.
Jani posed the challenging question: ‘What will your husband become because he married you?’
Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper