Many married Christians have unintentionally let their sexual intimacy suffer, all because they were busy doing ministry.
Kevin Bullard of Marriage Works! is sharing today as part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.
I so appreciate Kevin and his wife Cetelia, and the great wisdom Kevin offers in this post.
If you are in ministry as a pastor, teacher, elder, deacon, worship leader, administrator or any other position that requires significant time, you need to read this blog to ensure ministry doesn’t destroy sex in your marriage.
Although it may seem weird, the truth is that out-of-control ministry can destroy sex in your marriage, because true sexual intimacy is built on genuine intimacy — not just physical actions.
That said, heed the following 3 strategies to ensure you’re building intimacy in your marriage so you’re not destroying sex:
Strategy 1: Beware the Sprinkler effect
As leaders we’re ready to serve and reach the world. What happens all too often, however, is the sprinkler effect.
Have you ever noticed that the grass closest to the sprinkler is always dry? It’s because the water always shoots to the far edges of the yard while missing the grass closest to it. This can happen in marriage if we’re not careful.
Everyone else will get fed while our spouse is malnourished (and perhaps becoming bitter).
I’ve seen this happen too many times, and it’s unfortunate. Understand there’s nothing wrong with serving the Lord. You just need to ensure you’re ALSO serving the one you entered into holy covenant with.
Strategy 2: Save the Preaching for the Pulpit
To the spouse who preaches at church and at home, let me tell you that you’re not alone. I’ve done it to my wife Cetelia more than once, and I’ve seen how damaging it is.
I’ll always remember one occasion before marriage when I preached a pretty lengthy sermon on the virtues of money management. It sounded and felt good to me, until I realized that I had demoralized Cetelia, and made her feel like a little kid. Ouch!
I’d like to say that I have not given her some sermons (another name for a lecture) since then, but that would not be genuine. The only way I know to keep from preaching to her (and my kids for that matter) is to first of all LISTEN without offering a solution.
It’s not easy, but it’s doable. When Cetelia wants to share heart, she wants my ears, not my mouth, which requires empathy.
Strategy 3: Spend Time Together
Perhaps this should have been number one (or perhaps this is a good spot for it, now that your mind is being stirred up).
The simple fact is this: If you don’t spend time with your spouse, you’re going to grow apart. We get distracted by ministry responsibilities and opportunities, and lose sight of the one we committed to spending our forever with.
Get this: If all your time is spent going to church, and you’re not spending time with your spouse outside of church, the two of you are going to move further and further apart until you either become roommates who occasionally have sex or yet another couple who can’t find a reason to stay together.
I’ve been zinged for making that assertion, but I stand by it.
Couples must spend time together outside of church where they can focus on one another, rather than the business of the church.
Strategy 4: Ensure Your Church Respects You as a Leader and a Spouse
If given the opportunity, people at church will drain you dry, then leave your carcass lying at the altar for Jesus to resurrect.
While folks don’t mean to be parasites, sometimes they are. They will call on you day and night until you’re stretched thinly, worn out, and have no more energy to give to your spouse (and family).
The answer is to guard feverishly against this by setting boundaries for your time and availability. This is easier said than done, I know.
As ministry leaders, we have this incorrect attitude that says, “If I don’t, it won’t.” Viz., if I don’t do this, it won’t get done. This is a double booby trap, and here’s why:
(1) We can become full of ourselves thinking that we’re God’s gift to the world, and
(2) We handicap everyone around us and stymie them from becoming leaders in their own right, because we’re doing everything (been there, done that).
When we ensure that people respect us as leaders and as spouses, we send an important message that says, “I am your leader, yes, but I am also my mate’s spouse.”
From my experience, we must teach people this principle because they do not intuitively get it. The best ways to successfully teach this is to continually say it then live it.
Blending marriage and ministry is NOT easy. There is a lot of pressure from both sides to do everything well and without error.
First, free yourself from that unfair and unrealistic expectation.
Second, know that when you build intimacy in your marriage, you set yourself up to have a loving and successful sex life.
Make ministry a part of your life and marriage, not the master of your life and marriage.
Kevin and Cetelia Bullard encourage marriages through their Marriage Works! blog and their countless marriage resources. They are true champions of marriage, hosting conferences, mentoring other couples, and speaking hope and biblical encouragement into broken places.
They live in Texas with their children.
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Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.
4 thoughts on “Is Ministry Destroying Sex in Your Marriage?”
Yes, the above post is a true reflexion in our society. Some Men of GOD, they have neglected their responsibilities to their wives as husbands, as a result, their wives suffer loneliness and some are dying inside.
If only they should heed the above strategies especially strategy number 3, by taking time off from time to time and spend quality time together. I strongly believe this will improve their marriage relationship. The above post is timely.
This could be expanded to include all forms of work, paid and unpaid. The issue here is “workaholism” – the expansion of one’s commitment to a work to the point where it becomes almost all-consuming to the exclusion and cost of everything else that is important in one’s life – especially one’s marriage and family.
It is tricky, because both paid work and unpaid charitable work are important. We need to earn a living, and we need to do something more than just the bare minimum with our lives. So you can’t just say “don’t work”. The trick is to find a balance, making work a mere part of one’s life rather than the whole of one’s life. Just as a key to physical health is “eat to live” rather than “live to eat”, so is a key to our emotional, spiritual, relational, and – yes – even physical health is to “work to live” rather than “live to work”.
We need to start with the attitude that our work does not define our identity; I am not what I do. Instead, our identity goes into what we do and how we do it. Because I am a Christian with marital responsibilities, I do the work that God has given me with the abilities and talents that He has given me, and this enables me to earn the money that He knows we really need. I don’t do more than what is actually necessary for this work, for I know that life is more than work and there are other priorities that God has also placed before me.
This raises the issue of ambition, and this really needs to be looked at with a critical eye. Considering the teaching of Jesus in Matt. 6 to “be ye not anxious” about food, clothing, etc., but to “seek first the Kingdom of God”, what does that say about our ambitions? Shouldn’t we be cultivating contentment with what God provides rather than striving for more, more, more? Of course, it could be said that ambitions that are motivated by a desire to seek first the Kingdom of God are good ambitions. Maybe they are, but this brings us back around to Julie’s post about ministry. Even if one desires to seek first the Kingdom of God through ministry work (paid or unpaid), and even if this is good, are we not also called to seek first the Kingdom of God in all areas of our lives – especially including in our marriage and family life? Even people who are in some sort of ministry work still need to strive to maintain some sort of balance in their lives.
If u hav read any of these kinds of blogs for any amount of time it registers that intimacy breeds intimacy. Steps taken are steps that pay off some how. If we take those steps.
As u take those steps to draw closer to Gods will, I’d like to encourage u because sometimes the process is too hard, or too long. We lose heart. Allow me a moment, God has settled my heart. A heart of calm I pray to keep. A heart of hope…in Jesus.
Many times we hear about the Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Many have speculated on what that thorn is. It’s safe to stop wondering what the thorn is. The thorn isn’t the point that God, or Paul, is making. Paul has a thorn, u hav one, I have one, we all do. Thorns are different. The struggle is the same. Paul’s struggle is universal to all of us. Whether, it’s Paul’s own sin, or someone else’s. His own mind or another’s he is dealing with. It’s a struggle.
The struggle to obey, to feel, to rest, or find answers from God amidst the struggle. “God take it away!” we cry. But God has a reason for us to go thru the struggle. Maybe He wont take it away just yet.
Paul’s thorn wasn’t important enough for God to identify. But, grace being the answer to our struggle is. When we struggle we lose perspective. We question, “why me?” We point fingers. We lose faith. We doubt salvation. We isolate. We think ourselves more important. We draw lines…
Satan wants nothing more than to escalate the sin factor in ur life. How can God love me if im going thru this? God wants us to know He is loving u in it. His grace is sufficient for u! That means this is happening for ur good. The cure is not more sex, books, or me time. The bigger picture is u in Jesus. Learning to rely on Him. It was Gods answer to Paul and it Gods answer to u. Ur struggle is given grace. Time to learn about Jesus. Time to learn about u. There is no hate in grace. Forgiveness is there. Love is there. U are not forsaken in ur struggle no matter what brand of thorn it is. Ur not alone. Ur pain was felt on the cross. We have not found the sin that Jesus blood does not cover, and have not found a struggle that grace is not sufficient for. So take the ups & downs as Gods leading. The hurt of unforgiveness only hurts the one not forgiving. Hate never hurts the ones we hate. Hate only hurts ourself. We have something to learn in our struggle. The pain proves that.
Can I be the precious touch of Jesus in an untouchable world. Gods grace can, so u can in it. Let Gods sanctifying process get u there. Give up because only Gods process of grace can do it.
It is sad how often preachers sacrifice their familiy’s on the alter of work.
Thanks for the reminder.