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.