I’ve noticed one common trait in couples who thrive in ministry over the long haul: the ability to see themselves as a team who shares a God-given dream. I believe this one factor can actually make or break the ministry God has called you to. Being a team sharing a dream can revitalize a marriage, a family, a local church, and ultimately the Kingdom of God.
The word team comes from the Old English and referred to a set of draft animals yoked together. A more modern definition expands on the concept by adding “a number of people who act together as a group, either in a sport or in order to achieve something.” Rick defines a team as two or more people who have common goals and also deep communications about those goals.
During seminary Rick began to dream of planting a church. It made me anxious to think about planting a church–the part about no money, no building, no members, no security or stability bothered me. Rick asked me to go with him to a church growth conference. It was at that conference that Rick’s heart for church planting began to take root in mine as I caught the vision of reaching unchurched people for Jesus Christ. Eventually, the “sharing the dream and being part of a team” strategy we started the church with began to fade a bit as life circumstances propelled us in different directions. When we had small children, I was doing my best to keep up with their needs. Their demands often prevented me from being as active in ministry as I desired. As a result, Rick and I felt emotionally distant from each other. Nothing was actively wrong, but we were like ships passing in the night, each of us busy with our individual responsibilities. I didn’t know much about what was happening in his world, and he didn’t know much about what was happening in mine. During one of our intense conversations about our mutual frustration, Rick tentatively posed a question he had read in a marriage book: Is it true that the more a woman chooses to make herself a part of her husband’s world the more he will choose to be a part of her world?
I was riveted by that question and pondered it for days. I’m not going to wade into a conversation about whose turn it was to make the first move–which of us needed to try to be a part of whose world first. That kind of me-first thinking can become a distraction and is what dooms too many relationships to disappointment and bitterness.
Many times I’ve had to choose between “me first” and “the marriage first”. Rick could easily tell you about the times he has set aside “me first” and put his energy into building our relationship. That’s the mutuality spoken of in Ephesians 5:21-33. In my less-than-holy moments, though, I’ve found myself holding out for Rick to initiate something in our relationship on my timetable and in the way I want him to do it. I’ve played that game, and no one wins. I’m learning to put my energy into what it is I ultimately want–for us to be part of each other’s world.
Ways to Move Toward Being Part of Your Spouse’s World:
- Ask: “What are the two most influential books you’ve read in the last six months?”
- Ask: “Is there a sermon, podcast, or article that really touched your heart recently?”
- Ask: “I’d really like to hear, what are your dreams and hopes for the church in the next six months?”
- Attend or watch the same conferences together.
You and your spouse are each other’s most valuable resource for ministry–more than education and training, more than abilities, more than spiritual gifts, more than anything. You need each other! You are truly better together as a team sharing a dream!
Warren’s, thank God for you both answering your call and touching Soo many lives for Jesus. You have undoubtedly handled the gifts God gave you. God bless and keep you and you family always.
Mr. Brian James Schanmier
Christ Church, Chicago IL.
Kay, wonderful words of kind wisdom.
Hope hopefully we can impliment some of this, after (32) years marriage we . Might have teamed up a bit.
Thank you so much for the encouragement you & Rick give to others.
My husband (a pastor) & I have served the Lord in ministry for almost 40 yrs., 30 of which were in the NW. We have been a team… until moving to CA 4 yrs ago. I never had to work prior to living here. The high cost of living demands that we have 2 incomes.
It has been our passion to start new churches. The one we took here in Cali was down to 23 people and had ran 500 back in the day. We are grateful to see that God is resurrecting it to life again!!!
Needless to say, I have struggled greatly in the lack of not being 100% involved because of having to work. I struggle with resentment at times with not being able to share in the relationships that my husband gets to be involved with & that I’m not a part of. The Lord has certainly taught & teaching me so very much about me & the recessed of my heart during this process. One being, my job is my new ministry! I know it is a season in my life that is bringing good.
Just know this was a ‘timely’ encouragement!!
Thanks Kay for encouraging me to share my calling with my wife. Everything you wrote is very true and I fully agree with you that one cannot work alone and get far. Thank God we are serving together and sharing our church programs together. Be blessed and keep encouraging us.
Christ the King Tabernacle, Kenya
Really good message. May it bless me and others who read it… in JESUS name, amen!
Thank you for sharing your insight into building a strong team with your spouse. The me first, is something my wife and I need to work on. The questions to ask are beneficial as well.
Thank you for this encouragement. My husband is Senior Pastor at Connect Church in Tupelo, MS. He got me the book Sacred Privilege for Christmas and I absorbed every word. It was so good to read! I have gotten it to our staff wives as well and they are lapping up the awesome wisdom found in Kay’s book. Thank you for being raw and authentic for the rest of us to see.
Hi Kay, I’ve shared with Rick what God has put on my heart, but he didn’t seem to want to support it because he felt that everything I said I had to offer those that suffer with their thoughts and compulsively was attained through indulging in the word. I couldn’t agree more, although God has equipped me with things that breaks down what the Word does for those who get into His word. I’m not even going to get into it because of the feedback I’ve been getting from people. I just had the desire to share with you that I’m going to contribute to changing many lives with the tools God has entrusted me with. He knows the power they have and He knows where my heart is. It is in His care. Thanks!
I’m a young pastor and I have a beautiful girlfriend pastor (as we call also) who was also graduated Theology ahead of me. This article really enlightened and encouraged me to continue our shared moments talking about our ministry topics. Continue to be a blessing to me and to our fellow brethren in Christ worldwide. Hoping someday you and your husband will have a chance to conduct a seminar here in our place in Iloilo City, Iloilo, Philippines. I’m really blessed by your ministry. Thanks you and More Power. Looking forward to grant my request. Thank you Mrs. Warren.
from Pastor Ranie delaPeña
The Lord bless you for sharing this. Trusting God to help meet you and Pastor Rick one of these days… Grace to you..l
Awesome, thanks Kay!
Celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary today! And our 37th year in ministry together!
Russ Olmon; Wife: Susie.
Thank you so much for your encouraging article today Rick Warren and kay Warren. ☕️
Thank you for sharing Mrs.Kay Warren
It encourages me to know that these things are normal in marriages who serve together; trying to balance ministry life as a couple and family life, and even our own individuality, yet still loving and encouraging each other along the way. I believe as ministry leaders share these personal testimonies it encourages those who are serving the Kingdom not forget the plan and purpose that Christ has for us. Not to be against each other but for each other, recognizing that this is a gift for us to use to strengthen the Kingdom.