Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A New Look at the Role of Your Spouse in Ministry

Face it, the thing that makes us want to quit the ministry more often than anything is our spouse's struggle with their role in it. A fascinating and engaging article in The Wall Street Journal caught my eye and my imagination yesterday. In fact, I read the entire article to my carpool pal and LifeWay colleague, Chris Ediger.

The article, titled "Our Better Halves Sometimes Expose Our Worst Side," basically says that we should not seek business or career advice from our spouses. The article's author, Jared Stanberg, maintains that the love and support we receive from our family is invaluable for our well-being and our ability to do our work and advance in our career. However, because our spouse knows very little about what actually goes on at work or in our work world, they often provide faulty, short-sighted, and potentially disastrous advice. He calls them "badvisors" and recommends getting workplace advice from elsewhere.

Mr. Stanberg quotes David Maister in the book he co-authored called The Trusted Advisor:

"advise should be helpful reasoning, not conclusions that can be tainted by bias - "a negative bias or a positive bias, which gets in the way just as much."

This immediately made me think about pastors or other ministry leaders and their spouses. I began to think about some basic principles for how a minister and their ministry spouse should deal with this. I don't think there are universal principles for this.

I do think it's vital that a husband and wife be aware of this potentially damaging dynamic. The best thing they could do is to sit down and talk about it. Ask the difficult questions and take responsibility for complaining too much and for offering to much advice.

I remember my wife catching herself one time when she wanted to tell me what do in a specific situation. She said, "I need to be careful so that I don't try to be your Holy Spirit." That was a good catch. I need to be careful about asking my wife to fill that role that only God can.

1 comment:

cediger said...

I'm not sure what I think about your post. I need to check with my wife first. :-)