Kingdom Marriage on the Mission Field
By Rodney and Kathy Tolleson
Let’s be honest, marriage can be tough at times and so can the mission field. So, marriage on the field can be even more difficult. Over the past number of years, Rodney and I have seen that for some it means giving up the mission field, or for others it means living on the field simply as ministry partners. By ministry partners we mean that for the sake of the ministry they stay together, but do not have a fulfilling marriage relationship. We don’t believe God ever intended for either of those situations. In this article, we want to talk about some ways to fortify your marriage.
First, we need a revelation of our marriage as a ministry. Ephesians 5:32-33 says, “This is a huge mystery and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.” (The Message Bible). When we say that marriage is a ministry in and of itself, we mean that our marriage should be an example, a living picture, to others of the relationship between Christ and His Church. This wasn’t just a suggestion. This was God’s plan and His will for our marriages.
You may be saying right now, “Well, you don’t know my husband or wife.” No, but we know ourselves when we were first married. We had major personality differences. I (Kathy) had anger problems, Rodney had major passivity problems, and we were both strong and independent in our own ways. Yet, today we are closer than ever before to looking like Christ and His Church.
Second, we need to own our personal issues and our wounding, and get to work with Jesus. Stop blaming your spouse when you act out. Use the RTF tools you’ve learned and apply them on a regular basis. We have gone through twenty-four years of Soul/Spirit Hurts and Ungodly Beliefs. Before we had even heard of Restoring the Foundations, the Lord had already started showing us the wounding that was creating some of our triggered responses. Taking personal responsibility will change the dynamics, interactions and the communication that takes place in your marriage.
Third, create a vision statement for your marriage. Without vision, the Bible says people perish. Marriage is comprised of people and so are our businesses and ministry. Many times, we have created vision statements for other parts of our lives, but not for our marriage and family. Our marriage vision statement (included in our Kingdom Marriage book) has required us to make commitments, choices and decisions that without it, we might not have made. It is like the white lines on the edge of the road. If you stay between them, you won’t end up in the ditch. Your marriage may feel like it’s in the ditch. Get the tow truck of vision and pull it out and then keep it between the lines.
Fourth, investment is a major key. In anything, investment creates a return. Marriages need investment of time, resources, money and priority. I can demand my car to work and give me a return, but if I haven’t invested, gas, oil, water and some new sparkplugs, it won’t even turn over. Investment must be intentional. It can’t just happen along the way. Many times, we have found couples pouring everything into their ministries, because it’s a way to avoid the issues in their marriage and still feel good about themselves. It will only last for a season, which leads us to number five.
The fifth thing that’s required to fortify your marriage is to stop avoiding. Stop avoiding each other, the real issues, past hurts and the true condition of your marriage. Take an evaluation of how your marriage is doing in communication, parenting, the financial arena, spiritually, related to the ministry, sexually and in the arena of rest, fun and play. Be honest with each other, and then discuss what you would each need to see in those areas to improve. Do it without defense and justification. If you have a healthy business, you must sit down and evaluate: What worked last quarter and what didn’t? What department needs revamping? What can each person do to help with the changes, etc? This is normal and healthy in a business – why not in your marriage?
And finally ask the Holy Spirit to help you. After all, He is called your Helper. Then, be aware of the people, resources, revelation and conviction that He brings you. After your relationship with the Lord, your marriage should be your next priority. Ministry never functions properly on a foundation of an unhealthy, dysfunctional and shaky marriage. We can’t tell you how many business people and ministers we have consulted with or ministered to, who either lost their marriages and families in pursuit of business or ministry, or who were miserable because of an unhappy marriage. When you’ve lost what is near and dear to you, no business or ministry can fill that hole. When you are unhappy in your marriage, no amount of success can make up for the emptiness of your personal life.
We pray that this new year will find you victorious in your marriage and on the field. A victorious perspective says that we are better this year than last. We are being proactive and taking the fight to the enemy. Victory and perfection are two different things. Learn to celebrate your small victories. The Bible tells us many times “pursue.” Be in pursuit of a Kingdom Marriage this new year. It will change you, your family and your ministry.