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Three Tips to find Balance with Ministry and Marriage

Blog: 3Tips

Noel Heikkinen

I had lunch with a Church Planter today who is being stretched way outside of his comfort level with his young church. He is discovering the inevitable: as the complexity of our church increases, so will the demands on our life. We will have to grow and change in ways that we can’t even imagine when our church begins.

For any entrepreneurial leader, it’s exciting to navigate these new waters. We read a ton, we network with other movers and shakers, and we develop systems and plans. Life is thrilling and we grow into the new position our job requires.

This very process (which is healthy for the church) can be one of the greatest pitfalls for our marriage. While we are growing by leaps and bounds, our wife is at home in a life that remains pretty constant. Sure, the kids go through different seasons of life, and sure there are fluctuations in her schedule, but life can easily remain status quo for her. Because of this, we can slowly drift apart.

It starts almost unnoticeably. Instead of asking her counsel on some issue affecting the church, we process alone or with others leaders. When a counseling issue is weighing on our mind, we don’t want to burden her. After a day of leading strongly, we just want to go home and veg. We become our wife’s roommate instead of her husband.

I can write this because this has been a struggle of mine. Luckily, my wife has called me out on this and I have gotten help from other godly men who have helped me put systems in place in my life. Here are a few practical steps that have made a huge difference for us.

1. Talk daily about “The Nothings”

You know the drill. You come home for the night and your wife asks, “So what did you do today?” “Nothing.” It’s the response we learned to say to our mom in Jr. High and we still use it with our wives. But your day wasn’t filled with “nothing,” your day was filled with something! Talk about it. I keep a list of random stuff I want to tell my wife and every night we talk through the list. She is my #1 advisor, confidant, and friend. But it’s not just about me, I ask her specific questions about her day and try to drill down for details when her day seems mundane to her. Even when I am traveling, I call home so we can talk about the “nothings” in our day. These “nothings,” by themselves, don’t seem like much. But added together, they make a life. We can’t build our lives apart from each other.

2. Lead at home like you lead in the church

My wife recently called me out on this one. She reminded me about how driven I am at work and she said it was frustrating when I didn’t lead that way at home. So I am taking steps in this direction. I am trying to build systems and set goals for the family (although I would never say that to my kids).

3. Exegete your marriage

Any good church planter must constantly exegete the culture around them. They need to figure out how to enter their city and represent for Jesus there. We need to do the same thing in our marriages. Find out what things you do that makes your wife feel loved and do them constantly. Become a missionary in your marriage; loving your wife the way Jesus loves the church.



Bryan Wiles

on Apr 7, 2010 :: 11:55 am


You are a wise man, my wife and I literally had this exact conversation last night. I shared your post with her and it was an encouragement to her to know that other super pastors like yourself struggle with leading at home in the same way they lead at church! Thanks for the insight.

Bryan (your old friend from h2o BG)