Q: My husband is not an encourager, and it’s something we struggle with in our marriage. I know my identity is in Christ, but is it okay for me to desire and ask for more encouragement? How can I help him in this?
Lauren: There was a time for me where there was a specific place I wanted encouragement from Matt. Honestly, I needed to be just okay if he wasn’t. I needed to be okay in the Lord with that and say, “Lord you fulfill that ultimately in me.” More than likely your husband is feeling that frustration from you, and it probably paralyzes him in some aspect. Probably makes him feel like, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” I’m not trying to be insensitive. I’ve been here. Matt’s a very encouraging person, but he wasn’t encouraging me where I wanted to be encouraged. Probably my heart and my ears weren’t in the place to hear anything. I would say, really be sure that your heart is in the right place: that it’s resting in the Lord and that it’s filled there completely first. Maybe that means that you go to Celebrate Recovery (which I highly recommend, I’ve been through the steps twice) to deal with any roots and hurts in your heart that your need is stemming from. Your husband is going to disappoint you in things no matter what and so he’s not going to be able to fill that need enough, because more than likely you’ll get a little bit of encouragement but not really all that you’re wanting. So go there first. Be satisfied in the Lord first. Dig and find what’s in you that’s really just starving, and then from there I think you’ll be at a freer place to talk to your husband and say, “this is something I desire from you but I don’t need from you. I would love it but if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be okay.” Then I think that frees him up to be an encouragement to you. Because more than likely he’s feeling the weight of that from you, whether you’ve said it at all.
Stephanie: I would also say if you’re that woman who finds it easy to share your frustrations with your friends and vent: be wise in that. That could really do damage. If there is a sin issue there with your husband…you’re allowed to speak the truth in love to him, and like Lauren said, you can’t speak that truth in love out of bitterness or anger or hurt or frustration. That’s not speaking the truth in love. That’s speaking out of your needs. Like she was saying, once you are in that place where you’ve repented and confessed and prayed, “Holy Spirit I need your guidance, I need you to fill me,” especially if there is sin there, it needs to be spoken. That’s one of the ways we can help our husbands. If he’s non-responsive or angry at you, seek wise counsel. That might be from elders, but again you have to be very careful.
Lauren: There’s a book out there, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp that I highly recommend. It talks about a desire becoming a need and how that turns into more. It would just be a good book to read. And yes, like Stephanie said, just be careful, but go get counseling. Even ask him if he’d be willing to go together, and if he’s not then you just go. I went through counseling. Love it. Promote it. Biblical counseling.
Q: I had two children back to back. What’s the best way to transition from being ultra-involved with the church to taking a back seat or different role?
Kara: Let your husband lead in that. Talk to your husband and make sure you guys have a plan for how you’re going to transition. Then repent of your sin. Your husband might even share with you what your sin is, and that’s okay. And then repent of that and don’t stay in your sin, and turn. Walk in a new way and do it a new way and let your husband lead you and he will. The godly man that he needs to be and wants to be is going to lead you in that. And now follow him, because he’s going to say to you, like me, “No, let’s not sing in the band every week, let’s not teach every children’s ministry, let’s not lead every women’s ministry, please let’s not do that.” And don’t, don’t do it. And if you’ll follow him and follow Christ, the transition will be great. If you’re asking that question, that means you need to transition.
Susan: Something that came up at our table, we talked about how sometimes when things start to happen, especially if you’ve been in charge of a particular ministry and someone takes it over, all of a sudden it doesn’t look like you wanted it to look, so there’s this temptation to finagle your way back in there and take it back. Bruce and I talk often about the fact that just because you plant a church doesn’t mean that everything happens like you want it to happen. There are a lot of things that happen at Clear Creek that if I was king, it wouldn’t be that way. I mean to think that everything is going to happen directly just the way you want it that’s just not realistic. God put this body together and we’re all different, we all bring different gifts, and it’s kind of arrogant on my part to think that I know exactly how it should be done. We’re really giving away the ministry.
Stephanie: The Lord tells us to walk humbly before Him, and sometimes we just need to take that humble pill. Which means not being involved in everything.
Q: What do you say to those women who suggest you do something (like nursery, women’s bible study, etc.) when you really need to focus on taking care of your husband and children?
Kara: It was here, through Acts 29, that I came to realize this manipulation had been happening to me for fourteen years. People want your ear. We all need to wake up and stop allowing others to dictate our priorities! It is wrong and sinful and by listening you’re allowing them to stay in their sin. I now have a new policy that if I have an idea or someone else has an idea I pray about it and I wait at least twenty-four hours.
Lauren: Things were a little bit different for us in planting – we didn’t have a core group come plant with us so we weren’t as accessible as some of you might be. Honestly I would say, “why don’t you submit that to whomever?” So I don’t have very good experience. Instead of letting them coming to me to finagle their way, I say, “okay well you need to go talk to such-and-such and bring that idea to them.” Then the leadership who should make the call can either say ‘that’s great’ or ‘I’m sorry, we’re doing it this way.’”
Q: I’m weak in theology, what do you suggest I read or how do I grow in this area?
Susan: I just finished the Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, the big one, not the Christian Beliefs one. Every one will think you’re really smart when they see it! It is really incredible. Don’t let the thickness of the book intimidate you. It is a great read. And you can actually get his podcasts where he teaches it online.