I recently did something I’ve never done before—I preached the message with my wife. We did a tag-team session that turned out to be as enlightening for me as it was for anyone listening. This is the sort of admission that reveals just how mysterious marriage can be. We’ve been married for 15 years, and I’m honestly still learning things about her, and sometimes, like this week when we worked on a message together, I end up seeing parts of her that I’ve only ever caught out of the corner of my squinted eye.
Here’s what I learned:
1) My wife is really smart. Now, I’ve know for some time that she was smart, but this week I learned that she is pretty much a genius. Honestly, I’ve probably valued her for her natural emotional intelligence at the expense of her significant logical and theological gifts. She doesn’t just ‘see things from a woman’s perspective,’ she has an ability to look into the scriptures and draw conclusions that reached further than we had time to communicate to our congregation on Sunday morning. It was her insight that provided the frame for everything we had to say. I expected to do the ‘heavy Bible lifting,’ but after one short talk with her about the passage, I threw all my sticky notes away.
2) My church needs more up-front interaction with my wife. I’ve know for some time that people tend to tune me out after five to six weeks of regular preaching (that’s not their fault, it’s just what human beings do). In an effort to keep the presentation of God’s word fresh, AND because I’ve always valued having the community preach to the community, I have regularly employed the gifts that are resident in my church—however, it never occurred to me that my wife needed to be one of those voices. I’ve tried to protect her, and distance her from other people’s unrealistic expectations, but I’ve probably been a little too thorough.
3) The weight of a sermon isn’t just impeccable logic, thorough study or smooth delivery—it is the Spirit of God breathing through an actual human life. Obviously, no one is arguing for flaky logic or clunky delivery, but pastors often overvalue the objective, measurable metrics of preaching and miss the intangibles. As soon as my wife stood up front and began to speak, there was a weight and an authority there that I simply do not carry. It means something for a mother of four who is in the trenches of parenting, homeschooling and pastoring to stand up and speak God’s word. So many in our church are struggling to manage their hectic schedules with God, and it is a powerful thing when someone in that very same spot speaks from it, to it. (The truth is, I live there too, but most people have ideas about pastors that sometimes diminish their awareness of the fact that my life with Jesus is very ‘daily.’) The church needs to embrace the priesthood of every believer even more, and one of the best ways to do this is opening the pulpit to the ‘non-professionals.’