Over the past 5 years of marriage, my wife and I have had the great privilege of getting to know some great new friends. In recent months we have been informed that many of the other married couples in our circles have filed for divorce, separated, or are struggling in their marriage. When we find out about this we have often felt sick to our stomachs and not because we feel like we are better than those couples but because it is so heart breaking to us that we cannot imagine the pain our friends are going through.
Before I dig into the rest of this article I must preface that you will not gain any knowledge about how to play the guitar better and there won’t be any new gear talked about. Perhaps I should apologize for using the platform which is WorshipGtr.com to speak of this but I need it to be heard.
“Stop cheating on your spouse with ministry!” AND GEAR!
With an outside view to many of our friends going through struggles and devastation in their marriage I have been forced to look at the ways I am not serving my wife. Oddly enough at the moment my life/ministry balance is very good but that has been a rarity in our marriage. We as worship leaders, guitarists and pastors often spend countless hours away from our wives and families all in the name of reaching people for Christ. It has to stop!
At the core of us being ministry-aholics, yes I made up a word, there is a sense of fear that if I do not do it, no one will. Deeper than that is lack of faith. Since my son, Noah was born a year and a half ago I have went from being an every week guitarist to once or twice a month and perhaps the most valuable lesson in that was that God will always bring people up to fill gaps. Yes a few Sundays you might need to use tracks for electric guitar or bass guitar until God raises up someone, but it is better than you burning yourself and your partner out.
Towards the end of a three year stint where I can count on one hand how many times I didn’t play on worship team, my wife was burned out. Yes she recognized that what I was doing was good but she felt like ministry mattered more than her. You see it is not always the time we spend it is the value that we place on things. Are you putting more value on your ministry than your wife or kids?
I have vented about my experience and the problem I see with modern Church ministry but now I want to share with you some of the ways I am trying to be a better husband and create a better work/life/ministry balance.
Stop Doing So Much
The first, is self explanatory but the hardest. STOP doing so much. Yes I know, your pastor will have to get over it. Your church might have to deal with having a 5 piece band instead of a 6 piece but in the end you keeping your marriage and family together is more valuable to the work of Christ in the church than you playing guitar on Sunday morning.
Involve Your Spouse
This will likely not work for everyone, because not everyone has a spouse with the same musical/spiritual giftings. If your spouse is talented or loves music, share with them the things you are working on. Have conversations about the songs you are currently working on. Share with them your goals as a musician. Perhaps more importantly, and this goes for everyone, spend time chatting about what God is doing in your life through ministry.
This is the area where I have consistently fell short in my marriage. I would go to worship team and have these incredible times of worship and moments in the spirit but then come home and be silent about it with my wife. This is easy to do. After we leave rehearsal and bible study we are bombarded by billboards, radio, kids, work the next day, etc. But we have to take the time to re-focus and discuss what God is doing in our lives with our spouses.
Stick to the Budget
Another area I see as a huge problem is our obsession with gear. All you have to do is look at social media to see that we value new shiny guitars, new pedals that sound basically the same as our last ones with a different paint scheme, and my personal favorite, gorgeous boutique tube amps, specially the ones that light up! What I fear is happening though is that we are cheating on our spouses with Gear.
Are you fudging your budget numbers or hiding funds from extra work projects to buy new gear? Are you talking your wife into buying that new guitar when in all reality she hasn’t received a gift over $50 since you bought her wedding ring?
All of these things are areas I have struggled in and I expect that other guitarists and worship leaders do to. The solution here is to sit down with your wife and discuss finances. Setup a budget. This doesn’t mean you can’t get that new guitar or amp but it might mean that you buy your wife’s new dishes before you get the guitar. Talk through what your desires and wants are then prioritize.
Remember Your Vows
One of the things the Pastor who married us, said that has stuck with me, is that when you get married make sure you are committing to one another in front of Christ. Often times when we read our vows and commit to our spouse it is more ceremonial than it is a matter of the heart. Remember the commitment you made to your spouse and that you are now One in Christ. Already in our 5 years of marriage I have found myself out of focus on this matter but I am so thankful for what that Pastor told us. Remember that even if you find yourself out of focus you can start re-focusing here.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this article and it is my prayer that your marriages and families are positively effected by it. I am not perfect and neither is my marriage but some of these things have really helped me move towards a good ministry/work/life balance. If at anytime you would like to chat more about this topic I am available and would love to chat with you in confidence. Blessings to all of you and your families. Hoping and praying for huge things!