Feb 29, 2016
Help Her Thrive as a College Ministry Wife
Joey Tombrella offers advice for men who lead college ministry and want to help their wives thrive.
I have been in full time ministry for over ten years. I’ve experience the crucible of ministry highs and lows while a husband and father of three. There are times that I feel like I’m the greatest college minister ever, only to go home and see that I have neglected my wife who is often carrying more than I even imagine. If you haven’t been there, you will be. I asked my wife to help me write some simple, practical advice for all of us in ministry.
1. Stop and think. Men, what is the current state of your wife’s heart? Is she weary and tired, wishing that you would spend more time with her or the kids? You need to spend time weekly thinking about what your wife needs to thrive and to be encouraged. Find out what’s keeping you from accomplishing those things. Make changes.
2. Face it. Ministry is a joint effort. Your wife may not lead a Bible study for the girls, but she is certainly involved. She has to embrace the long weekends just like you, but may not get to sip a latte while talking about the latest Platt sermon because she is wrestling children at home. She has the gifting to encourage you, help you, and support you, so honor her. But she also needs to play an active role with the college girls. Remember, she may need to be around when you counsel female students and she needs to have input, if not primary input. Give her time to take the girls to lunch or coffee. When you see a girl that needs to be ministered to, ask your wife first before handing that to a student leader.
3. Preach at your wife. Just kidding! Don’t ever do that. Rather, fence off the time that she needs to receive nourishment in the Word. Get her a cup of coffee, buy her a new devotional book and take the kids to McDonald’s for an hour or two. Surprise her with special nights at least once a month and lots more if you are in a busy ministry season. If you need to appeal to your students for free babysitting, than do it. Show your wife, children and students what’s important.
4. Plan and calendar together. You are not Moses receiving an infallible plan alone, with your wife eager for instruction. She probably knows the family calendar, parties, and commitments better than you do. Spread the campus calendar, and church calendar out on the kitchen table and get your wife involved. Tell here the specific things you want to see happen in ministry and get her feedback on her desires for the two of you and the family. My biggest mistakes have been dreaming, planning and calendaring without my wife’s input. Also, pace the calendar out. As a college minister, you will be slammed in August and summer is usually busy planning around the first of the year. We have found that spring and early summer lend itself to restfulness. Think about that as you plan a personal retreat together or family vacation.
5. Fight your fear! Inside of you is a subtle, insecure person that wants to make the students in your ministry happy and think much of you. Trash that idol of insecurity. Don’t be ruled by crowds, interns and student leaders. Student leaders are wonderful, but they do not have the perspective of marriage. Instead, humble yourself and say “no” or “not right now” when it’s appropriate. Use your struggles in ministry and marriage as opportunities for discipleship. College students need to see this unique matrix. They also need to see college ministers who pursue excellence but are willing to stop polishing the ministry because you love your wife more.