by David Armstrong
What do you do when you are called to China as a missionary, but your wife isn’t so sure about that?
To put it another way, how can a couple looking at missions mesh who they are? We long to see those drives and passions flow in the same direction rather than straining or crashing the relationship.
The answer: It takes “talkin’ and travellin’”! In part we know who we are, where we dream to go and our preferred methods for getting there. But actual over-the-road travel is what reveals, and even refines or proves what God has placed and developed within each of us. Over-the-road travels show you each others’ preferred speed, preferred and maximum stress levels, preferred relaxation and celebration points (and styles), and preferred types of work and ministry. Practice in sensing differences and then adjusting to one another can only occur in these real life road trips. Get involved in some ministry and mission activities together now to learn the skills you will need for then.
Each of us is unique in gifts, desires, energy levels, and the sense of God’s calling. According to the gifts and passions that burn within us, we see and feel life differently. It takes time to see through someone else’s eyes, and even longer to truly value that “other” perspective, but that is what it takes to blend the two of you into one!
A key issue is one’s perspective on husband/wife roles. Some wives clearly sense a calling to a man over the calling to ministry. Wherever he goes, she goes. On the other side of the spectrum are wives who feel the calling and the driving purpose the strongest, and they must be about it! Whichever “coupling” you share, it takes “talkin’ and travellin’” to learn the fine art of meshing two passions and visions into one. Yes, doing things together takes longer, but it is far more balanced and able to serve a broader spectrum of need with far less wear and tear on the relationship than going it alone.
Mature interaction requires the discussion of topics for the purpose of understanding another’s ideas, feelings and reasons, and to communicate one’s own, without feeling forced to agree or disagree. I often wonder if, in practice, we actually think it is our job to call others to missions, as though the Holy Spirit has forgotten how, or at the very least, is not capable of doing the job without our concerned help. Trust Him and trust your spouse to hear God’s voice. The individualism of our culture will fight you on this point! The push for speed, visible results accomplishments and goals in our culture will also fight you on this. Solid growth in partnering requires time! Discuss and understand. Pray and seek advice. Interact with friends. Consider the reasons, skills, gifts and personality of each other. Talk and travel, together!
God doesn’t lead spouses in opposite directions, but it can take a good while to understand each other’s passions, gifts and callings – and figure out how God intends to blend the two together!