By Stacey Tolbert
Have you ever desired to have a greater impact in your community and in the world? Have you wondered about the true purpose God has for you? You can accomplish more as a couple when you are fulfilling God’s purposes together.
Finding Your Strength and Purpose
As a wife and mother of four, and a stay-at-home mom for nearly eleven years, I often wrestled with my identity and purpose. Early in our marriage, my husband and I moved to a new community, full of hope for opportunities to minister together. When my expectations met the reality of raising four children, I realized my personal influence in the community would not look as I had first thought.
My husband became a well-known, highly regarded pastor, while my days were spent changing diapers and going to playdates. Though I loved being a mom, I often felt unseen, while my husband was esteemed by others.
Before having children, I gave my husband a framed Bible verse from 1 Samuel 14:7 – “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” (NIV)
These expressive words of blessing were spoken by Jonathan’s armor-bearer as Jonathan led with him into battle against the Philistines. Jonathan was the only one with a sword in the battle and the armor-bearer followed with trust, encouragement and only a shield for protection.
This man could have looked at all the reasons to back out or to criticize Jonathan. Instead, he saw Jonathan’s vision and spurred him on with courage and support.
You may identify with that struggle to find your own sense of purpose or feel resentful when your husband’s purpose seems strong. You may become critical out of personal insecurity when you feel that your gifts are being devalued.
But dear wife, know this: whether caring with intention for your family at home or influencing others in your career, God has a good and important purpose for you. When you release feelings of inadequacy and put your trust in God, he reveals his purposes for you and will give you joy as you live them out.
When we look closely at the story of Jonathan’s armor-bearer, consider how he entered the battle without a sword. He moved forward with encouragement for the task ahead, regardless of the risk.
The armor-bearer’s wholehearted trust in God allowed him to support Jonathan’s vision, without competing for power or trying to influence in a different direction. He never sought to be recognized, only to encourage and serve with his whole heart.
In truth, Jonathan could never have accomplished the victory without his armor-bearer’s faithful commitment. The armor-bearer’s example is still powerful for us today.
Using Your Gifts to Complement, Not Compete
How can your gifts and strengths uniquely complement your husband and fulfill God’s purposes? Instead of resenting your husband for excelling where you may not, celebrate how his qualities and gifts help you be a better person and bring God glory. Look for ways to utilize and combine your strengths in your marriage for greater impact and influence on those around you.
What is an area of weakness for your husband? How can you strengthen him by offering your gifts and talents in a grace-filled way, rather than focusing on his inadequacies?
As wives, we are not called to withstand mistreatment, nor to support our husband’s unhealthy decisions. If this is your experience, seek counsel about the safe choice for you and your family, and pray for his heart to be changed.
So many marriages end up with both wives and husbands seeking greater respect and a desire to stop being criticized. It is a vicious dance when we compete with our husbands to be heard and valued, and the end result is often bitterness and division.
Recognize that you and your husband are on the same team with many of the same goals. As teammates, might you let down your guard and work to complement, not compete, so that you can reach and celebrate your successes together? Let your husband know you are with him heart and soul as you seek to be fulfilling God’s purposes together.
Stacey Tolbert is a writer, Director of Engagement, and women’s ministry leader at the church her husband pastors in Northwest Ohio. Stacey and her husband have been serving in ministry together for over 20 years. Stacey has journeyed from college ministry to being a stay-at-home mom to their four children, to full-time teaching, and finally following the call to share her gifts through writing and ministry. Her heart is to help women discover their greatest potential, as they learn to embrace their God-given gifts, both in marriage and in life.