How to plant your church without losing your spouse: Pay attention

By Kathy Ferguson Litton

If we are discussing “How to plant your church without losing your spouse,” the most significant counsel I would give planters is to pay attention to her. Which, quite frankly, sounds so very basic, doable and most likely something you currently practice.

Yet, I want to suggest that you pay attention to a particular specific attribute in your wife especially in the demanding, hectic early days of planting. We find this feature mentioned in Psalms 128:3, “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house….”

Pay attention to your wife’s fruitfulness, her flourishing. Why is this important?

Bearing fruit is outward expression of an inward reality. If she is not flourishing, it is a soul issue.

Just for clarity sakes, I am not applying the term “fruitfulness” to spiritual fruit—that is truly the most important application of this term fruitful. Yet, there are other ways we need to gauge flourishing or fruitfulness.

Ask yourself: Is your wife thriving, is she healthy? Yes, even in the midst of demands, details, progress and set backs do you see vibrancy, hope? Is she struggling deeply with anxiety or fear? That doesn’t mean she won’t experience fatigue or discouragement but overall is she hopeful, engaged and balanced? Is she able to hand burdens, fears over to Christ or is she living in a constant state of being overwhelmed?

Listen, watch and lean into, lead and love her well. Don’t miss warning signs that say she is NOT flourishing. Your attentiveness is critical.

The Bible encourages husbands to be attentive to their wives. “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife…” (1 Peter 3:7).

Even though you live under incredible demands yourself, I urge you to give her your attention. Stop to connect with her, take time to tune into her. Marriage is a call to listen. You will need to listen to what is not being said as well.

Like a warning light on a dashboard, our marriages usually have some advance signals going off. Don’t ignore or overlook subtle or not so subtle warning signs that beg for attention or maintenance. Do you see warning signs she is depleted in these areas?

Is she peopled-out?
Is she lonely and isolated?
Is she mourning some losses?
Is she dealing with fear?

Is she getting rest?
Is she eating well?
Is she exercising enough?
Does she need to play?

Is she in a dry place?
Is she wrestling church planting?
Is she needing someone to pour into her?
Is she needing community?

Paying attention to your wife says you love her more than you love yourself.
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.Ephesians 5:28

Paying attention to your wife tells your children and your plant she is loved and is your highest priority.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. Proverbs 5:18

Paying attention to your wife is a picture of sacrificial love.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.– Ephesians 5:25-27

Published September 18, 2018

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Kathy Ferguson Litton

Kathy lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband Ed, pastor of Redemption Church. Both lost former spouses in car accidents, and God uniquely gave them new love and life together in 2009. Kathy enjoyed 26 years of life and ministry alongside Rick Ferguson. She has three children and ten grandchildren. Presently she serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development.