Two becoming one: that is the challenge of marriage. A pair of independent I-me-mine types may have to work hard at blending his life-style and her life-style into their life-style. And the blending is likely to leave off where the vocation begins. This may be particularly so when one of the two persons is a minister.

It is not unusual to find a married male minister using his endowments to the full while his wife suppresses her own gifts in order to further his productivity. She keeps the house running, the meals on schedule, and the children under control, trying to help reserve his physical, mental, and emotional strength for the people “out there” who really need him.

A women whose primary abilities lie in parenting and homemaking may thrive on this type of joint service. But a multigifted woman may be uncomfortably aware that she isn’t fulfilling her God-given potential.

Many a parsonage wife and child resent this kind of ministry for a different reason. They see “we” competing with “they” for the minister’s time. Mostly “they” get the best of the deal while “we” get to tiptoe around a collapsed clergyman. The pastor who doesn’t communicate at home how God is using him intensifies the problem. His family can’t even share vicariously in his calling.

Another concept of a couple ministry is that both have full but separate ministries outside the home. He preaches and she teaches the beginners in Sunday school; he sits on the executive board while she rolls bandages with the women’s missionary society; she plays the piano and he does visitation. They go their separate ways instead of bearing together the burdens of spiritual service. He won’t be bothered with her concerns about the four-year-olds and she’s too busy to encourage him in his labors. The emotional distance between them may grow, and the separate activities may increase to cover up the emptiness of their relationship.

The marital ideal of two becoming one suggests that we think not of your mission and my mission but of our mission. It may not be all joy at the start. Even in God’s business, egos tend to compete rather than cooperate. Adjustment takes time, repeated trial and error, and sometimes much forgiveness.

What are the possibilities? Well, one may speak; the other may polish and edit that message for publication, or use artistic, musical, or dramatic talent to enhance a lesson.

They may co-teach a Bible class, assuming joint responsibility for lesson preparation, teaching, visiting, and telephoning.

Counseling together is especially effective in pre-marital and marital counseling. The counseling couple are expressing their unity non-verbally as well as verbally. They are a living illustration.

A few couples speak together at church functions. Using dialogue as a format, they communicate truth from both the masculine and the feminine perspective.

Some ministers are discovering the benefits of viewing their wives as colleagues in the work. The pastor and his wife combine to plan worship services and discuss sermon ideas, illustrations, and applications. They set goals and investigate means of achieving a well-rounded ministry.

As the individuals and their family and church situations change, the form of their service may vary, perhaps requiring some difficult adjustments. Now one and now the other may be more public in the outworkings of their team ministry. And while credit should be given where it is due, it is amazing what a couple can accomplish when neither cares who gets the glory so long as God does.

A joint ministry aids a couple in stirring up each other’s gifts (2 Tim. 1:6). In the context of a caring commitment, they provoke each other to love and good works (Heb. 10:24). Together they consider how their particular abilities can be combined for spiritual effectiveness. Above all, they experience the fulfillment of dividing the burdens and doubling the joys.

To combine the thoughts of the Lawgiver and the wise king: One of you shall chase a thousand, but two of you shall put ten thousand to flight. Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one.—PAMELA HOOVER HEIM, Pasadena, California.

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