22 June 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
The School of Acts had a Pastors and Leaders seminar on 20th June in HIS church, focusing on how to have a ministry-marriage balance.
A clinically trained counselor and teacher in the Ivy League, Dr Larry Keefauver was the speaker and has published over 60 books in 12 languages. In 2001, he was also the keynote speaker for the first international conference on the Family in Malaysia, hosted by the Malaysian Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
With a marriage that nearly ended in shambles, Dr Larry explained why Christian pastors are divorcing at a horrific rate in United States, which is second highest after psychologists. About 1200 pastors also leave the church every month in United States due to crisis in faith, finances and family.
“It nearly happened to Judy and I too after I became a pastor for 18 years with three children and after four different churches. At that time, I was a senior pastor in Texas.”
“My difficulty in marriage is that wherever I move to a new church, I would get myself a new mistress. And my mistress is my church. She drained my energy and time,” said Dr Larry.
Why is marriage amongst the ministers of God breaking down despite their knowledge in the Word?
For instance, Dr Larry is a well-learned minister who studied in Ivy League about the early church fathers, Greek and Hebrew; he even obtained a doctorate in Counseling Psychology.
“I thought being a minister meant preaching at the pulpit. I was very academic then and I did not know about people. God then spoke to me and said, ‘you need to learn on how to work with people, because people are hurting’,” said Dr Larry.
Hence, he began to invest 30 to 40 hours per week counseling the people in his church, which could be emotionally exhausting. When people affirm, encourage and edifies, they make a deposit into your emotional bank. Vice versa, there are also people who constantly make emotional withdrawals.
Because Larry spent all his emotional energy in church, he had nothing left for his wife Judy. As a result, Judy also had a brief affair because her emotional needs were not met in marriage. So, they went for a Christian counselor who to their dismay advised them to divorce.
But Christians should not choose to divorce. Although Moses permitted divorce in the Old Testament, God proclaimed that He would make a new covenant with His people by putting the law in their minds and writing the law in their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). Hence, under the new covenant in Jesus Christ, we are a new creation in Him, with new hearts and new minds (2 Corinthians 5:17). Divorce is not part of God’s original design. When a woman and a man marry, both of them are no longer two but one flesh (Mat 19:5-6).
“We have a mindset of a marriage that is shaped by culture and tradition but not God’s Word. There is a way to divorce-proof and affair-proof your marriage. There is a way to balance ministry and family life. There is a priority that is God-given. Before the church existed, He created marriage,” said Larry.
Hence, God comes first, followed by marriage and family, and thirdly, church and ministry.
“Your emotional and spiritual energy should be focused on your marriage and family. For Christians, divorce is not an option. If divorce is an option, then breaking a covenant is an option. But God does not withdraw or break a covenant. Jesus Christ has died for our sins and it is a covenant which has already been made and will not be taken back,” said Larry.
A man or woman’s relationship to the Lord is reflected in the marriage relationship. For instance, a wife’s favorable disposition, which personified a well-watered garden, reflects the good relationship of the husband with the Lord.
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