I was taught to avoid certain conversation topics at the dinner table––sometimes politics, money, or religion, depending on who was around. You might have experienced it too. Right or wrong, we avoid certain subjects because they are often connected to strong emotions. Some things matter deeply.
Some topics are even more personal when they are between a husband and wife. One that can be especially tender is the topic of serving overseas in missions. There is a lot at stake when potential decisions could mean quitting jobs, selling the house, pulling kids out of school, and moving far from family and friends.
In addition, there is a risk of discovering you don’t see eye to eye, which can create stress in a marriage. So, how do we carefully talk with our spouse about something that could greatly impact our family? How can we discuss this well?
When communicating with a spouse, the conversation’s journey is often as important as the destination. Here are four tips to help you and your spouse journey well.
When communicating with a spouse, the conversation’s journey is often as important as the destination.
Discern, don’t Persuade
Share your desires and what you feel God has been teaching you, but do not seek to persuade your spouse. There is a difference between seeking to discern, together with your spouse and trying to convince them of God’s plan.
If your spouse makes a decision to go to the nations simply because you have convinced them to do so, it’s certain to bring you pain down the road. From the start, trust God to lead your spouse as he has led you. Pray a lot! Then, plan some unrushed time alone with your spouse so you can talk, process, and pray together as you mutually seek direction.
Trust God’s Timing
Don’t rush the discernment process. If you and your spouse aren’t currently on the same page, use this season to bring others into the conversation. Seek wise counsel from your church family and let them look at your lives and ask hard questions.
Take advantage of this time to pray, fast, search the Scriptures, and write down what God is teaching you. And build up your service muscles. Actively serve together in ways you both agree on today—pray, give, and support good gospel work around the world.
Remember, our hearts often follow where we spend our time and money (Matthew 6:21). Live generously and see where God leads you. Importantly, be patient and trust that the entire discernment process is part of your preparation for whatever lies ahead.
Be Willing to Let God Redirect Your Life
Praise God that he has given you a burden for the nations to know him. At the same time, be open-handed with how, when, and where you are willing to serve, and don’t assume that your spouse is the only one who needs to change.
You may not know for sure if God is leading you overseas, but, if you are married, you do know for sure that committing to your spouse according to God’s Word is your calling for the rest of your life.
Don’t assume that your spouse is the only one who needs to change.
So, don’t let a desire to serve in a particular role or location overpower clear commands from God’s Word. Husbands, you are called to love your wife as Christ has loved the church. Wives, you are called to submit to your husbands, as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22–25). Do these things excellently.
In Faith, Take Steps of Obedience and Rest in Christ
If you and your spouse both feel like God may be leading you to consider moving overseas for missions, take an active step of obedience in faith. You aren’t signing your life away, you are taking one more step in the discernment process. If you don’t know what the appropriate next step is, start by talking with your pastor. That’s your step. But, don’t be afraid.
Whether we move across an ocean or stay and do Great Commission work right where we are, we are given every spiritual blessing if we are in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). Rest in the finished work of Christ and trust him with your marriage and your future plans.
The point is simply this: when married couples communicate, the sanctifying communication process matters. So, represent Christ well during your season of discernment. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12). Through your communication and your marriage, model obedience to God and love for the nations by showing the world a beautiful picture of Christ and his church.