By: Todd Elliott
I’ve been married 22 years today. I can’t even believe that so much time has gone by. On my wedding day 22 years ago, I had been working at my first full time job out of college for about 9 months. It had been quite a roller coaster.
I loved what I got to do. As a result, I found myself at work every day of the week. Not because anybody was making me, but because I couldn’t get enough of it! Pretty soon into it, my fiancé moved from Atlanta to join me in Michigan. Never mind that it snowed in the second week of October that year, my future bride had another rude awakening. She wasn’t the only love of my life!
With the crazy life of a technical artist in the local church, we had to do some serious work to figure out how to have a strong, healthy marriage, while still cranking out productions to
help tell the gospel story. Not an easy combination. Now, before I get into too much detail, I know that every person is different, which means that ever couple is different. What worked for my wife and I may not work for you, but I’m going to tell you anyway.
Here are a few phrases my wife has used to help me remember that it isn’t all about technical arts in the local church. As a result, we’ve had a pretty good run these last 22 years and I hope that we keep growing and stretching together for another 22 at least.
“Come home early.”
This phrase was usually uttered as I was getting in the car. It also had an upward inflection with eyebrows raised. It usually got a laugh from me. Not a “That’s funny!” laugh, but the nervous kind. Sometimes I would answer with “Like 2am? Is that what you mean by early?”
While this wish was very rarely granted, it did do one thing to my mindset. This phrase was always in the back of my mind. When I wondered if I should push through to get something done, keeping me late or waiting until tomorrow, this phrase would pop up. If I had just spent a 15 hour day at work and my afternoon is clear, my wife’s voice would enter my head.
If I were honest, I very rarely came home early. However, I did spend quite a bit of time weighing out the options that got me home sooner than I would have otherwise.
Home much effort are you putting forth to your wife and family? Does ministry always win, or do you sometimes drop the ball on you work so your family feels valued?
“We need vision too”
During one particularly long Christmas run, I was getting up from the breakfast table to head into another long day and night at work. My wife gave me the “where do you think you’re going?” look. When I tried to let her know that as the leader, I had leadership type things to do before we got into the next rehearsal. In that moment, she let me know that just like my team needed vision, our family did also.
From my kids perspective, Dad was just not home. There wasn’t anything attached to it. The only way they would understand why I was working so hard is if I told them. Unless I gave them a vision for all the work I was doing and the part they played in making it happen, there is no way they could get behind me being gone.
In the crazy schedule that Christmas brings to local church technical artists, large sacrifices are made by everyone, especially the families left behind. They need to understand what it’s all about.
“Be a man”
One night after a midweek service, I saw my wife make a b-line to the senior pastor. I thought to myself, I can’t watch. I was tearing down the stage, so I turned my back on the action and just kept wrapping cables.
She was confronting the pastor on how hard they worked me and that they need to give me a break. He listened patiently, then let her know that nobody was asking me to work that hard and that I needed to be a man and have some boundaries.
My wife never actually says this phrase to me, but that experience early in our marriage really helped frame the rest of our time together. I needed to learn to say no. I needed to learn to be the bad guy. I couldn’t keep blaming someone else for me working so hard, I needed to blame myself. And what was I going to do about it?
I think so many tech people (myself included) can get themselves into a victim mentality, blaming other people for our problems. In reality, we have more control over our situations than we think, if we just stand up and take responsibility for ourselves and our own lives.
Especially moving into my current future, I can’t imagine doing it without my wife’s amazing support. We would not have made it this far without it and we wouldn’t have a chance to keep going.
Thank you to my wife for having the courage to stand up for yourself and our family when work became too important.
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