Watch National Geographic for any decent amount of time, and you’ll discover a kingdom truth: isolation kills. The zebra that strikes out on his own is easy pickin’s for that cheetah. And a planting wife with no support network is a prime target for the enemy of her soul.
Solomon understood that there’s strength in numbers:
Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
We’ve already noted what a dream team looks like. Now it might be helpful to think through some really practical stuff on putting your team together.
- Let’s start out by answering an internal objection, shall we? I understand why my husband needs people supporting him, but I’m not important enough to warrant a team—I’m just a wife. Honey, in the King’s economy, the term “just a” doesn’t exist. There’s no such thing as “just a” wife. You’ve received a divine calling to the same battlefield your husband fights on. You may or may not be in the thick of the fray, but you hold your own precious work, and it makes an eternal difference. When we refuse the God-given importance of our role (as amorphous as that role can be), we cut ourselves, our husbands, our churches, and our mission off at the knees. Building a team is one of the healthiest things you can do as a planting wife.
- Fine, I might need to recruit a team. That’s kind of a big task, though. How do I go about it? Start by bathing the topic in prayer. Ask for God to bring along or point out women who are wise, safe, and available. Every one of your teammates (coach, counselor, advisor, teacher, mentor, and friend) will need to use wisdom in fulfilling her purpose. Being a safe person is required for the more sensitive information you’ll deal with as a spouse in ministry and will allow you to be completely honest without fear of judgment. Ladies who are wise and safe but not available won’t provide much help.
- If you have racked your brain and absolutely can’t come up with anyone to fill a position, consider a paid person. I know finances can get tricky for planting families, so be creative. If a few friends would be willing to fund a professional counselor, for instance, there you go. Or you might trade jobs—like cleaning the counselor’s garage for a session. Or ask your family for a year’s worth of sessions as a birthday/Christmas present. If there are no free ladies who fit the bill, take advantage of the resources God has installed around you.
- When you’ve identified some potential players, feel them out first. Take them out to coffee and give them a soft test run. For example, you might sit down with the girl you’d like to become your advisor and ask her thoughts about a certain area you’d like to make some progress in. Then watch her do her thing. If any red flags arise throughout the meeting (everybody’s red flags are different, so know what yours are), no big deal—you’re just out a cup of coffee. Then you can resume the search elsewhere. But if you feel good about the way she handles the situation, take the next step. You might ask to meet again for another topic or go ahead and ask her if she’d be willing to serve as your official advisor.
- Wrestle with how you’d like your dream team to function. Will you meet with each member monthly? quarterly? when an issue comes up? Use emails/texts/snail mail/video chat? Ask them all to pray for the same things and then give updates? (I’d recommend touching base with everyone at least monthly and with your friend way more regularly than monthly, by the way, even if it’s not in person. Encouragement and accountability need to be steady streams.) I’ve heard of a man who meets up with his whole team once a year in a retreat setting. If you’re physically removed from your teammates, a conference call weekend could be so much fun. The team can be as involved as you choose. Spend some time talking with God about the details, and then move forward in freedom and joy.
- Support networks need to know what to expect, but it’s okay to be flexible as your seasons change. A first baby might call for a new (or extra) teacher. Being slammed by depression may require a different mentoring approach.
- It’s nice to remember that even though your team is your support network, their pouring into you doesn’t end with you. You can take the encouragement, advice, tools, etc. they offer and pass them along as you minister to others. Knowing that the people around me will benefit from what I’m learning makes it easier for me to ask for help—it’s not a selfish endeavor. It’s a kingdom endeavor.
- Decide on how long you’d like your team to function. Asking a group of girls you love to come alongside you for life is great, but expecting a bunch of paid professionals to do the same could get really pricey. In my opinion, every planter’s wife needs a solid support team for the first five years on the field. If a chaotic season comes up after that, you might pursue whichever teammates would best fit the situation. If/when your team winds down, make it a huge point to celebrate. They will have walked you through some really good times and really hard times. Party over what God has done. Thank them for their contribution in the work of your heart, family, and ministry. Figure out how to end well.
- Finally, if this all seems overwhelming (or like a pipe dream), remember that the Holy Spirit fills each of the teammate positions perfectly. He is the ultimate coach, counselor, advisor, teacher, mentor, and friend. Even if your team is absolutely empty right now, you are never alone. With that said, the Lord longs to work through community on your behalf. Consider your dream team as God with flesh on. He created us to be so much stronger together.