by Harriet Hairston
I taught my church’s school of ministry for seven years. Out of all the lessons I either created or updated, “Tests of Ministry Preparation” has been the most valuable one overall. I taught that God will use anything and anyone to ensure the motives and actions of a person He called are fit for His use.
Taken outside the context of the church and ministry, learning about these tests can be a valuable tool to understanding marriage and intimate relationships.
What I’ve found in my own life is the fact that at any time, one of these tests is at play. Many times, multiple tests are taking place simultaneously, and it can feel overwhelming. I’ve learned that the opportunity to mature and love deeper comes disguised as many of these tests, so although they may seem unpleasant, they shape and mold us to be better spouses, parents, and PEOPLE.
The TIME Test:
Have you ever been in a position where you have mapped your marriage out and cast a vision with corresponding goals? You do everything you can to stay with the plan, yet the end result eludes you? This is the TIME test. Its purpose is to grow and mature you in your faith, both spiritually and personally. To pass this test, it is imperative to STAY FOCUSED on the goal and refuse to let go until you sink your teeth into its realization.
The MOTIVATION Test:
There are times when I have done all the right things for all the wrong reasons. To get through this kind of test, CHECK YOURSELF. If your motives are honorable, then simply ask for what you want. You cannot expect to receive what you haven’t asked for.
The WILDERNESS Test:
This test occurs when you find yourself or your marriage in dry places spiritually, financially or relationally. It is designed to teach you how to appreciate the good things when they are received and to draw you closer to both God and your spouse. To survive this test, it is imperative to maintain an ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE and be grateful for all you have. Take time out to show appreciation to your spouse for who they are in your life as well.
The FRUSTRATION Test:
This test is designed to shake an individual or marriage to its core. What is the VISION of your life? Your marriage? You are encountering the frustration test when you go through a season of NO SUCCESS, in spite of having a vision and coordinating goals in place. You have put your best foot forward in your marriage and life, and your best just isn’t good enough. When the shaking is done, and all the dust settles, this test will show you what your main priorities are. To endure this test, HOLD ON…don’t ever give up on your marriage and your life’s purpose. Additionally, it helps to reevaluate the goals and vision you have formulated. Flexibility is the key.
There are many more tests that can be outlined; however, I chose these four particularly because my life and marriage are encountering them simultaneously right now. They could be the perfect storm to either end everything or remove all that does not matter and give me the courage to clean up and recover better than I was before they started. I choose to see through the problems/tests to the end result. I know it will take hard work, but in the end, it will be worth it.
BMWK, are you encountering any of these tests in your marriage and/or life? How are you dealing with them? What end result do you think will come of them?