Biblical marriage in light of the challenges of ministry

by Olga Harris on February 12, 2021 in Ministers' Spouses

The Lord has given us one more year together to celebrate Valentine's Day!

God created marriage for companionship and reproduction. Those are the primary reasons He gave us in Scripture. However, marriage is a complex institution that has a huge impact in society.

When God observed his creation, He called it good. But there was one thing that the Lord noticed when He observed his creation. When He saw Adam alone on the earth, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Therefore He created woman to be man’s companion and helper. He gave them the task to control the earth and multiply--that is to make children.

“And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”- Genesis 2:22

Marriage is important to the world. Marriage is important to the church. And marriage is important to ministry. I want to explore the question ‘How should ministers team up with their spouses to do ministry together?”

One day I asked my husband, “Why do you love me?” He answered, “Because we are a team.” At the moment I did not understand what he meant. So I asked him again. “No really! Why do you love me so much?” He answered again, “Because we are a team! Because you are by my side. Because you are my wife and we are married!” I suppose I was actually wanting him to tell me that I am beautiful, smart, loving, caring–you get the picture. But what he was telling me is that he has valued me being by his side in the good times and in the hard times. He was saying that because we are a team, we could face ministry together. Even though ministry is, at times, challenging and demanding.

Our ministry path has not always been easy. In fact there have been times that it has been nothing less than difficult and trying. My husband and I have walked together in ministry for 26 years, long before he was a pastor. But we were always involved in doing the work of ministry together. We raised our son in volunteer ministry to the church. We have always lived a “Kingdom work lifestyle.”

When a godly woman marries a godly man, there are times that the marriage relationship may go beyond companionship and raising children together. Our commitment to God and His Kingdom will at times draw us into the path of ministry, whether or not there is an ordination and official call to ministry.

Any time we find ourselves being pointed toward ministry, we must find a way to keep our heart of service focused on our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot ever lose sight of our purpose, which is to obey and honor God.

I have to be honest with you. The ministry life can be trying and difficult. As a pastor’s spouse, our partners are constantly on the move, serving, teaching, preaching, visiting, and jumping from one project to another. They are always studying and researching, trying to find better ways to do ministry. At times their health suffers and they can be stressed about ministry situations. And we cannot avoid pointing out the elephant in the room–our spouses might even experience injustice and unreasonable demands from their congregations.

Pastors and their spouses should be united to accomplish ministry together. While this statement is absolutely true, it is very important to understand that the call of the pastor and the call of the pastor’s spouse are very different. The pastor is called to serve the congregation. However, the call of the pastor’s spouse is to the Lord and to their marriage. The pastor’s spouse is not called to serve the congregation in the same way that their partner is called. We are not called to be “pastora.” Yet there are times that we find ourselves pressed into service in the church. If we are not careful, we might easily find ourselves overwhelmed with the demands of the church. It is so easy to step into multiple roles in the church in order to help out the church and help take off some pressure from our pastor husbands. But we must be wise (Matthew 10:16) or we might soon find ourselves overcommitted and stressed out to the max. We have to find a delicate balance.

As a minister’s wife, I have to remind myself that I am not married to the church. I am married to my husband and I have my own roles to fulfill. I am a wife, a mother, and, in my own case, I have a ministry of my own that I must fulfill.

I want to encourage you, ministers and spouses, to set your marriage on the Rock of Jesus Christ. Lend strength to your marriage relationship by building it on a firm foundation of the Word of God. Put your focus on the One who called both you and your spouse to love and respect each other, to love and submit to one another, to serve together, to pour into others lives, to be encouragers, to be available and present.

We need to remember that we are setting the example for our children, and the congregation of a healthy and stable marriage.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. – Ephesians 5:25

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:33

Olga Harris is a licensed counselor serving in the Texas Baptists Counseling Network and a pastor’s wife.

Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.

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We are more together.

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