When Your Spouse Isn’t Involved in Your Ministry
Just glancing at this title, it sounds negative, doesn’t it? But I’m going to tell you how your spouse not being involved in ministry can be a positive.
I’d like to share some of my personal background behind this belief. Growing up, I dreamed of marrying someone intelligent, passionate, and driven. She would love Jesus and have a calling in ministry. I eventually met, fell in love with, and married this woman. We were called to different ministries—I was hired by a church and she by a camp.
Throughout my time in Christian circles, I’ve often heard people express their opinions of what should come next in this situation. Even though my wife works full time in Christian ministry, people often expect her to fulfill a particular role as a pastor’s wife at the church—they think she should work overtime by volunteering with me and being an active member of the church. If a couple is called to follow this path, there’s nothing wrong with that decision. However, I do believe it’s wrong to require this for every couple where one or both work in ministry.
When I interviewed with my current church, the pastor bluntly informed me they were not expecting a two-for-one deal—the church had no set expectations for my wife. I was the one being hired for the position. If she chose to participate and volunteer, she would be welcomed, but there was no obligation or expectation. This helped me discern that this church was the right fit for us with where we are in our ministries and callings.
Despite our beliefs and explanations on the matter, there remains an expectation by some family members and friends that my wife should contribute more toward my ministry. But for some reason, there doesn’t seem to be the same expectations regarding my involvement in her ministry. Very rarely does anyone suggest I volunteer with her at camp. Perhaps this difference is because she’s a woman. Many Christians unfortunately feel that because she’s the woman, she needs to support me rather than vice versa.
As an openly egalitarian couple, we don’t find this to be necessary or healthy. We fully support one another, and we strive not to pressure each other. We only volunteer or attend an event in the other’s ministry when we genuinely desire or feel led to.
Gone are the days of “buy-one-get-one-free” ministry mentality. Gone are the days when one partner is expected to spend the majority of his or her spare time helping in a spouse’s job. There are many reasons we should rejoice when our spouses don’t feel pressured to help in our ministries. I would like to share three benefits I’ve experienced because of my wife’s decision to limit when she helps with my ministry:
1. It builds healthy boundaries.
If we worked for the same organization, it would be challenging for us to keep work at work. We’ve designated time after work to share thoughts, joys, and frustrations we’ve experienced in our separate ministries. And then we shift our focus to our first priorities: God and each other. We have an opportunity to share about our days, and then the boundaries we have in place allow us to relax together. These boundaries mean that we must be creative in how we show support
for each other’s ministries. For example, we support one another by offering an outside professional perspective, and we can bounce ideas off each other. Because we’re not too heavily involved in each other’s ministries, we can see problems and suggest ideas from an outsider’s perspective.
2. It prevents arguments.
From the beginning of our relationship, it has been clear that as the firstborn children in each of our families, we are both similar and different. We’re perfectionists and overachievers, but we each have our own way of doing things. If we worked together in the same ministry all the time, we would want to correct how the other does certain tasks. It’s not that we’re necessarily doing something wrong (I’m sure we both have room for improvement), but we have different ways of approaching problems. Because we allow space for each of us to thrive in our own ministry, our relationship stays strong and doesn’t turn into a competition.
3. It allows our interactions to remain family focused.
There are many couples out there who can work together in a professional setting with great success. But we’ve found that because we don’t work together in ministry, our time together is focused on our family. Our society emphasizes the importance of life outside the home, so it’s easy to forget the importance of a healthy life within the home. A healthy, vibrant family can offer so much to our personal and ministry lives. Investing in family should be a priority if we want to do ministry well. My wife’s lack of involvement in my ministry allows us to invest our energies in strengthening our family and doing ministry outside of our jobs. We serve in ministry as a vocation, but we also find creative ways to serve together in settings where we’re not the leaders. These times allow us to be a family that serves together as a way of life rather than one that chooses to value one person’s job over the other.
Tanner Cooper-Risser regularly blogs at thoughtsfromdust.blogspot.com and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.