Marriage and Ministry

A few days ago I talked with two ministers going through marital issues. One of them had been married for almost twenty years. His wife (a worship leader) recently divorced him because she felt he wasn’t providing for her. Although I respect this minister accepting responsibility for the marital failure, I thought he was being too hard on himself. For one thing, there was infidelity on his wife’s part. Nevertheless this man had taken on a secular job but knows he is supposed to be in full-time ministry. I reminded him of Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

I went through a similar situation fourteen years ago. One morning after we had been married for only a couple weeks, my then-wife insisted on us finding “stupid jobs” because we ran out of money. I reminded her we agreed to work for God and trust Him to meet our needs. Later that day I was offered a job at the Christian campground we were staying at. Unfortunately my wife stirred up additional conflicts and soon left me. Wanting to save my marriage, I resumed telemarketing work and also found an apartment in a town my wife said she wanted to live. That wasn’t enough to convince her to reconcile. She initiated an adulterous relationship with a former friend of mine (who didn’t have a job himself) and a few weeks later filed for divorce. The Lord told me to “let her go” and I returned to the mission field.

The other minister I talked to has been married now for almost two years. During that time he and his wife have gone through numerous separations including the time I met with him. Many of their conflicts have been over money. The wife had been the main breadwinner in their marriage. She earned a sizable income in the medical field while the minister received a fraction of that amount through donations. 

It’s true men have the responsibility to see their family’s needs are met (1 Timothy 5:8). Still if a woman chooses to marry a minister, she should be ready to accept the unique challenges that will come especially if her spouse travels a lot. I heard Rodney Howard-Browne’s wife Adonica point out they didn’t have their own home during the first fourteen years of their marriage. Still God provided places to stay for them and their three kids while conducting revival meetings in various cities. Answering the call to ministry comes with a price that is not always easy or convenient.  

Extra material possessions are nice to have but won’t guarantee a successful marriage. If a minister’s wife happens to earn more money than her spouse, she should never use that against him. Every man of God who is (or wants to be) married needs a helpmate who will faithfully encourage him to fulfill his calling.

“So Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.’ - Mark 10:29-30

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