Married to Ministry #MarriageMinistry

This post is a part of a series Rob Rash has organized titled #MarriageMinistry focused on how to navigate being married while being in vocational church ministry.

It was a Tuesday evening. 5pm. I walk in the house through the garage door and enter into the kitchen to find my wonderful wife slaving away in the kitchen. This was the first night in close to two weeks we’d been together for an evening at home.

I said to Rose, “long time no see. How are you?”

It was one of those questions that wasn’t filled with love, it was one of desperation. I could have said, “do I even know you?”

The previous weekend Rose was gone on a retreat, and all of the nights in the previous week were filled with church ministry, work, and homework for us. In to bed far too late and up early to tackle the next day that would not involve me seeing the whites of my wife eyes. We had not spent more than 5 minutes together in close to 2 weeks. In some ways we have gotten used to this because it’s become more common as time has gone on.

How could I say no to a family who needed me to be involved in a memorial service? How could I slack on the necessary time I needed to spend in study for class? When a book deadline is weeks away, it has to be a priority right? Many weeks there’s no easy way to make time for Rose. But those two weeks had been especially hard. In the battle between ministry and marriage, marriage was taking a lot of punches.

My few years of being in vocational church ministry have quickly taught me that it’s often easier to be married to ministry than it is to be married to my wife. Walking down this path gets not only my marriage into a mess, but all my priorities are quickly thrown into disarray at the same time. Becoming married to ministry also directs my affections toward a job rather than to the God who provides both the marriage and the ministry.

Many weeks the demands of people needing to talk, programs to be prepared for, and a connection with God to be cultivated leaves little time for me to enjoy marriage. Marriage often becomes more work and duty than love and bliss.

Rose and I have been diligent about setting aside at least one night (sometimes two) a week where we have no agenda but spending time together. It’s so easy to lose our grip on this agenda. Things come up, events get scheduled, family birthdays take place…it’s easy to lose the importance of just being together consistently. Is it worth fighting for? Often we never realize the grip on our marriage is slowly fading until it all comes crashing down.

I’m grateful to have parents who have navigated many years of marriage while always being involved in vocational church ministry. I’m grateful to the many other pastors, professors, and leaders who serve the church diligently and still remain faithful to their wives and kids by giving them the first fruits of their time and energy. These men are a guideposts in my life, pointing in a direction I continue to seek after.

Marriage in ministry isn’t easy. The important things never are.

How have you navigated being married through the pressures and struggles of life? What are your secrets to success?

Happy Birthday to my wonderful wife Rose. Couldn’t have found a better person to go through life with.