One of the saddest realities that I didn’t expect when I surrendered my life to vocational ministry was the predominance of crappy marriages that marked many pastors. I discovered that many of these marriages were basically business relationships masquerading as God-honoring covenants. I remember thinking in my head and saying to my wife, “How could these people be so hypocritical? How could they live this way?” This went on for many years. My judgmentalism ceased when my wife and I planted The Journey.
“My wife and I had a good marriage, but the truth is that ministry loves to get right between lovers.”
Pastoring in general and church-planting pastoring, specifically, puts a strain on even the best marriages. My wife and I had a good marriage, but the truth is that ministry loves to get right between lovers. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Ministry vies to be a mistress. Let me give you two simple points to encourage you to love your wife in the midst of planting a church.
Be a Christian.
Remember that you are a son before you are a servant. It is great that you love to use your gifts, but remember God gave his Son to you as a gift. Labor to hear HIS voice of affirmation over praise for your ministry skills. Obey God fully and for the right reasons, which will help you love your wife well. Being motivated by the gospel of grace enables you to repent more deeply. Husband and wives who understand how great their sin is before God will have a lot easier time forgiving each other. Husbands and wives, if you look for your acceptance more from God than each other, you won’t be looking for it from your attendance and offering numbers. You can get the gospel without marriage, but you can’t really get marriage without the gospel.
Be a Husband.
All of the energy that you have toward initiating, pursuing, and strategizing for the mission of God through the church you lead should be an outgrowth of your marriage. Don’t waste all of your entrepreneurial spirit on the church! Let it spill over to the wife of your youth.
“You can get the gospel without marriage, but you can’t really get marriage without the gospel.”
The purpose of marriage is to reenact what Jesus has done and is doing in your life and in the life of your spouse. As a husband leads, he puts on display the kind of loving leadership Jesus wants to exercise over the church. As a wife submits, she puts on display the kind of surrendered trust that Christ wants back from his church
Wear yourself out ensuring your marriage closely resembles Christ’s love for the Church and the Church’s love for Christ. The more you understand the gospel and embrace your role as husband, the better you will lovingly lead your dear wife.
Darrin Patrick is the Vice President of Acts 29 and the Founder & Lead Pastor of The Journey in St. Louis, Missouri.