#1 You should be married to do ministry or be in ministry.
Whoever came up with this statement? All during my seminary years, the professors told the guys, “Find a girl. Get married.” I never understood that. Yes, we can be stronger together, but together doesn’t always mean married. It could be together with a ministry team, co-worker, major support system or mentor.
There are many people in the Bible who seemed to have an impact in ministry without being married. Jesus included. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7, even went so far as to encourage the unmarried and widows to stay that way. He connects that to how God has uniquely gifted and called us as individuals; not necessarily as couples.
#2 If you are married, you should be in ministry with your spouse.
Again, I’m not sure how this myth came about, although I’ve heard it throughout my career. Life is ministry. We are all called to be “ministers” to one another. Whatever my work or career is, it should also be a vehicle for me to “do” ministry such as loving others, being a light, speaking truth, showing compassion and acting differently than the world. I never worked in the same office with my husband, so we didn’t “do” ministry together.
Vocational ministry can also require a spouse to work in that ministry without the direction or input from the other spouse. Although a pastor or ministry leader/director might enjoy the support and prayers and time given by a supportive spouse, that spouse is not paid nor acknowledged as being in that ministry.
We are gifted to minister, to serve. That does not always mean my spouse is gifted or passionately drawn to the same ministries. We serve Christ and that can look a million different ways. (See Biblical stories of Esther, Deborah and Peter)
#3 Your husband is your first priority.
Your husband should have a place of priority in your life but that doesn’t always work out in reality. Sometimes your ministry work needs to take first place for a while. Sometimes a sick child takes priority. Sometimes another family member might need to move to #1 for a time. Sometimes you might need to quit neglecting yourself or your health and move yourself up the line of importance. God’s place in your life, however, should be a priority that runs through all of life’s challenges.
#4 Your kids are your first priority.
See #3! If we have kids, they are definitely a priority, but many people today put them on a pedestal of importance that even kids can’t handle. They do not always need 100% of your attention, money, entertainment or mental energy. Children are a gift of the Lord, but not given as objects of worship or an excuse to neglect spouse, self or others. They are a part of your earthly ministry, so raise them well and always point them to God, but if God has additional ministry for your to do, pay attention to that and figure out how to love and serve others – in addition to your kids.
#5 You take care of God’s work and He’ll take care of your family.
If you have decided to marry and have a family, guess what? That has become part of God’s work for you. You cannot leave your family at the altar of ministry and expect God’s blessing or an easy life (1 Timothy 5:8). You are in a partnership with God to care for your family. Do what God has called you to do if you work in a ministry, but be prepared for it to take more intentionality, better time management, unceasing prayers, growing patience and deeper trust on your part to care well for your family. Choosing a life of full-time ministry and full-time family is not for the weak or selfish. It takes more than you ever expected to give. And God will walk alongside you and give you courage and wisdom to accomplish all He has planned for you. But, He won’t do it all for you less you become unnecessary!
Stay tuned for five more myths regarding Marriage, Mommying and Ministry.