Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"And Two Become One Flesh" (A Spouse's Call to Ministry)

A few months back I was sitting with a fellow youth ministry veteran.  We were meeting for the first time.  I had heard of him and had read his books, so I was intrigued to hear his story.  He was similar age to myself and similar in years of experience.

We did the usual swapping of battle stories and sharing of the ministry journeys from state to state and church to church.  We seemed to mirror each other in so many ways.  I loved to hear his long term passion and goal to keep on doing youth ministry.

Then came the inevitable family and marriage questions.  The usual "how long have you been married?" and "how many kids do you have?"  About this point in my conversations I usually nervously share how much my wife is involved and her calling to youth ministry as my "co-worker" and "partner".  This is usually followed by an awkward silence or a weird look, as the person across the table explains to me why their spouse is not involved and that it is not her/his calling.  This time around however, it was different.  The first time in a long time, he began to explain his wife calling and role in his ministry over the years. 

Like a breath of fresh air after sitting in a stale stuffy room for a long time, I just sat and listened.

The night before, my wife and I had been talking about her role and how different it was from the role of many of the wives she had been recently connecting with through her ministry working with an organization to encourage pastor's wives.

As we talked a verse had struck me "...and two become one flesh..." (Mark 8:10).   It was what we had talked about relationally and sexually in our pre-marriage counseling.   It is paralleled to the original passage Genesis 2:24, connected to the idea of God creating a "help-meet" for Adam to do the work in the garden.  The thing is..

I don't think I have ever heard it talked about in connection to a husband's calling to ministry.

As pastors, especially youth pastor's if our wives/spouses is our "one flesh", why is it that so many of us are not serving together?   Why are we not allow our wives/spouses to serve with us, as our "help-meet"?

Is it because the modern church has moved to a more business, job, vocational,.... view of our role.   "People don't take their wives with them to work" I  have heard people say to me.   In recent years, I have heard the "it is not a 2 for 1" as an excuse for why a wife is not involved.  All of which I understand.  My wife and I often share with many who are younger in ministry, there are "seasons" of marriage, when you children make it more difficult.  We are not discounting that or even being unrealistic.

We have also however counseled each young, single or soon to be married youth pastor, that "a spouse will make you or break you in ministry".  If a spouse is not called to it, it is going to be difficult.

After sitting with another 20+ lifer in youth ministry hearing his heart and also of his wife's heart for long-term youth ministry, I am just wondering if I am missing something from the Biblical equation...


1 flesh + 1 flesh = 2 + marriage = 1 flesh? What about when it comes to those of us in ministry?  

1 comment:

  1. This is a huge area of struggle for my marriage. Having your spouse on board with your calling, I believe, is paramount to having a successful ministry. I have noticed that us youth pastors try to convince our spouse to be involved without them maybe wanting to and it is done out of obligation rather than calling, which can cause frustration and turmoil in the home. I have come to realize that I need to be praying for my spouse to have a desire to be involved, not help me because I need someone to fill in the gap. Still in the process of backing away to let God do His thing.

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