Freedom and Influence for the Spouse Not on Staff
The Unique Challenges of Husband and Wife Ministry
I was less than a week away from my wedding day when my fiancé tied the notorious marriage ball and chain to my ankle. He nonchalantly stated, “Oh, I meant to tell you we have to come back early from our honeymoon because I need to stop and do a wedding in St. Louis on the way home.” I had no words. He may as well have announced: “Welcome to the ministry. You are now married to the whole church.” Admittedly, my heart sank, but before I completely drowned, God rescued me with a fresh perspective, and has since continued to keep my heart at bay. Here are two provoking thoughts for spouses who aren’t on staff:
You have freedom.
Be at peace that you don’t have to carry the load while you are supporting your spouse in the ministry. Yes, you are a team. Yes, you need to go on the journey together. Yes, you need to encourage one another. And yet, God has called some people to a role that is different than their spouse’s role, who is in vocational ministry. Freedom to not do everything the church staff leaders do does not mean you aren’t in unity or “on board.” Conversely, it means you have the freedom to do what God is calling you to do in the manner He has for you and your family. You can be wholehearted and still have freedom.
For us, after the honeymoon, the most loving gift I could give my husband was to support what he thought was right. I wasn’t responsible for actually leading the wedding. I didn’t need to prepare a message, have the right outfit, attend the rehearsal, or connect with the wedding family. I had freedom to not be him and that was a good thing for both of us. He desired for me to be me, and simply come alongside what he needed to do.
You have influence.
In the midst of your freedom, ask God the “how, what, and when” for areas you can influence. You may not be on staff, but you can contribute major assets to the church ministry. How does God want you to be involved? What would that look like on a weekly basis? When is the best season of life to do those things? Jump in and help with any gifts you have to offer, as God leads you. You can be valued and useful for the Kingdom even if you don’t hold a position.
For those who have young children, raising a family while your spouse leads in ministry is influence! As our family grew with children, learning how I could influence the ministry, aside from being home with sick kids, stepping out of service to discipline a child, or sitting in the nursing mothers room, required me to see the value in the work I was doing to build our family. Many people are impacted when they see a healthy, functioning family that is living out a biblical model of caring for each other. If more is needed from you, recruit help so you aren’t alone or overwhelmed with both the church and the family.
Ultimately, God values all of us, whether we are on staff or not. He also blesses couples who work together in the unique plans He has for them. It may look differently for every family, but for those of us who are joined in matrimony to someone who is leading, the ministry doesn’t have to be a ball and chain. Freedom and influence are ours!