Ministry While Married
God’s original intention when creating a husband and a wife, was to make them be one flesh, and in doing so, reflect Him.
The Bible says that we are created in the image and likeness of God.
So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.Genesis 1:27
Each one has certain characteristics that are not complete without the other spouse. But, together, God can use them powerfully for His purpose.
Scripture shows us examples of different couples who served God’s purpose together.
- When Adam and Eve were created, they were given the task to rule over the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28)
- When Mary was given the assignment to raise Jesus, Joseph came alongside her to accomplish that purpose. (Matthew 1)
- Aquila and Priscilla were a great example of a married couple faithfully doing ministry together. (1 Corinthians 16:19)
We see in their stories that they were always together—not one, without the other.
It is very normal, healthy, and even scriptural for couples to serve together.
Truths About Serving Together
Roles in Marriage Based on Scripture
Couples must agree on God’s roles for their marriage before they can serve God with their marriage.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?Amos 3:3
If you want to serve God with your marriage, you have to agree on a fundamental level with what God says about your roles. In the beginning, Adam was created first and Eve was formed from Adam’s rib to be his helpmate. They were perfect before sin.
However, after the fall of mankind, even though Eve fell in sin first, God held Adam responsible. Since then, we see that God continues to hold men responsible for certain aspects of the relationship.
But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.1 Corinthians 11:3
God holds men responsible for providing, protecting, and spiritually leading their families. This does not mean that men are better or smarter than women. It simply means that God assigned particular roles to each spouse.
We see an example of this in the Trinity–the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Although they are equal, they have different roles. In Scripture, we see how Jesus fully submitted to the Father on the earth.
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.Luke 22:42
We also see the unity of Jesus and the Father when He said they are one.
I and the Father are one.John 10:30
We also see this when He explained that He cannot do anything without the Father.
Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.John 5:19
When spouses do not understand the roles defined in the outline of Scripture, the foundation of their marriage is at risk.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.Ephesians 5:22-23
If they then try to walk into ministry without living under the roles that God intended for them, they are in danger of walking in control, abuse, manipulation, and domination.
In many instances, the wife may try to surpass her husband’s authority and may refuse to submit to him, by bringing a cultural understanding of what it means to be a woman. And likewise, the husband may try to bring his upbringing of abusive words and chauvinism into his marriage. Neither of these attitudes glorifies God.
These roles are meant to give us freedom as we submit to God. Even though a husband should love his wife as Christ loves the church, and a wife should submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ, we are also commanded to love one another (Romans 12:10), seek the best interest of each other (Philippians 2:3), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), be subject to one another (1 Peter 5:5), comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18), pray for one another (James 5:16), and bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
If the husband’s main role is to provide and protect, this does not mean that the wife cannot work. It simply means that the main weight of responsibility lies on the husband. He is supposed to lead the family closer to Christ. The wife is supposed to support her husband on that mission, as well as care for the home. While this is Biblical, this does not mean that a woman’s only job is to be a homemaker.
While spouses are equal in their value according to God, they have different functions in marriage.
Submitting to God’s design for your marriage will allow you both to serve more easily because you are walking together in agreement with Scripture. It is God’s Word that tells you who you are and what you are supposed to do–not culture.
Ministering to Your Spouse
Aside from roles, another key to success in ministering alongside your spouse lies in learning to minister to each other. Your first and foremost ministry is to your marriage. This does not mean your ministry should only be to your marriage, but it should flow out of your marriage to the world.
One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?1 Timothy 3:4-5
In this Scripture, we see the responsibility that lies on the man, to rule the home. If you don’t know how to care for your own home, you will struggle to care for the church. Your real ministry starts at home—not on the mission field or in the church. You can’t be effective in your ministry as a married couple until you turn your marriage into a place of ministry where you minister to each other.
Ministry Will Expose the Strength of Your Marriage
The ministry cannot be blamed for the failures of marriage. Marriages struggle because of the mistakes people make within those marriages. The ministry is not responsible for the success of your marriage, your decisions and your mistakes are!
We can’t blame the Garden of Eden for any marital problems Adam and Eve might have experienced, just like we can’t use it as reasoning for why one of their children killed the other.
The real problem was that they decided to disobey God. Mistakes that are made in marriage are inevitable. However, if we continue to minister without repenting and addressing those errors with our spouse, this will spill into our ministry.
It is important to be united because the ministry will put certain pressures and expose weaknesses in your marriage.
Ministry Gives Purpose
Doing ministry together with your spouse will give your marriage purpose.
The purpose of marriage is not marriage—it is ministry.
Some examples of ministry in marriage can include raising your children, loving your neighbor, teaching young people, helping orphans or widows, or going on mission trips. Each one’s ministry will be different—some are more evangelistic, teaching, and discipleship while others help to organize church events. Whatever your path is, that ministry is the purpose of your marriage.
When God created Adam and Eve, He blessed them and told them to be fruitful and multiply.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”Genesis 1:28
God wanted their marriage to produce children and He wanted their family to spread around the world and exercise dominion. This was their God-given assignment. The healthier your marriage is, the more ministry your marriage should be doing because you are an example—a beacon of light and an image of God to this world.
Positions in the Church and Purpose
Although a husband and wife may have different positions in the church, they should have the same purpose. Spouses should not be in competition with each other for the positions they hold in the local church.
We are all called, both husband and wife, to love people, love God, win souls, and make disciples.
We are all called to win souls and make disciples.
For the stay-at-home mom, the children that you are raising are your disciples and you have the ministry of discipleship. Even if you don’t have a role or a position in the church right now, do not think you are not doing ministry or that you are not fulfilling God’s plan for your life. Husbands and wives do not have to hold the same position in the church in order to have the same impact in the kingdom and to have the same purpose.
We need to be cautious that husbands and wives are not partaking in a variety of different church activities that then pull them away from seeing and spending time with each other.
Work Within Your Strengths and Support Each Other in Your Weaknesses
Marriages often fall apart because of irreconcilable differences. It’s important to understand that before marriage, opposites attract, but during the marriage, opposites attack.
Most likely the person you are married to is opposite to you in many areas, but this should complete you—not drive you crazy! This requires you to have a lot of humility, patience, and honor in order to encourage your spouse to work within their strengths while supporting them in the areas of weakness.
The husband has strengths that the wife does not have and vice versa. The Lord wants to teach you both different things through this process. By recognizing this and practicing humility, you’ll help each other while avoiding conflict.
We need to honor each other and understand that we both bring things to the table. We should live a life of repentance, active listening, and mutual understanding.
Slow Down Your Ministry to The Pace of Your Marriage
But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and herds which are nursing are with me. And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die. Please let my lord go on ahead before his servant. I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock that go before me, and the children, are able to endure until I come to my lord in Seir.”Genesis 33:13-14
For husbands, at times it can be easier to do things alone because they can do it quicker, but God did not call you to go on your own. He asked you to go with the pace of your wife and your children. You don’t want to be going so fast in ministry that you lose everybody and end up at your destination alone.
Slow down or speed up the pace of your ministry to the pace of your marriage. It may be better to do things less and have seemingly less “success” but do it with more people than to run so fast and lose your marriage and your health in the process.
Jesus never ran; He always walked. He walked so slow that hurting and sick people could catch up to Him. He used a donkey—a slow-walking animal, not a horse. Sometimes the pace and speed of our ministries can be extremely harmful to the health of our marriages.
Don’t Give God What Belongs to Your Spouse
If you don’t feel like you are getting support from your spouse either at home or in ministry, it does not necessarily mean that they are against you. Make sure you are not giving to God what belongs to your spouse. In the scriptures, Jesus rebuked children for not giving due honor to their parents, not designating a particular place to God so they didn’t have to honor their parents.
This is sinful and the same thing can be done in marriage. It is not wise if you are over-involved with every single church activity and never spend time with your spouse or children. They will resent ministry and not because they resent God, but because you are failing as a husband or a wife.
If you are never home and never spending time with your loved ones, you are not being obedient to Christ.
You are called to be a Christian first, then a minister.
Practical Tips for Ministry
For Husbands Wanting Their Wife to Join Them:
- Love Jesus more than her
- Introduce her to the church
- Keep her informed
- Seek her input
- Don’t hide things from her, unless you have to hold something confidentially
- Encourage her to build her passions as she pursuits the Lord
- Be generous with her
- Don’t penalize her for praying and seeking God differently than you do, or for being different than you
For a Wife Wanting to Strengthen Her Husband:
- Turn off the television
- Get your face off of social media
- Stop comparing your husband to someone else’s
- Sometimes, stop talking about your job, your kids, your day and just spend time ministering to your husband. You need time to vent, complain and share your heart, but set aside time just for your husband.
- Speak kind words to him—words of honor to him. Honor him
- Encourage him when things are rough and tough and when he is discouraged
- Use sex to change the emotional state of your husband so they can get their mind off of their problem
- Pray for your spouse on the spot and demonstrate that you care for him
- Acknowledge that he is trying his best and you know that
- Allow the Holy Spirit to be the enforcer of these things in your marriage
If you are serving together as a couple, keep on serving. If you fall on hard times, look to God for strength. If your ministry is struggling, find a safe haven in your marriage and continue to serve God.
May your marriage bring Jesus the glory He deserves and bring fame to His name!
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