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“My Marriage is Hurting My Ministry”

This is a repost of part of a  series based on anonymous questions we have received at Build Your Marriage conferences across the United States. Some details may be modified to protect the identities of individuals.

How do you handle life when it seems like your marriage or spouse keeps you from fulfilling the great commission/God’s calling on your life?

This is a question we run into rather frequently. Sadly, we’ve seen couples separate and divorce over this issue.

You may be quite frustrated because you believe God has given you a ministry or a burning desire to make a kingdom impact, but your spouse is resistant to your pursuit of your “calling.” Perhaps from your perspective your spouse is keeping you from being fully obedient to Jesus. As a result, you feel torn.

We appreciate the spirit of the question. Your heart is to put Jesus first and serve him. Here are four things to keep in mind if you feel hindered from ministry because of your spouse:

1. God’s first concern

God is more concerned with who you become than what you do for him in public ministry. Have you considered that  perhaps he is using this “ministry frustration” to surface character and attitude issues in you that need to be addressed? Anger, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness can all show themselves in your situation. Focus on who you are becoming and grow in the characteristics of the Holy Spirit in your life (see Galatians 5:22-23).

2. Your first calling

When you got married, your spouse became your first calling. You are to create and maintain a relationship that is nurturing, loving, and caring. If your ministry isn’t working at home, it isn’t going to work anywhere.

Ask God how you can better fulfill your calling to your spouse. You can be assured that His Spirit will gently reveal things to you as you consistently pray that prayer.

3. Your spouse’s perspective

Here are some penetrating questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the underlying reasons why my spouse is “keeping me” from pursuing what I believe to be my calling? Have you asked him/her?
  • Have I been willing to sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry? (If so, go back to our second point about your first calling.)
  • Have I focused so much on others I have been neglecting my spouse? What would he/she say?
  • Am I spiritualizing domestic neglect?
  • Has ministry become an escape from home for me?
  • Could it be that my spouse doesn’t see the same level of gifting that I believe I have? (i.e. You believe you have a great voice for singing, but…?)
  • Have I allowed spiritual pride to take root where I believe my spouse is “less spiritual” than me?

4. Your next step

Trust God, focus on your spouse, and lay the “calling” on the altar.  God may want to use this as a redirection toward a different expression of your gifts or calling. Pray about it and see where God leads you.

  • Perhaps your calling will be to start a blog to reach people for Christ.
  • Maybe your focus will move toward a ministry of intercession.
  • You might turn to writing a book as an expression of your ministry.
  • If you have gifts of craftsmanship, you may end up making things at home that can fulfill a ministry purpose.

God will direct you.

Follow God’s promptings when you can and respectfully serve him when you’re able. Work through these four steps and you will experience greater joy with your spouse, deeper purpose in life, and you will build your marriage.