According to an article on the website The Enrichment Journal, ministry and marriage may not be a good mix:
- 80 percent of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse and that ministry has a negative effect on their family.
- 33 percent say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
- 50 percent of pastors’ marriages end in divorce.
- 80 percent of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
While I can’t validate these stats (and would even argue with some of them), I know for sure that ministry can make marriage tougher than it already is. What causes this problem?
- Ministry is very stressful.
- Schedules can get overcrowded.
- Pastors must help other struggling marriages, even when their marriage is struggling.
- A pastor’s marriage is under the scrutiny of everyone in the church.
If you are not careful, ministry can damage or even destroy your marriage. While the list may be infinite, I have developed 8 ways that you can prevent this from occurring. Here we go
Don’t get too busy.
While leading a church is a very heavy responsibility and there will be times that your marriage suffers because of the weight, remember to take time for your wife. A scheduled time to be together is vitally important for your marriage to stay healthy. When someone requests your involvement during your scheduled time with your wife, a simple “I’m sorry, I have another appointment” will do wonders for your marriage.
Notice I did not say to work harder. We already work hard—we need to make better use of our work time. One culprit of wasted work time is social media. Yes, we communicate with church folks on Facebook, but discipline yourself to focus only on work while you are on ministry time. This will free up more personal time that you can invest in your family. It’s a matter of good stewardship of your time.
Practice what you preach.
The only thing worse than listening to a hypocritical preacher is when you are married to him. Your wife knows your every flaw—that makes preaching in front of her very difficult. Don’t be phony or embellish in ways that cause her to doubt your authenticity and spiritual integrity. Remember, you can fool the people, but you can’t fool God (or your wife).
Be nicer to your wife than you are to the members at your church.
It sends a terrible message to your wife if you are kind and patient with others but gruff and rude to her. Remember, she will be with you until death. Church members may leave you because they don’t like your hairstyle.
Don’t meet with a female alone.
This is a simple rule I have obeyed since day one of ministry. Always have your wife by your side when meeting with a woman. It prevents suspicion, innuendos, accusation, temptation…. Get the idea?
Tell your wife the minute you get a strange vibe from a woman.
Not every woman in the world is attracted to you, but some are. As caring individuals, pastors can become attractive to people who are not having their emotional needs met at home. If you get the slightest indication of flirtatious behavior from another woman, inform your wife. This will create a great protection against improper behavior.
When emergencies interrupt a family event, make it up.
Years ago, I cancelled a vacation with my wife because a man in our church had to appear in court. She was supportive of my decision. Later, that man quit coming to our church, but I can never make up that missed vacation with my wife. When emergencies interrupt plans, do your best to compensate quickly.
Always side with your wife in public, even when she is wrong.
This one may raise an eyebrow or two. If, in the very unlikely case that your wife is mistaken or wrong about something, never ever correct her in front of others and NEVER take sides against her in a public dispute. If she is wrong and if you disagree with her, discuss the matter privately. She will appreciate your public respect of her and this approach will create an opportunity for healthy conversation, rather than embarrassing her and putting her on the defensive.