Balancing Your Marriage and Your Ministry
Donna Patterson | Co-Lead Pastor | The Father’s House | Vacaville, CA
How do you balance marriage and ministry?
Planting a church, building a family, and keeping the passion in your marriage is no small task! Marriage is to reflect Christ and the church. Jesus sacrificially gave His life for us, loving us unconditionally. You never really feel qualified or prepared for any of it, but God can redeem your mistakes. He will give you the wisdom to recognize how to give your attention to what is most important for the season that you’re in.
I remember the pressure of having a young family while planting our church. In the early days, we were doing just about everything from taking care of the little ones to hosting church meetings in our home. I felt stretched thin. However, even then, God’s presence was with us, filling us with passion and giving us strength!
When trying to navigate marriage and ministry with your time, think of it more like a blending of the two rather than a balancing act. Don’t try to juggle your time equally between marriage and ministry, because on any given day, it will often seem like one is getting more attention than the other. This is our everyday life, not just what we do on the weekends. I remember sitting outside of church meetings because our girls were too young, or staying at home to nurse a sick child, all the while wishing I could do more to help my husband with all that was on our plate. Know that family is critically important to God and so is His Kingdom. When God calls one, He also calls the family! When your marriage needs attention, or your children require all your care, that is what’s important! Never apologize or feel guilty about giving your family more passion and energy, even at the perceived expense of neglecting ministry opportunities! The truth is, if we neglect our primary call of what happens in our homes and private lives, then it really doesn’t matter what is accomplished in the light of the public platform.
Your ministry and marriage doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s! The challenges we face enlarge our capacity and grow us. You’re still a wife, you’re still a mother, you’re still a pastor whether you’re at the office, standing on a stage, or doing laundry and cleaning the house. All of it is important to God, even the messy and seemingly unimportant parts. Believe me when I say, it is worth the fight! As a family, we have made a clear decision to build a great church for our community, and we will do whatever it takes to accomplish that task.
Never forget that God is for you. He called you, and it is an honor and joy to be involved in His Kingdom. We are blessed in this season to have our grown daughters and their spouses on staff with us. I am blessed to have my grandsons and hopefully future granddaughters right here with us. Our children are witnessing what God is doing in bringing about things that were only prophetic prayers and seeds in our hearts years ago. Now those prayers and dreams are coming to fruition.
Following are five practical ways to do marriage and ministry better:
- Invest time and energy into your marriage.
That is, put your date night on the calendar. If it’s not on the calendar, it probably won’t happen. Make connecting a priority! We need conversation and quality time to share and dream together. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money. Think of creative ways to spend time doing something fun. Go on a bike ride, hike a trail, or climb a mountain. Fresh air can help clear the mind and inspire you. Also, schedule a family fun day. We want our kids to know they are important and that life in ministry can be fun too.
- Have a regular body and soul check-up.
Full time ministry, marriage, and family can wear down our emotional and spiritual tanks. The word says to stay alert and be ready. We must stay infused with God’s fire, which takes intentionality. Remind yourself why you married your spouse. What were the qualities in them that drew you to them? Remember the high call on your life. That passionate calling that you started with that was willing to give it all up to run after God. This will benefit your husband, your family, and your church.
- Guard your heart.
I probably don’t have to tell you that people will place their unmet expectations on you. You didn’t love me, call me, ask me, invite me, say hi to me. Trying to keep up with what others expect can cause you to do things God hasn’t called you to do. Jealousy, gossip – yes, even in ministry – can trip you up. Don’t give these words and wounds a place in your heart. Protect and keep the soil offense free. The Word says, everything we do flows out of our heart. Don’t allow bitterness or unresolved issues to have a place to grow. The enemy’s job is to cause division between you and your husband. He wins when we think things can’t be resolved or changed. Bring it under Christ. If you know God has called you to that city, to build that church, to raise an amazing family, don’t let what the enemy has planned stop it. God can keep everything that is submitted to Him. It’s only His opinion that matters.
- Enjoy your season.
Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy life and be grateful where God has you. Don’t be in a hurry. God won’t let you miss an opportunity when you are seeking Him. I think ambition can be good, just don’t let it be the driver. Trust that what God starts He also finishes. His timing is perfect. If you are not in the place you are longing to be, then perhaps there is still some work to be done in your heart and character in this season. The process is God perfecting and preparing. There are precious treasures hidden in the ground you are walking on now. Don’t miss them!
- Don’t forget who the enemy is.
In other words, don’t let the ministry or the church become the enemy. Your perspective is everything. Don’t let resentment be your confession. The church is God’s idea. Our life and calling are because of the church. Watch out for the potentially harmful and negative conversations that can fill our homes. This won’t bring the outcome God wants. Just remember, God has called you, He chose you, and you are wired for this! These words from the Apostle Paul apply to you, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord. He has given me the strength for my work because He knew that He could trust me.” 1 Timothy 1:12 (CEV)
Let’s continue to invest our lives in what Jesus gave His for, the church. We can have strong marriages and great families while building churches that shape the spiritual atmospheres of our cities!