Q: Is there ever a time when ministry should come before a marriage?

A: There are times when ministry exigencies require a temporary reprioritization of marital obligations. This should be expected in the often unpredictable realm of the pastorate. But, such challenges should be exceptions rather than the rule. Pastors must be diligent in putting a team of people in place that can respond to various ministry situations. This safeguard will help pastors consistently implement and honor their marital boundaries.

Q: What advice would you give a woman who feels called to ministry, but her husband does not share her vision?

A: My best advice is to be prayerful. I believe it is imperative that both spouses accept the call to ministry. The demands of ministry are so great that, if there is not unity in the calling, it can create fissures in the foundation of the marriage.

If God has truly called you to ministry, you must believe that your husband will accept it in time. Maybe your husband’s delay will prevent you from getting ahead of God’s timing. While you wait to see how God will speak to your husband, there are things that you can do to prepare yourself for your call. For example, you can attend seminary or take other classes, hold small fellowships, or broaden your ministerial network. Ultimately, I would not advise a wife to enter into the senior pastorate without her husband’s agreement. But, I would ask this couple to become intentional about how God might be shaping their respective interests, personalities, skills, and spiritual gifts to impact the kingdom as a couple.

Q: You often emphasize the importance of “covering” one’s spouse. What do you mean by that, and how does one do that?

A: Covering is best described as a sense of emotional attachment – a sense of belonging. The processes of petitioning and protecting are acts of covering. To cover means to advocate on behalf of our spouse. It means to protect them physically and emotionally. Colloquially it means, “I got your back.” I will not harm you. You are safe with me.

I encourage couples to become redemptive spouses. Being a redemptive spouse means that I show you grace, unconditional commitment, and agape love modeled after the relationship of Christ and the Church. It imbues trust, mutuality, and unselfishness. It is the centerpiece of authentic marriage.  c

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