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What I Wish I’d Known about Marriage and Ministry


Most married couples would say if asked, “We’re All In” but are we? Every leader reading this doesn’t do what we’re doing in ministry halfway or even three-quarters of the way. We give it all. We say, “God could you use me? Could you use us, to reach the world?”

Here’s my challenge: Are you all in? Here’s what I’ve found out about marriage and ministry, I’ve found that having a great marriage in ministry is really hard. Honestly, having a great marriage in ministry is really rare.

What I Wish I’d Known about Marriage and Ministry

Does your marriage come before your ministry?

Here’s the truth, every one of us, I bet you would say we know what God says about marriage. If I open the Word of God, and say, “What does God think of marriage? What’s God’s priority in terms of our life, is marriage before ministry?”

Every one of us would say, “Yep marriage is before ministry.” You go back to Genesis 2, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united…they become one flesh.” It’s the first institution that God gives in the garden. It’s not the church, not ministry, it’s marriage. Marriage is the foundation of anything God’s going to do on planet Earth.

What is your marriage and ministry built on?

Jesus says, “Anyone who hears these words of mine…” We preach this but do we put it into practice? We teach about a wise man who built his house on the rock. Everybody in this room can say that statement. And the storms come, and the winds are going to blow, and that house is going to stand because it’s built on Jesus the Rock.

But what about the one who hears God’s Word and doesn’t put it into practice? He’s a fool and the storms come and they crash and cause damage. There’s a lot of foolishness in ministry. We do ministry really well, right? We think our marriage and our family are secondary and God says, “No, your ministry is secondary. Your marriage and your family is to be FIRST.”

A great marriage requires making hard choices.

If you’re going to make your marriage and family a priority, you have to make some hard choices. We don’t often do this. You have to make hard choices. You have to say, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to have a great marriage.” Ministry should be second.

We had a policy on our staff, if your marriage is in trouble, you don’t have to come to any meeting. You stay home (now, we often didn’t do it) but we had that policy—your marriage matters—your kids matter—stay home; go to a conference; go to retreat; do whatever it takes. Lose your marriage, and you lose your ministry.

If your ministry is not coming out of an overflow of love from your own home, you’ve got a lot of work to do.

We had a local broadcaster, come to Christ and actually came on our staff. He said, and I’ll never forget, “The whole key to being a TV broadcaster is sincerity….and when you learn to fake that, you got it made.” The moment I heard that I thought, isn’t that what we do in ministry?  We fake it.

As a guitar player and an average singer, I can get up and cover a song, with no problem. But lead worship? You can’t fake it. If it’s not from an overflow, the whole room can smell it. Worship, teaching, preaching, leading…you can reach men for Christ, but if it isn’t coming out of an overflow in your own home you have work to do.

Portions of this post originally appeared at our annual Fatherhood Summit for family and fatherhood leaders.