Every vocation provides challenges to marriage. Whether it is the demand of long hours, the accumulation of stress from on the job conflict, or the schedule disorienting impact of shift work, marriage is impacted by any and every field of employment.
Pastoral ministry presents challenges, too. Unique challenges.
Whether you are married and considering pastoral ministry or an unmarried pastor who is thinking about taking the plunge, it is better to be prepared for these challenges than to be surprised by them.
If you are ready for a wild ride into the wonderfully surreal world of “the ministry marriage,” let’s look at eight challenges you will face along the way.
NOTE: My ecclesiastical tradition reserves the pastoral role for males. If your context allows women to serve as pastors, just substitute husband for wife, or whatever fits your context.
Challenge #1 — Ministry and Marriage May Become Unseen Rivals
The best rivalries between athletic programs are those where both teams are really good. However, if one side dominates the other year after year, then the rivalry isn’t nearly as intense. But if both regularly vie for championships, not only is the game a big deal but recruiting becomes a year-round necessity.
I’ve heard of coaches who sleep at the office, eating, sleeping, and drinking football. It consumes every waking hour. With the pressure we place upon coaches with expectations of wins, I understand the temptation to install a cot in the film room.
Whatever professional rivalry may exist in his life as a coach, there is an unseen rivalry that exists between his job and his marriage.
The same thing may happen in a ministry marriage. A pastor may not set up a cot in the church office, but he very well may give other signals that communicate his priority is job success rather than marriage success.