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Marriage and Ministry

by Sis. Bonita Sumner


What about ministry suppressing marriage? Maybe a couple married before they were saved, and now he's a preacher but she has no talent, no calling and her heart isn't in this ministry that her husband has?

One of the greatest reasons for which God created us was to help our husbands. This is a special God-given role! What a responsibility that we have been given as Godly wives. Now, this idea is totally contrary to the humanistic idea of equal rights. In His divine wisdom, God created women to help fulfill the needs in our husband's life. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18) As a divinely ordained help-meet, the wife has been given the unique role of being the sole fulfiller of her husbands’ needs. There are many examples of practical ways in which we can help our husbands; being an attentive listener, an encourager in the difficult times, never putting him down, refraining from speaking negatively of his decisions. Yes, sometimes our husband will make mistakes, but it is our role to encourage and pray for him daily and support him wholeheartedly in his life and ministry.

“Wherefore, they are no more twain, but one flesh. What God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 9:16) When we unite in marriage, we become one flesh; this automatically places our husband as the head of our home. We are to submit to our husbands as he is the spiritual leader, realizing that as the head of our house he must give an account not only for himself but for his family. I believe in discussing situations and decisions that have to be made, but ultimately the husband has the responsibility to make the final decision based on how he feels God is directing him. Ladies, your husband has a great obligation in making decisions that will draw his family closer to God, his choice will affect not only him but his family, co-workers, and ministry. In many situations, his decisions will have eternal effects on those with whom he comes in contact.

If your husband is called into some form of ministry, you are automatically called to that ministry. Remember, we are one flesh. God does not call us separately! God will have a place for you! You may feel you don’t have special abilities or talents, such as singing or playing an instrument so, therefore, how can you minister? There are undoubtedly many wives who have been blessed with musical gifts and talents, yet those are not the only ways in which God has for us to minister. Sometimes we minister to others by praying in the altars, being a listening ear, giving Godly advice, visiting the shut-ins, teaching a class, cleaning the church, or organizing church activities. At times I have been discouraged and felt I really didn’t have much to add to my husband’s ministry, especially in the work with the military. While at the airport one day, I was approached by an officer’s wife. She and her husband were in the process of getting a divorce, which she did not want. She didn’t feel free to talk with my husband, so I talked and prayed with her. A short time later, God gloriously restored their marriage. I am nothing but God allowed me the opportunity to be a listening ear to someone in need. Have I ever felt that the ministry took away from our family time? Yes, but I look around and see the lives God has saved and touched through our ministry…. Lives that might never have known of God’s saving grace if we had not been completely surrendered to God’s will in our marriage and ministry.

But, in the midst of all our responsibilities as a minister’s wife, our first and foremost responsibility is ministering to the needs in our home. Our husband needs our full support in the ministry God has placed him in, and our children need the example and guidance of a Godly mother who is fully surrendered to God’s will. This may not always be seen or recognized by others, but our family is our greatest ministry and our highest calling. God has not called us to save the world and yet lose our family, it is imperative that we don’t lose sight of the importance of our calling in being a wife and mother. “You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, training them up in God’s fear, minding the house, and making your household a church for God as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts.” (Charles Spurgeon)

As wives, the support of our husbands’ ministry greatly influences his success as well as the outcome of our family. When my husband and I were first married, we had some good friends. They were both talented and active in their local church. The husband was called to preach and felt God leading them to evangelize. After their marriage, she lived across the street from her mother and spent most of her time with her mother; as a result, she was unwilling to leave the comforts of home and the closeness of family to follow her husband to fulfill his call in the ministry. Without the complete support of his wife to begin evangelizing, the couple continued in their local church. The years passed by and by this time the husband was completely out of church, their daughter gave them untold heartache and problems to the point where her mother was heard saying that she hated her own daughter. To my knowledge, neither of their children are currently serving the Lord, and the husband died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack after being backslidden for over 20 years. I have often wondered how different their lives may have been if the wife had simply been willing to wholeheartedly support her husband in his calling, laying aside her personal desires to follow Gods will in their lives. I cannot say that all would have been picture perfect, but I genuinely believe that a different story would have been written for their family.

It isn’t just our husband surrendering to the call of God, but we must be willing to surrender ourselves completely. If our goals are not the same as our husbands, we must take this to the Lord in prayer until we are able to surrender all our will to Him fully. I met my husband Scott while living in Mexico as the daughter of missionaries; he had been raised on the missionary evangelistic field. Shortly after we met, my family returned to the United States, and after a few years, we were married. In time, we felt God leading us to minister in Honduras. I don’t believe I had ever considered that we would live in a foreign country as my husband’s family had only made extended trips to the mission field. Following the leading of the Lord, we headed to Honduras with many unanswered questions, one of the greatest being where we would live. As the daughter of missionaries I knew life in another country would be very different, but honestly, I do not ever remember questioning my husband’s decision to go. I knew there was a possibility we would live in a thatched roof house with dirt floors and no electricity, the Lord provided for us, and that was not necessary. Yet, I feel like if those things had been required, we would have been willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to go where God was leading. Have I ever questioned or disagreed with my husband’s decision? Yes! Yet many times I could look and see that what I wanted or felt he should do was not the best decision.

By selfishly holding onto our will and desires, we will never find true happiness in our lives. Surrendering our all to the Lord and coming to the place God desires is where the voids in our lives are filled, and we find true happiness. Unless we are fully surrendered to the Lord, bitterness, and resentment will build in our hearts at the times when ministry situations take first place. Submitting to our husband and devoting ourselves to honor him is not a popular idea, even in our churches. I see Christian wives who are not willing to surrender their will to God and as a result do not submit and support their husbands. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24) We have the power to make or break our husband, as it is said; “behind every good or successful man is a good woman.” Working together as God has ordained is the strength of our marriage and ministry. It is the key to true and lasting happiness.

We are a precious gift from God to our husbands. Are we being the wife God has called us to be? Are we embracing our role as a helpmeet or are we running from it? “She will do him (her husband) good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12)

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