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The choice

Keziah has a new post on the ministry, titled He Commanded our Fathers to Teach. Keziah discusses further the benefits of being a ministry family. In the comments section she mentioned that she wonders if an unmarried woman can feel "called" to be a minister's wife. I think this issue may have come from my post on the pressures of ministry where I wrote that "it would be important to consider the particular pressures of ministry and whether you are called to that role before marrying someone who is headed in that direction."

The use of the word "called" in this context was a poor choice. "Called" is a term liable to be misunderstood. It is often used in the context of people who feel that God has spoken to them directly with regard to a particular life path. I did not mean this in the context in which I used the word. What I meant was simply that a woman should consider her God-given personality, gifts, and inclinations. God has not given all of us the gifts and internal resources it takes to fulfill particular roles. A woman considering a lifetime of marriage to a minister needs to count the cost of her decision beforehand.

The fact that Satan puts many perils in the paths of those who devote themselves to full time Christian service should not deter anyone from following this path, as long as they have seriously considered those perils and believe that God has gifted them with the maturity to withstand the trials and temptations that come with the job. To enter full time ministry without considering these difficulties could be a sign of pride and immaturity.

It could also be a sign of immaturity to want to avoid the job solely on the basis that it is difficult. I have been guilty of this type of immaturity at times. Our goal in life should be to have God's word shape our thinking in every area. God's vision for ministry is very different to the situations we often see around us. Knowledge about the challenges minister's face should be used as a tool to help them avoid pitfalls, and achieve what God wants, not as a reason to avoid the difficulties of ministry. As
Phil has noted, where there is suffering for Christ there is also joy.


Keziah  – (February 8, 2007 at 11:18 AM)  

Sherrin - never fear, you were not to blame for that question!!!

Over coffee one night last week, a few friends were discussing these sorts of issues. A girlfriend of mine, who is single, was wondering whether she could be called to be a minister's wife even though she is not married to a minister? She really does feel that "God has spoken to [her] directly with regard to a particular life path".

I'm not sure what I think about that though, so I threw it open to everyone else! Given that background, what do you think now?

Sherrin  – (February 8, 2007 at 12:24 PM)  

Oh, I am glad that my choice of words was not to blame for your question!! I did write my original post in a hurry, and later realised it was the wrong phrase!

I would not want to entirely rule out the possibility that God has spoken to your friend. However, as a general principle I would say it is unwise to come to such conclusions. Our feelings/impressions can lead us in all kinds of directions which are not healthy. For example, some people get a strong impression (which they believe is from God) that a particular person is the "right one" for them. This is without reference to whether or not that person displays an interest in them. Then, if the person marries someone else they feel they have missed out on the "right one".

My view on guidance is that God generally leads us through his word and the invisible workings of providence. In regard to life vocation, providence is partly evident through the gifts God has given particular people.

Personally, I would only find it necessary to consider whether or not I was meant to marry a minister if I was considering a romantic relationship with one :). I would not want to have a set idea in my mind that I should marry a man who had a particular job.

However, sometimes God does work in unusual ways . . . and perhaps your friend is "called" to marry a minister!

Keziah  – (February 9, 2007 at 6:47 AM)  

That is the exactly the sort of thing I said to her. I can understand the desire to have that sort of relationship and family with all the benefits and joys of it we have been speaking about, but I am not sure it can extend to being called to be a minister's wife in the absence of a minister husband!

Does that mean if she marries someone who does not go into the ministry that she has married the "wrong one"? Will she reject perfectly suitable men on the basis that they are not ministers?

I think all of us, wherever we end up though, can use our womanly calling to offer hospitality, mentoring, friendship, and share some of the (I don't want to use this word as it has bad connotations but equally I think our ministers' wives are expected to do so much more than anyone else) burdens that they face.

Always a pleasure to chat with you!

John Dekker  – (February 9, 2007 at 10:42 AM)  

Yeah, I have heard of women who feel that they're called to marry a minister. I haven't met one myself, though...

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