There is no union so precious and so fruitful between husband and wife as that of holy devotion, in which they should mutually lead and sustain each other. - St. Francis de Sales, the Devout Life
A week ago my wife, Kate and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. I’m happy to say that our relationship is stronger than it was when we first got married. Granted, in the honeymoon phase nothing can go wrong, but then you have that first fight.
Just as it says in the St. Francis de Sales quote, “There is no union so precious and so fruitful…” but that union can get challenged, even in youth ministry. There will be times when youth ministry is hard on your married life and vice versa. What any youth minister who is married or looking to get married needs to know is:
YOU CAN’T LEAVE WORK AT THE DOOR
Youth ministry is messy. You might have a fight with your pastor, a volunteer might quit or a parent could chew you out. No matter what you try to do it can follow you home. Instead of trying to completely separate the two:
- Surround yourself with people outside your spouse that will hear you vent.
- Plan quiet time with God.
- Find a mindless activity to work off the emotions.
The same goes for bringing home life to work. When things are rough in married life, know that it will follow you to work. While you can’t prevent the emotions or situations, you can build in margin to manage them.
YOUR SPOUSE NEEDS TO BE BEHIND YOU 100%
If your spouse does not respect or like what you do, then your ministry will feel impossible. To get them on board invite, do not pressure, them to learn more about your ministry. Invest in them by sharing your vision, take them with you to conferences and share your stories of success. The more they see what you love, the more they’ll get behind you. This is essential when times at work get tough. (For more on how get your spouse on board, click here)
YOU MUST BE CLEAR ON BOUNDARIES
To protect your married life you need to set boundaries. That means informing coworkers and volunteers when and how you might be reached at certain hours. Sit down with your spouse on a regular basis (Kate and I meet weekly) to discuss the calendar. Communicate when work is negotiable and when it is not. It might be hard conversation at first, but you’ll prevent any opportunities for disappointment.
YOUR PASTOR MATTERS
The only thing worst than your family resenting your job is your pastor resenting your marriage. The best thing you can do is make sure he has a relationship with your spouse. If he gets to know your spouse, he’s going to better understand when work and home conflict.
If you want to be a successful youth minister you need to take your married life seriously. Love your spouse and embrace the journey God has you on. Ask God to continually bless what it is you do and never be afraid to seek His guidance. If your marriage is healthy, then so will your ministry.
What advice would you give to those starting out with marriage or youth ministry?
Great resources for balancing marriage and ministry: Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide?