8 Insights About Marriage and Ministry

Ed Stetzer: “Allow me to share a few things that Donna and I have seen after almost 30 years of a ministry marriage.”

In the January/February 2016 issue of Outreach, we talk about marriage and ministry. And though the issue is filled with good advice, I imagine it can be a bit overwhelming. But you need it. Although most of the doomsday stats about pastors (that they all hate the ministry and want to quit) are not true, ministry does put stress on a marriage.

In my most stream-of-consciousness column ever, allow me to share a few things that Donna and I have seen after almost 30 years of a ministry marriage.

1. Marriage is worth the investment.

Yes, it is an investment. I know that it is not always easy, but it is always worth it. I’m thankful for a strong marriage.

Ironically, you have to invest in a marriage for it to be worth the investment. It sounds strange, but it’s true—it takes continual investment on the investment.

I’ve seen “perfect” couples—like some we knew in high school and college—get married, drift apart and end up divorced. We did not. It’s not because we are perfect; it’s because we work hard.

2. Choosing your marriage partner is the most important human decision you will ever make.

I’ve seen many, many miserable ministry marriages. And a big part of that relates to bad marriage choices. My wife was and is beautiful, but attractiveness alone is a really bad foundation upon which to build a marriage.

Instead, I’m thankful that as a ministry marriage, we are in this together. She—and we—have a joy in what we are doing. And you simply can’t have a successful ministry marriage if you have not chosen one another wisely.

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3. Most fights are over stupid things that don’t matter.

When I was younger, I always wanted to prove my point. But now I know it’s more important to prove your love. You do that by not arguing over stupid things. Note: Most arguments arise from stupid things.

Most arguments are resolved when both people are more concerned with being in a relationship than with being right. I’m amazed at how many times I thought I was right. I had to be right. I had to show her I was right. And let me say, that’s just wrong. It’s dumb. And it does not work.

In marriage, you can’t sweat the small stuff. And, it’s mostly all small stuff.

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Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer is the editor-in-chief of Outreach magazine, host of the Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast, and a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He currently serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Naperville, Illinois.

He is also regional director for Lausanne North America, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by and writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. He is the founding editor of The Gospel Project, and his national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates.