Introduction

It was 2000, or perhaps 1999—I’m not certain. My wife and I had been married for three years, with Katelynn at two years old and Kylee on the way. We lived in a small one-bedroom apartment, about ten minutes from the campus. I was living my dream as I started the four-year ThM program at Dallas Seminary (DTS). Kristie, ready to get in and out, merely tolerated our time away from our home in Oklahoma.

Epiphany in Class

Early in Dr. Mark Young’s missions class, I had an epiphany. Mark discussed the importance of missions—a natural focus for a missions class. Contextualization, culture, redemptive analogies, and the like were all being discussed every day. Our passions were on the rise as Mark told his stories about his time in Poland, barely able to hold back the tears, and neither could we.

The Map of Missions

A high concentration of pins around the Dallas area indicated many DTS grads stayed nearby. Similarly, pins scattered across all fifty states showed their widespread presence. Looking beyond the United States, there was a glaring scarcity of pins, highlighting the vast need for missions work. Mark explained that while 95% of graduates stayed in the United States, only 5% served abroad, despite the fact that 95% of the global need for the Gospel, theological training, and churches was elsewhere. This discrepancy was alarming, and Mark’s passion for missions amplified the urgency.

Called to Missions

Well, I heard the call that day, loud and clear. I knew what I was meant to do. Before, I was uncertain, but now, the Lord’s voice came through like a megaphone: I was supposed to go overseas and be a missionary!

Breaking the News at Home

When I got home, Kristie attempted to probe for the passion and the source of my excitement. Holding back some details naively, thinking it would be a surprise, I walked her through what I had learned, doing my best to convey the urgency without the pins. I explained the global famine for the Gospel. Then, at the right moment, I revealed the “good” news: “We are going to be missionaries!!!”

Unexpected Reaction

Let’s just say that the rehearsal in my mind did not mirror the actual events. I had thought Kristie would be excited, that her heart would break for those less fortunate, that she would hear the Lord’s voice as clearly as I did. But that was not the case. She began to cry… and these were not the type of tears I had hoped for.

A Difficult Spiritual Battle

This struggle weighed heavily on me. We discussed, argued, and tried to persuade each other for some time. It became a very difficult spiritual battle. Kristie made it clear she was not going to another country. Her concerns were our children and our family’s well-being, her known and loved community. She would either stay in Dallas or return to Oklahoma City. Those were her only options, in stark contrast to our lessons on missions. To me, she seemed to be quenching the Great Commission itself.

Questioning My Path

Thus began quite a struggle. Was I a follower of the Lord or a follower of my wife? That became the question. I even considered, if Kristie would not accompany me, might I go alone? Which was the greater good: maintaining my marriage or saving souls? Conversely, which was the greater evil: divorce or ignoring God’s call?

Intervention and Revelation

Then, one day, Mark invited his wife, Priscilla, to share her testimony about life on the mission field with our class. I admired her deeply, perceiving her as the epitome of a supportive spouse. It pained me that my wife did not share this vision. That night, determined to change things, I initiated what I thought of as a spiritual intervention. However, the anticipated discussion with Mark turned unexpectedly into a stern admonition from Priscilla, who made me realize the importance of unity in marital decisions regarding ministry.

A Change of Heart and Mind

This conversation was transformative, reshaping my understanding of marriage and ministry. Priscilla’s forthrightness helped me re-evaluate my priorities, placing my family and wife above my zeal for ministry. It was a turning point, saving my marriage from being undermined by my passion for ministry.

Lessons Learned

Paul tells Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). In my immaturity, I lost sight of this, believing the greatest good was spreading the Gospel, to the exclusion of all else. I was nearly willing to sacrifice my family on the altar of my calling.

Observations and Warnings

Since that pivotal moment, I’ve witnessed similar scenarios unfold multiple times, often with heartbreaking outcomes. Zealous spouses, particularly husbands, become embittered when their partners do not share their missionary zeal, sometimes leading to the dissolution of their marriages. These stories serve as a somber reminder of the importance of mutual calling in marriage, especially in ministry.

Concluding Thoughts

Friends, and especially young, zealous husbands or those soon to be, take heed not to let your passion for ministry overshadow your first ministry—your marriage. Understand that if God does not call your spouse, He is not calling you in that direction. Period. Thanks to Priscilla, for her bold intervention, I learned this lesson well.

Final Note

(Please note that there were over 200 comments on this post before we had our server problems. If your comments got lost, I am sorry.)


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    47 replies to "How My Passion for Ministry Almost Ended My Marriage"

    • JasonS

      Michael,
      Thank you for posting this. Who knows how many people are out there struggling against each other due to this passion mingled with pride? All the while both are longing to honor the Lord, yet don’t recognize the need to do it together with the husband loving his wife as Christ loves the church, and the wife submitting to her husband as the church does to Christ- TEAMWORK AT ITS BEST!
      It would be great if you could get the perspective of a godly wife on how a wife should respond in this sort of circumstance, too.

    • Luke

      Good word CMP. I agree for the most part. However, I would like to add a few caveats.

      First off, while the husband is normally at fault for being overly zealous, sometimes the blame really does lie on the wife and her disobedience. I know people, just like you do, where the husband is incredibly gifted and has a passion for a particular people group or nation, yet the wife is “scared” and wants to be at home with mommy and daddy or in American where it’s “safe.” Why is this disobedience? Because of the radical commands of Christ. He doesn’t call for admirers, he wants followers. I know of nobody who ignores their wife’s wishes in this regard, so I’m different than you there, but in my opinion sometimes it really is the wife’s problem.

      You may say I’m not believing in God’s sovereignty. Whatever, you can think that. But when I read the Bible and see Israel’s disobedience again and again in being a light to the nations, I have a tough time making the claim “The Lord evidently didn’t want them to or he would’ve changed their hearts.” So the “sovereignty” think is a remark of false piety and excuse for compromise and justification in many cases.

      Second off, there are so many myths people believe about foreign missions I can’t even begin to enumerate them. America is not a “safer” place than many other countries, contrary to popular opinion (that’s probably #1 that I hear). It’s not as difficult as you think to learn a language when you are immersed in it. Just because you have gifts and intellect doesn’t mean you’re supposed to stay in your country and help “your own;” God’s own is humankind. You can live in a 500 sq. foot building with no problem whatsoever. You really don’t NEED all of your cosmetics and technological stuff. Having Tommy and Susie grow up with grandparents living within a 5 minute drive pales in comparison to the need around the world and how much you can help. Families often report a closer relationship with their other family members state side when they are foreign missionaries. If you don’t do anything the world is not gonna be “just fine,” and other people probably won’t do it in your place. Who cares if you won’t be able to pay for Tommy’s college? He’ll probably get financial aid anyways.

      I could list a thousand more I’ve heard over the years and encounter every day. Yes, the husbands need to calm down & not go when the wives aren’t willing, but the wives need to understand what they signed up for when they started following Jesus and/or married their husband. There are some pretty tough commands in the Gospels for followers of Jesus. The same thing goes for husbands who have wives interested in missions when they aren’t. Granted, the approach isn’t to guilt them into it, get some professor to yell at them, tell them they don’t love Jesus, or give them an ultimatum, but just because they have no current interest doesn’t mean you’re not “called” to go.

    • Ryft Braeloch

      “You first ministry is your marriage.” And hence the extraordinary shame I feel over losing my marriage. I did not love my wife as Christ loves the church; instead of laying down my life for her, I wanted her to lay her life down for me. I had it completely backwards, and my sin cost me dearly—losing my wife and crippling my testimony. Thank you for sharing this, Michael. The biblical truth and spiritual force of this article could not be overstated. You were blessed, that you didn’t have to make the mistake in order to learn from it. Lord, forgive me that I had to.

    • C Michael Patton

      I am sorry to hear about that my friend. May the Lord bless you. Thank you for sharing as I am sure the testimony of many who have been through or are going through this is important to help people to realize God priorities.

    • Dave Z

      Wow, Michael. I so appreciate your openness and honesty.

      I went through something similar – different circumstances, different type of ministry committment, same “obstinate” wife. Of course, she was right.

      I love this short-and-to-the-point quote from Priscilla – “If she is against it, it is not his will. Period!”

    • Rick Wadholm Jr

      Thank you Michael. That was a wonderful article. I am a pastor (have been for the last 10 years) who was called into missions at the age of 16. My wife and I have been on several mission trips together (short term) and plan to eventually work full-time in mission work. However, my wife has never had the same missions calling as I have, but she still has a heart for missions. I thankfully learned early on in our marriage that it was not my job to convince her of a calling, but it was the Lord’s. I’ve also discovered that when I don’t push it and learn to relax into the Lord’s timing that its not a big deal. He has helped me to realize that I am blessed to participate in the evangelization of the world, but I am not essential to do so (He is fully capable to doing what he will without me, but graciously calls and equips, etc.). In this, He has led me to be patient about following whatever He has for me today and to put everything in His hands through prayer. My wife has (without my pressuring, nagging, or anything else) caught more and more of a heart for missions, but we are still waiting (together) for the Lord’s timing. I’m no longer rushed, and she is no longer feeling pressured. It did take some time for me to realize that she is just as capable of hearing the voice of the Lord as I am (go figure :-)…and that He will tell us both when and where and what, whenever He chooses. Praise His Name. I praise the Lord every day for a Godly wife that seeks Him with all her heart! And I pray that I may also be faithful to do so as well!

    • Luke

      “If she is against it, it is not his will. Period!”

      Do you really think this is true is all scenarios? That’s all I’m asking. How many things can I bring this up about where you’d say “no way!” Is this always this case? I think you need to clarify a little.

    • C Michael Patton

      Luke, as a complementarian, I would not say that this is the case in all circumstances such as those outside of ministry. (But to be a complemenarian is not a de facto situation. You have to earn the right to practice your complementarian theology!) Nevertheless, with regard to ministy such as I have outlines (going into full-time ministry), while you can do it alone (in the sense that your wife is not necessarily involved), you can’t do it when she is against it and unwilling to comply. You can’t make it happen and it will destroy your first ministry. In these cases, I think you have to submit to God’s voice through your wife, no matter how unsettling this may be to your passions.

    • C Michael Patton

      Thank you so much for sharing. I hope people read that.

    • Veronica

      I personally think that a woman shouldn’t marry a guy unless she is willing to follow him. Period.
      Yes I believe there are times when the husband is misinterpreting God’s call. But I also believe that if that happens God will intervine in some way. I can tell you right now if you weren’t supposed to be a missionary, but still tried to leave and be one, God wouldn’t have let you board the plane. Or it would have been the most miserable experience of your life.
      But I still think if the wife isn’t willing to follow and submit to her husband than she shouldn’t be getting married AT ALL. The husband’s and wife’s responsibility is to God first, each other second, children third, job last. Worry about the kids’ safety is ridiculous. Can God take care of them or can’t He? That’s what it comes down to.
      I don’t wish for comfort an safety for my (non-existent, hopefully someday) kids. (I don’t even wish it for my sisters or parents or me!) I wish for them to follow God’s call. And if He calls them into the wilds of North Korea to preach the gospel and I won’t see them for 20 years and they may die before that, then so be it. On their departure I will cry, but I will hug them and kiss them and give them my blessing and my prayers and say, “Go. Take your sword of the Spirit and fight, even if you die. Live in abandonment to Jesus and know that I am praying for you.”
      I sincerely hope that I never, EVER wish for safety over God. That’s just ridiculous. My mother has wished safety for me and it’s extremely frustrating. It means I can’t mention ministering to gangs or in prisons or missions to China and Iraq. It doesn’t matter if it’s next door or across the ocean, if it’s dangerous she doesn’t want it to be so in my life. She doesn’t want it to be God’s calling. I believe that’s blatent DIStrust in God, if not unbelief. Is He God or is He not?
      Like I said there will always be times when the husband is in the wrong. Everyone is fallible. In that case, I think the wife shouldn’t just be stubborn and say, “No I won’t go.” She should try to talk it out and see what’s driving him. And he needs to take into account her “advice” if you will. It is two fold to some degree, but th wife IS supposed to follow her husband. I tink statements like, “If she is against it, it is not his will. Period!” Is just prideful on the wife’s part.

      • enoh

        Veronica, I admire your convictions about the LORD

    • Michael T

      Veronica,
      Are you married??? Just curious here??? Cause if you are your husband must be a much better man then me. I sure wouldn’t trust myself with the blank check you seem to be giving men. You see right now I think God is calling me to be a minister on the ski slopes of Colorado…..

    • Josh

      I read these 2 truths a few weeks ago and think they are very wise statements:

      “The church can get another pastor, but your kids can’t get another dad.”

      “The church can get another pastor, but your wife only has one husband—and she needs a good one.”

      (These are from Dustin Neeley’s blog on The Resurgence’s website at http://theresurgence.com/lead-your-family-truth_5.)

      Your family is your first and primary ministry. But if you are convinced that God would move you into a new ministry somewhere else, your job is, first of all, to pray for her. Secondly, it is your job as husband to lead her into holiness. If she is being disobedient to God, then speak the truth in love… gently… with patience. This may take years, but remember that you will be held accountable for the way you treat your wife.

      From a strictly missionary standpoint, how effective would you be in preaching Christ to the nationals if they sense discord in your family? Just because there may be a language barrier doesn’t mean they won’t be able to tell that there are problems in the home.

      Furthermore, any mission board that is worth its salt will NOT allow you to go if they see that your wife doesn’t want to. Most likely, they will advise you to stay in the U.S. until she’s on board.

    • JoanieD

      Michael, I would like to send a bouquet of flowers or something to Priscilla! Wonderful advice she gave you and you were wise to take that advice. Kudos to both of you.

      And I do love that passage in 1 Tim 5:8. Powerful stuff!

    • JoanieD

      Michael T…funny comment in #11!

      Some women will follow their men right into hell.

    • Cadis

      “You have to earn the right to practice your complementarian theology!”

      That’s the quote of the day. I pity you guys. 🙂

    • Charlie

      My wife and I have been full time missionaries for over 30 years, and from this side of things I can tell you that leaving home and living cross-culturally is hard, hard work. Married couples who are committed to the hardships and each other do well because they sharpen and encourage each other through the difficulties. Married couples where one spouse comes reluctantly or under protest inevitably crash and burn, creating pain in their relationship, hardships for their mission, abandonment of the indigenous people they came to serve, and disappointments for their sending church.

      The need overseas is great and it surely tugs at our hearts. But I completely agree that the Lord will move a married couple together to respond to that need, and only then will they really have the strength to be effective in their chosen mission. Thanks for your good words and wisdom, Michael.

    • Wilson Hines

      In 2004 the Wife and I went to Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, TN and met with EVERYBODY.

      From the Greek teacher in the seminary, who I already knew well, to the NT department head. The undergrad professors and other folks. I even had an hour long meeting with Dr. Lee Roberson, the 90+ year old chancellor of the college who graciously spent time with me, asking me allot of soul searching questions and giving me some fantastic advice – and prayer time on our knees.

      All in one single day I secured at $50k a year job with hours that worked with school, tentatively rented a house that was right down the street from the school and took hold of a four year scholarship at TTU.

      The Wifey wasn’t “with the program.” Not one ounce. We had a two month old baby and a two year old and that was just the start of our challenges.

      We didn’t go to Chattanooga and TTU. I still wish we had. It would have been hard, but it could have been much harder. Looking back at it, my wife was, overall, right. I held this against her for a short time and I “got over it” fairly quickly. I’ve never been one to hold a grudge.

      Things like this has ruined allot of families. She told me she would go; but she also told me she didn’t want to go. I am glad I have the woman I have. I couldn’t imagine being with anybody else. And that is the reason I decided not to move my family.

      It has been five years and I start school in January. It is much better timing for several different reasons.

    • Luke

      So CMP, let’s say my wife doesn’t want me to go into ANY ministry. Let’s say she doesn’t even want me to teach at a Sunday school. Let’s say she just wants me to sell cars and spend the rest of my time with her and the children. Should I submit to her since it’s evidently always God’s will to do what the wife desires an complies to in regards to ministry? How are you getting this?

      Look, I understand the point you’re trying to make, but in regards to missions it’s just too common of a compromise and justification for fulfilling the desires of the flesh and not living sacrificially. Even though a husband may be zealous at first, the world slowly creeps in over time and what may have originally been a calling from God becomes a “Man, I’m glad I didn’t do that because I have a great life now where I live close to mom and dad, have a nice house, my family is safe, etc.” He begins to convince himself that since his wife was against it, it was never God’s call. I’m just giving a word of caution and saying “Don’t give up on missions! Keep at it and treat your wife with respect and maturity; you may yet convince her!” In other words, don’t just give up on missions and say, “Well, I guess I was never supposed to do that since she didn’t like that idea.” Do you think Paul liked getting beaten and thrown into prison? Do you think Peter’s wife liked him walking around with Jesus for three years when he had a mother-in-law at home he should be taking care of? No! But she makes sacrifices because that’s what it takes to follow Jesus and that’s how Christians live in the new age.

      There is nothing God has a heart more for than peoples who don’t know him or live in terrible conditions. A person doesn’t just get an idea of ministering to the helpless & suddenly realize it’s not God’s “calling” since it makes her “uncomfortable” so that means they should be selling insurance & pursue the American dream; humans are far too selfish & sinful to get the idea of ministering to the helpless.

      Taking the de facto approach you suggest only contributes to the problem in my opinion. The need around the world is far too great to assume that whenever one spouse is against an idea that is inherently missional, incarnational, and selfless, it cannot be God’s will. It works under the assumption of some type of gnostic-mystical “calling” all Christians are supposed to have, where if it’s your “calling” everything will just fall into place and be perfect, both people will be all in 100%, etc. Awareness and knowledge should lead to your calling, not some mystical Macedonian vision or assumption that both spouses have to have the EXACT same thoughts, goals, and passions.

      Your problem was not a “non-calling” to missions, your problem was immaturity. That’s what we should focus on: maturity; not throwing up your hands and saying, “Welp! It ain’t God’s will, period!” I don’t see Dr. Young making it so black and white.

    • Bill Foote

      Great word brother. I worked for years as a mission pastor and had the privilege of helping many go onto the field. In those years I learned to ask this question to all the men who felt called to go. “Does your wife sense that same calling?” If not I would advise them to wait until she does, warning them that unless they both are on the same page, more than likely they would fail. Unfortunately there would be times when the man would forge ahead and drag his poor wife behind him. Eventually they would return home defeated in their work and struggling to hold their marriage together. Their time on the mission field was characterized by struggle.
      I learned through years of experience the truth of what you are saying. When God calls the husband, He also calls the wife.

    • Gwyn

      Thank you for your post. It was encouraging to read, as my husband and I have struggled with this very thing. I know some have asked about the wife’s disobedience causing the husband to be hindered from doing God’s work. This is what happened with us.

      But God used my disobedience to mold us together. The hardship and pain I caused my husband was what God used to work maturity and love toward me in my husband. Then God used my husband’s love to bring me back to himself. Now our marriage is stronger and God has taken us in a new direction for ministry that we are both dreaming about together. This ministry is also something we could have never dreamed of before the trials and pains.

      So husbands, please try to follow this advice. The lesson and path God wants for you will be with your wife. And you may be surprised where he takes you…

    • C Michael Patton

      Sorry, we lost about 200 comments on this thread due to the server move and problems we had this weekend.

      • Heath

        What if your wife isn’t seeking God’s will?

    • tamara

      This was a great blog post, but wow, some of these comments are really, really painful to read. God had already made the dog before He created Eve… and God is the one who said it wasn’t a suitable mate for him… so lets not think of wives as ‘companions’ that God calls to go where and do what they are told. Submission is not about ‘obedience’… it is about selflessness. So is ‘laying down your life’, by the way, which is how Christ loved the church. Absolutely, we have got it really messed up on both sides, and we are very defensive and self-protecting. We are disobedient, that is true. But God deals with us when we are, doesn’t He? Doesn’t He love us enough to correct us, to encourage us, to affirm His will to us? If you are a person too headstrong to hear the voice of God or to receive His correction, then maybe you have no business being on the missionfield anyway. Unless you’re Jonah.

      Is it really possible that some husbands don’t honestly realize that God also speaks to their wives? How can it be so unfathomable to a husband that God also gives to his wife (the one he loves and cherishes) her own unique spiritual burdens, truth, wisdom, visions, passions and callings, all of which she is called to humbly lay before the Lord with open hands? ALL things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes. Sometimes we think God is calling us to something, but what God really wants is to teach us something… to reveal something of Himself and His nature to us, to build character in us, to teach us what it means to love, to purify us of our vanity, our selfish ambition and our sentimental notions of who He is and what He is truly calling us to. If a husband cannot first lay down his life for his beloved wife – the one person he vowed before God to honor, care for and forsake all others for – how can he ever hope to reveal Jesus to a stranger? He hasn’t begun to understand his calling as a man of God, as a husband, as spiritual leader in the home.

      If there is any missionfield today, I think it is the marriage. I pray that God will have compassion on us, and stir the hearts of men and women from the far corners of the earth, to come to us and speak the gospel to us here in North America! God clearly stated that the marriage is God’s clearest picture – the image bearer – of Christ’s relationship with the church. It is not supposed to be about control, power and authority, but about love, sacrifice and mutual submission. Like most other of God’s profound mysteries, we have absolutely ravaged that picture. Some of ya’ll are making Jesus sound like an abusive husband, and I pray that in His mercy He will pour out His lavish love upon you, that they eyes of your heart may be opened to see the mystery of His heart towards you, His bride!

    • Stephen

      The Christian life is “being,” (i.e., character) not “doing.” One of greatest heros of the Bible is Enoch (Gen 5:24). Not much is written about his accomplishments (i.e., doing), but he walked with God so closely that he was spared from death itself (Heb 11:5) “…as he was commended as one who pleased God.” There are no shortcuts to this kind of character, only faithful moment to moment devotion to God and His word….not rah rah enthusiasm.

      BTW, Heb 11:5 is the introduction to the famous verse of Heb 11:6…….

    • Anne

      Roberta Winters of USCWM encouraged single women who felt a mission call to go to the places whre they could meet mission minded men. After my first husband died, I waited 14 years until I found a man who was willing to serve the Lord in any way as it related to the unreached who had never heard even once.

    • ali

      Thanks so much for this. At this very point in time I (the wife) am struggling with my husband not being motivated to missions and me thinking I really want to go! The funny part is we have actually “gone” and are in transit, so to speak. This transit involves a university course and three years in another country being ordinary and comfortable and getting lazy towards the call. My husband is coming up with all sorts of things we can do after he finishes the course – and none of them are in response to what we thought was our “call” before leaving home. It’s a conundrum but your blog helps me rest a little. God will underline and reiterate that which he wants us to do and we will both hear it – when we need to.

    • Paul

      Great post, Michael, and much needed council.
      This works vice versa also. All complementarian or egalitarian issues aside, God would never call either spouse to something he’s not also calling the other. “What God has joined together, let man [or mission] not separate.’

    • […] How My Passion For Ministry Almost Ended My Marriage […]

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    • Anne

      A family that worked with the Kurds after the first gulf war, did not even arrive until the husband was @ 40. A general commended him saying, finally, someone who is mature has been sent. We need more. That beach head was successful. There is now a church among the Kurds. My son has wanted to be a missionary since he was 13. He is 35 and is still here. God has been using this time to build a foundation in his marriage. He and his wife have taught Bible studies on marriage for the past 5 years. Now all of the children are also on board to go; they just need to raise support. A lot of their prayer and financial support may come from all the friends they have made over the years. They also have a vision to invite friends to visit and potentially add to the mission force.

    • Lori L Buckle

      I can see both sides of the issue. I have known couples where the wife did not feel called and thankfully, the missions board did not allow the couple to proceed. They would have been very ineffective if they had actually been allowed to go out into the field.

      However, I have seen the opposite, too. When I was in missionary training school, we had a woman who felt called to go to a country that was closed to the gospel. However, her family protested about how unsafe it was, and so this woman set aside God’s calling on her life and instead went to a “safe” country. I’m sure she did good work there, but how much more could God have used her if she had followed His calling instead of listening to her family’s fears?

      This woman was not married, but if she had been, she undoubtedly would have protested if her husband had declared he felt called to go any country she deemed unsafe. So if a woman starts crying and automatically says she won’t go on the mission field because she’s not called, I think she needs to take a good hard look at her relationship with God. Is she really not called, or is she simply afraid and, as the poster above put it, doesn’t want to leave the comfort of Mommy and Daddy? Christ never called us to play it safe, but to be radical followers who left behind traditional relationships for the sake of His call.

      On a side note, I’m not a complementarian, but I do wonder how this fits in with the submission thing. I mean, if a wife refuses to go, isn’t she disobeying her husband? I thought he was supposed to be the head of the household who interpreted God’s will for the family. If so, then shouldn’t the wife be dealing with her spiritual disobedience for not followng God (through her husband)? That’s how I always understood these things to work.

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    • Sean Damkroger

      A few things from a man who has been married for 20 years:

      1. Luke: Brother, you are missing the point. The marriage is *numero uno*. It’s just like the oxygen mask on an airplane, you put it on *yourself* first, then the kid, because if you pass out you can’t help them. Same is true of missions, you have to keep the marriage alive first, or it dies and you can’t help the folks in the mission field.

      Here is really what Priscilla meant, if God does not call your wife, it will not work. Period. It doesn’t matter if you think your wife is being “disobedient”, if she is against going, the mission will fail, your marriage will suffer and you’ll waste people’s time, money and effort. Bottom line, if she doesn’t want to go, even if she’s wrong, wrong, you *can’t* go. It’s that simple. This is basic, maturity info.

      2. C Michael Patton: One thing I’ve learned about women…. they need to percolate. We men, in more ways than one, we’re a microwave – BOOM, we’re ready. Women, they’re a conventional oven, they have to pre-heat. You don’t startle women with snap decisions. They consider this (rightly) to be capricious, foolhardy and dangerous. Considering how quickly you became ready to make missions your mission in life (sorry, couldn’t help myself) I think you would agree you’re a man acquainted with spontaneity, and that can be good, but there isn’t much use for that as it pertains to the future and well-being of your family. Save that spontaneity for your love life, playtime with the kiddos and such. When I want to do something and I need my wife to support me, I start out *real* slow. I say something in passing conversation. Then I mention it to someone else where she can hear. I drop little hints and I wait for her to bring it up in conversation. I give her time to get used to the idea and I’m VERY careful, because once my wife makes a decision, she’s ironclad on it. I, like you, tend to be spontaneous and over the course of my marriage I’ve leaped headlong into a few things that she then became passionate about, only to find out too quickly that I lost interest and she was still all fired up. Be SURE you want what you want, before you start interesting your wife in it. You may be all fired up about missions today, but then you take your next class on apologetics and suddenly you want to be a professor and she’s looking for good hiking boots for the hills of North Korea. Oops, what now coach? Summing up:

      a. Be SURE.
      b. Go SLOW.
      c. Hint SOFTLY

      My wife has saved me from myself SO many times. I THANK GOD for her discipline, steadiness and discernment. Too many times I’ve been ready to do “THIS” and her wise whispers saved us from a WORLD of hurt. I now CHERISH the fact that she takes a good long time to cozy up to an idea, I can’t tell you how many times that my honey (and the extra time) has saved my bacon.

      Let her percolate, and you percolate too, the brew will taste much better and you’ll get more outta the grinds, bubba.

    • […] especially appreciated reading his post on mission work and marriage. I am struggling to work through exactly what he is talking about there. I initially took a word of […]

    • Steve

      Thank you for this post. There are also many wonderful comments that confirm the nerve this topic touches.

      I have heard character defined as “a long obedience in the same direction”. I think it’s a brilliant definition but I don’t think it’s entirely true to the Christian experience.

      Think of the disciples. I’ve often felt that Peter’s life, portrayed in the gospels, exemplifies the kind of heroic zeal that simply isn’t listening to God. It’s zealously committed but it’s not not maluable… not wanting Jesus to wash his feet… attacking with a sword… not wanting Jesus to go to the cross. Peters commitment to what he _already knows_ is so strong that there is little room for Jesus voice. Like the money changers tables, Jesus comes sometimes to overturn what we already know only to find that the tables have been bolted down. Our creedal position will not be upset.

      I joke with my wife that the Christian life requires careful aim, like bowling. Intense concentration is focused on a central pin–a few practice shots before friends show up. Just when we feel we are becoming quite expert, we recieve a call from our friends and discover we are in the wrong lane. Upon moving to the correct lane we find no one waiting for us. A second call confirms that we are not even in the right bowling alley. That`s Christianity.

      Like the pharisees who tithed a tenth of their mint, dill and cumin, we have become experts at our religion too quickly, and too stoically–we are targetting what we ought to be doing with great precision but are inattentive to God`s attempts to revise our aim.

      I haven’t really studied it, but I also wonder if Moses actions before his time in the desert were characteristic of this kind of heroic obedience done ‘in the flesh’. A way of fulfilling God’s purposes for his life _prematurely_ and in a way that was completely out of sync with God’s timetable and ways.

      Another undercurrent of this post and a number of these comments is the theme of doing “great things” for God. To be blunt, there is an attraction to certain types of Christian work that are very gratifying to our ego. My name in Christian lights `for Jesus`. We dream of fulfilling God`s grand purposes for us, but none of us wants to go into carpentry.

      This post challenges me to come down and live for my wife and kid. I love it.

    • Peng

      I read most of your comments, ideas, opinions and they all have their inputs but I must say, unless you are truly know the truth, it will not set you free. Who you are in Christ it is the most important and we all must view this from Heavenly perspective. I am not from this country and this is why I want to give you my perspective which I know it is heavenly perspective. ” First seek the kingdom of God and All things will be add to you”. Every of your decision you make, you must willing to take to the judgement day. Is your decision glorify God or not? Does not wife decision of stay near relative and concern for her kids glorify God?? What would she say to God on judgement day?? Do you believe the Word of God is the only Word? Yes you have to plan for your mission and it is not easy, many have gone and suffer. You have to prepare to suffer for Christ if you want to take up the cross but I assure you this that there is a crown of Life waiting for you. You don’t have to be afraid, the World is going to end anyway. The bible has not been wrong since it’s existence, for 2500 years, the Bible predicted everything and what makes you think you know more than God.
      If your brain it is the size of a cup and God is bigger than the ocean, how can you fill all of that to the little cup? Faith my friend, Mark 11:24 ..read it. In 1timothy, he simply told those people to take care of each other, not ignoring God’s calling.
      If you believe the Word of God than go and read Ephesians 1 all the way to the finish. Knowing who you are in Christ and do be afraid. He went ahead of you. For those who are scare to lose his family than, he never had Christ in him from the beginning and he should not go. Are you a Christian?? Are you truly a Christian?? if it so, you should know your earthly desire died already, there is no need to feed the flesh.
      thank you

    • David Freedom

      So if the husband and wife cannot agree on a minstry do you do nothing? Why would a passion be instilled in someone if it was not meant for God’s greater glory? Explain Luke 9:59-9:60 as it relates to this issue?

    • Carrie immel

      This was ….so comforting to me. Thank you

    • Camielle

      thank you for writing this and posting it online. My husband and I are in this situation right now. I know that I have not been called to the ministry he says he has been, and he’s making me feel like I am a bad wife.please pray for us.

    • Rachel K

      This was an absolutely awesome blog posting!

    • Desi

      Thank you. God might call you and not your wife.

    • Nicole

      I’m so glad that I came across this blog as I’m in the situation now. My husband took a job at a church that I wasn’t on board with and it almost destroyed our marriage. And all of the concerns that I had about the church were right in the end. Now he’s wanting to take another church job that I’m not on board with at all. I just don’t feel right about it and have been praying about it a lot. Please pray for us and that God will bring us together with a job at a church that we both agree with.

    • Angel

      I am sort of in this situation right now. I say sort of because I’ve had this calling for short-term missions. In our church, short term means 10 days. I have experienced how life-changing missions can be and I know that I am called to do short-term missions. However, whenever my husband and I sign up for the 10 days mission, we end up backing out (this happened twice already) because my husband’s heart is just not into it. So my question is does this also apply to 10 days mission? What about if it’s the wife who has heard the call?

    • Joe

      Is there anyway we can supply the scriptures rather than someone’s experience ? On what scriptures do we base this theory? Did Jesus not make sure to put into writing, holy scripture thatcannot be broken, “follow me,, but I just got married, …”
      Making the point VERY clear, many are called but few are chosen. “Let me first go bury my father…” My wife doesn’t think it’s a good idea …? It is impossible to believe God when oats of what He taught is disregarded because of tradition, man made rules. “Make the Word of God of no effect by your tradition…” I actually heard my Pastor when I was a student say ” what will it profit a man if he gain the whole world but loose his family” and everyone applauded. ??? God told Lot and family get out and do NOT look back, his wife didn’t listen and…… Who makes up testimonies that contradicts scripture? I’m not happy with modern day church. Sorry if I rained on this parade. Peace !!!

    • Bibliophile

      CMP (and others). One leg of the so-called “Evangelical Quadrilateral” is “Activism”: the belief that the gospel needs to be expressed in effort (usually, but not necessarily limited to missionary effort). This principle not only has no Biblical precedent, but it also wrecks homes; destroys marriages; and ruins childrens’ lives through parental negligence by prioritizing “ministry” above family.
      As a Catholic, the best advice I have heard to guard against this sin of activism, comes from Mother Teresa: “If you want to change the world – go home and love your family.” It’s been said (probably by a Catholic sage) that “Charity begins at home”. There is profound wisdom in that simple statement.

      You did well to realize in good time that your family is your ministry.

      • Bibliophile

        (As Catholics, we would rather use the term “vocation” – not ministry – when referring to Holy Matrimony and the primary responsibility of parents to provide for the spiritual and material needs of their families)

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