Marriage can be a rewarding, blissful and fulfilling part of life. But, it can also be difficult, challenging and strained when ministry is incorporated if not properly balanced. When God calls a person to the ministry, He calls them to minister to His people without respect to gender. He invented both marriage and ministry and He knows that they are able to co-exist. The problem is people not incorporating His divine plan, not relying on His leading and not having balance. As women, many perceive the balancing of marriage and ministry to be an expected duty that should always succeed.
Its failure or success is solely viewed as the woman’s responsibility and should failure occur, it is perceived that the reason is because the woman was out of place. Women, in particular, are expected to maintain overwhelming responsibilities and often, forced to choose between being a homemaker or God’s chosen minister. Many married women in ministry are labeled as someone who has forsaken her God-given duty to stay home, raise a family and tend to her husband’s every desire. They are viewed as being too aggressive when they are in ministry or leadership roles and are even branded as a woman who contradicts biblical teaching.
There are several conflicting perceptions and understandings about women in ministry, particular married ones. Yet, God calls married women to feed His people with His love and His Word. Ministry and marriage hold great challenges but, they can be successfully productive and flourishing with the right ingredients. They both require much prayer, prioritizing and a unified mission to fulfill God’s calling. And it requires balancing and blending of both roles. Introduction God has called many women to fulfill His will through ministry. Although, there are many challenges, there are many rewards for bidding His will.
Yet, married women are stereotyped as home care-givers only and are expected to maintain and fulfill the role of the housewife and a minister, and caregiver of their husbands and children rather than be involved with ministry outside of the home. It can be a very controversial subject among women and men. Some believe women have a right to work in the ministry and that the spouse is to share the load of maintaining the home. While others take the stance that ministry should be left to the husband and women should learn at home. This conflicting view has caused many marriages to end in turmoil and divorce.
They never learn the art of balancing marriage and ministry. As Jeanna Floyd, author of 10 things Every Minister’s Wife Should Know, stated, “Balancing time, family, and church will always be a tension in ministry life”. (Floyd, 2010) (p. 69). Marriage requires much work. And ministry demands much dedication and time as well. Combining the two can be very difficult and draining. Yet, through appropriate balancing and God’s help, uniting marriage and ministry can be successfully achieved. “Marriage and ministry can peacefully co-exist if we devote equal or enough time to both and do not neglect one for the other”. Markland, 2009) (p. 83). This paper will address some issues that many women are confronted with in ministry, God’s requirements for women in the ministry and how balancing marriage and ministry can be obtained. Issues Women Ministers Face For many, in our culture, when a woman has an interest, seeks to partake of the ministry or declares to have been called to the ministry, she is perceived to be out of order. Women in ministry can be a very controversial and complicated subject. “This topic is broad and complicated enough that sincere people disagree sharply even when they share similar mind-sets. .
(Doriani, Women in Ministry, 2003) (p. 15) Subsequently, women in ministry face many challenges. And the traditional teaching in our culture has always been one of the threats and challenges to women who are interested in ministry. Controversy was present during the early church and division still presently exists. “Evangelicals today are divided into two clearly defined groups: those who believe that all facets of ministry ought to be open to women (egalitarians) and those who are convinced that women can properly serve only in supportive roles (complementarians)”. (Grenz, 1995) (pg. 9) . As a result of these contrasting views, women are either wholly accepted or accepted with limitations and only in supportive roles. Often, women were forbidden to even speak in the church.
This precept has been erroneously supported by one particular verse of scripture in the Bible. When Paul addressed a conflicting situation in the church, he sought to resolve confusion with a verse in the Bible. He said, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law”. 1 Corinthians 14:34, KJV). This misunderstood verse has prompted many religious organizations to forbid women to teach, speak or minister in any capacity. Walter Elwell sums this well when he stated, “The reason that women rather than men are mentioned here may be due to the fact that in Corinth women were the primary disturbers”. (Elwell, 2001) (pg. 1284). It was a matter of order being practiced in the church not a preeminence of male authority over women as many believed. Unfortunately, this position has been passed down through many generations and still exists today.
Women are perceived to be disturbers or weak leaders. Also, women roles are expected to consist of maintaining silence in churches and leave ministering to exclusively to men. Additionally, besides traditional perceptions of the woman’s role, women are viewed as a domesticated figure of the family and are not accepted as to engage in activities that would take her from the home. Because many women were once, and yet viewed as being inferior to men, their permanent role was only to function as a wife, mother and care-giver for the home. The Bible never says women should stay at home, barefoot and pregnant. ” “Women had vital tasks with Jesus and Paul and probably left home for some of them”. (Doriani, Women and Ministry: What the Bible Teaches, 2003) (p. 98). God calls both male and female, and husbands and wives to minister. He has no respect of person as The Apostle Peter points out. “Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” Acts 10:34, KJV) He only desires for ministry to be served according to His divine plan. God’s Requirements for Women in Ministry.
Astonishing as it may be, God has the same requirements for women as He has for men in ministry. And God desires that they support one another in that ministry. “In original design, Man and Woman were created to support one another and to protect one another from the negative things of this world. They were designed to complement and complete one another: his strength, her awareness and sensitivity”. (Holmes, 2008) (p. 1). They were also called to fulfill God’s will in reaching souls. He called married couples to become one in spirit and that oneness was to be unified for His purpose.
Robin Maxson and Garry Frieson, authors of Singleness, Marriage and the Will of God: A Comprehensive Biblical Guide, spoke about Aquila and Priscilla in the bible as good examples of how God unites marriages for teamwork to fulfill His will. He said, of Aquila and Priscilla, “They are always referred to together, never individually; they functioned as a team, as partners in a shared mission. Far more than soul mates, they could be described as “mission mates”. (Maxson, 2012) (p. 113). God’s requirements are the same for all.
He wants devotion, unity and willingness. He does not require His message to be delivered according to a person’s gender or marital status. He called His disciples (male and female) to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: an, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. ” Matthew 28:19-20, KJV) This command does not indicate male or female, neither married nor single.
It is directed and commanded of Christ’s disciples. “An inescapably blessed fact fills the scriptures: God has ordained that every believer realize the significance of their mission and ministry as his servant. Gender is no restriction intended to limit significance or breadth of dimension in living for or serving Christ”. (Dr. Jack W. Hayford, 1994) (p. v) He only wants women in ministry to balance things as to not neglect their home or duties to the ministry. It is a challenging yet achievable goal. Balancing Marriage and Ministry Dr. Hayford highlights how the woman described in Proverbs 31 gives us a picture of a very industrious woman whose personality is not highlighted but her character and the way she interacts with the world around her. He said, “At the heart of this short passage, you will find a powerful truth-“a woman who fears the Lord” has available to her all the things that make for a blessed life filled with joy, appreciation, love, and contentment”. (Dr. Jack W. Hayford, 1994) (pg. 1). A woman must fear God and allow Him to be first in every area of her life.
The woman in ministry has to understand that God is the absolute key to obtaining balance. It is His divine direction and guidance that enable a woman to manage her marriage, children and God-given ministry for His service and Glory. She must be able to demonstrate selflessness in ministry and in marriage. And yet, taking time to care for her needs as well. To combat the selfishness, a woman must apply the admonishment of the Apostle Paul who wrote, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves”. Philippians 2:3, KJV) Ministers are to esteem others better than themselves which helps to destroy the enemy of selfishness and to promote spiritual balance and the serving of one another. Women in ministry succeed when they exude selflessness, practice good time management and set priorities in order. Time management and setting priorities are a must when attempting to balance ministry and marriage. God intends for women to manage their time as to not neglect or over compensate in either area.
But to glorify God in their service to their family, their jobs and through ministering to others. Next to individual relationship with Christ, marriage is the next most important relationship a woman can have. Therefore, women need to cultivate spiritual intimacy with their spouses just as they develop spiritual intimacy with Christ. “Developing spiritual intimacy means that believing couples seek to help each other deepen their relationship in Christ”. (Thompson, 2009) (p. 95). Women in ministry will involve their spouses as they seek to please God in service to Him.
They will also involve their children to ensure an understanding of fulfilling the call of God as a family and not individually. It is vital to the success of a marriage and healthy family that a woman conveys the love for her family and the love for God. She must take the time, responsibility and accountability of sharing her commitment to her family and to the ministry. She is also responsible for making sure that her spouse and children receives her love and devotion without feeling abandoned or place second to her ministry.
But that the family is involved in a shared mission that requires sacrifice and understanding in each role. As a result, a woman’s marriage, family and ministry can be partakers of the woman and of the love of God as she serves Christ and His people. Marriage and ministry are both founded upon love and conveyed in service. Marriage and ministry should be harmonious and blend rather than counteract, compete or compare and produce conflict. Ministry and marriage is about serving the needs of others and yet receiving the benefits of that servitude.
We must understand that God is the absolute key to obtaining balance. He is not the author of confusion and is not glorified when marriages and ministries experience trouble, hurt or suffering because of conflict due to improper balancing. Managing marriage and ministry successfully can be achieved if women incorporate the help and dependence upon God rather than attempting to organize according to their own abilities and knowledge. And proper management helps to establish a healthy and successful marriage as well as a successful and fulfilling ministry.
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Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity. Holmes, R. S. (2008). The Balancing Act: A Guide to maintaining a Healthy Marriage. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. Markland, D. E. (2009). Women! Be Silent No More. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. Maxson, J. R. (2012). Singleness, Marriage and the Will of God:A Comprehensive Biblical Guide. Eugene. OR: Harvest House Publishers. Thompson, D. D. (2009). Twelve Biblical Steps to a Successful Marraige: A Simple Explanation of God’s Principles for Husbands and Wives. Nashville, TN: Xulon Press, a Division of Thomas Nelson.