The Ministry Spouse Myth

As many of my usual readers know, I’ve been in full time paid ministry for 20 years.  One thing that makes my story unique is that I served in that capacity as a single person for the first 17 1/2 years.  Because of that I’ve been privy to a lot of different experiences interacting with married folks.

As is the case with most protestant and/or evangelical churches and organizations, most people serving in leadership in my organization are married.  I don’t know what the percentage is, but it has to be 80%. Probably higher for everyone over 25 in our mission. It’s an expectation in our evangelical culture that the pastor/leader/staff person be married. As such we make a lot of statements an assumptions that while often well intentioned are often false and misleading and frankly usually contradicting.

I was recently at staff conference where they were honoring people who have served in different capacities.  At one point, the person leading the time said something to the effect of, “Can we have all the staff spouses stand.  Let’s all give them a round of applause because we know that none of this happens without them.  They are just as important to this work as anyone else.”

This was followed by a time of honoring certain staff and of course their spouses.  “We all know that Joe wouldn’t be who he is without his wife Sally”.

I just sort of cringed.  And I’m now married.

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