Balancing Marriage and Ministry

I was opportuned to attend a Pastors’ Wives’ Conference a few years ago and it was interesting and illuminating to hear some of the issues that some Mrs. Pastors are facing.

On the first night, this topic dropped in my spirit – “Marriage comes before Ministry…before God and even in the dictionary.” Before we dive into this topic, let’s be clear…Marriage is between a man and a woman – opposite genders – no more, no less. Ok, let’s go on…

As I was saying, Marriage comes before Ministry. Let me back up for a second here…I am not saying that you must be married before you can go into Ministry. What I am saying is: even if you or your husband was called into ministry before you got married to each other, you must reprioritize so you get the right results.

I daringly say this to Mr. & Mrs. Pastor: It is more important to preserve and protect your marriage than it is to preserve and protect the ministry. Ah?! Yes – Ah! 
Remember the Ministry is God’s work…the church is God’s bride. Let me pause here to say: 
Dear (male) Pastors, take care of your bride – let God take care of His. 

Too many marriages are in deep trouble because of the wrong priorities when it comes to these 2 “M” words.

So knowing that our marriage can make or mar ministry, what should we do to balance marriage (family) and ministry – in that order? (MFM 😊 – may be a good memory jogger).

Balance is both a noun and a verb
According to online dictionaries, as a noun it means:     
•    an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
•    a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

And as a verb it means: 
•    keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.
•    offset or compare the value of (one thing) with another.

To have balance in our marriages and ministries, here are a few things we need to do:

Be intentional in setting boundaries. You are the only one who knows and can maintain your boundaries. Quote: Balance is not better time management but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices. (Betsy Jacobson) Boundaries are God’s idea “From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. (Acts 17:26 – Christian Standard Bible)

There needs to be a clear demarcation between your marriage/family and the ministry…and a set time for everything. Otherwise you will find yourself doing everything for others and nothing/not enough for your spouse and children. 

Articulate your purpose – You need to be careful that in “being all things to all men” that you don’t end up being nothing to yourself. If you don’t know your purpose and pursue it, others will determine your purpose and push you around to fulfill their own purpose.

Learn to say “No” without feeling guilty – One secret for achieving balance in your life is “Knowing how to say ‘No’ without feeling guilty.” Write “NO” on a piece of paper and turn it upside down. Please remember that whatever you don’t say “NO” to in your life, gets turned “ON.”

Accept that life comes in “ages” and “stages” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (written by the wisest man that lived) tells us that: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (NIV). 

Depending on the ages of your children and the stage your family is at, there are some things – in ministry – that may need to take a “back seat.” For instance, I remember how much our adorable son was a distraction when I attended Choir meetings so I opted to serve elsewhere in church we’d fit better and I’d be more effective. In Ministry, the secret is in functioning not “featuring” – we need God’s approval not men’s applause. 

Never think that if something happens to you, the world would end – it won’t! Even when Jesus died, the world didn’t end. People went about their normal businesses including the women who went to “dress” the body only to discover that He had risen.  

This verse shows that too so clearly:
1 Samuel 30:13 – David said to him, “To whom do you belong, and where are you from?” He said, “I am a young man from Egypt, a servant of an Amalekite; and my master abandoned me [as useless] when I fell sick three days ago. (AMP)

This young man may have been his master’s “right hand” – but when he fell sick, he was abandoned and the Amalekites moved on to their next project. Yes, life does go on…

Carve out “Me-time” because self-care is not selfishness – Mark 6:31 – Jesus and his followers were in a very busy place. There were so many people that he and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, “Come with me. We will go to a quiet place to be alone. There we will get some rest.” (ERV) 

When you don’t take the time to rest, you unduly stretch yourself and get stressed. Caring for yourself is evidence that you care for your spouse, family and even the ministry. Your diet also shows how much you care for yourself.

Enjoy the moment – you cannot save “enjoyment of the moment.” This includes taking the time to laugh… as we know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile… 
The Bible encourages us to rejoice and enjoy life in several verses including:

Psalm 118:24 – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (CSB)

Ecclesiastes 2: 12 -13 – 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. 13 It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. (CSB)

John 10:10b – I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].  (AMP) 

Simply put: When you don’t enjoy your life, you are not fulfilling God’s purpose for sending Jesus.

In conclusion, Marriage is God’s idea so I can’t help but wonder why anyone would think that their ministry is more important than their marriage? The only other thing more important than your marriage, is your personal relationship with Him. So, I encourage you to invest quality time and emotions in your relationship with God and in your marriage – you’ll see the fruits your ministry. Otherwise you’ll have to deal with more thorns & tares in ministry than you need to – I join you to say: “God forbid!”

Bottom-line: Ultimately, the key to obtaining and maintaining balance in your marriage and ministry is remaining in balance with God. So, help us God!


Pastor Ada Adeleke-Kelani is a Co-Pastor of RCCG, Kings Throne Calgary.
She is also a Procurement Manager with Shell, a Community Builder and mentor.