Following a pastor’s personal salvation and his surrender to the call of God to ministry, I believe his choice of a wife is the most critical decision he can make relating to his life and ministry. I know this, not just by observing the lives of other pastors, but from my own marriage.
I have not always made the best decisions. But when I made a decision to marry Jeana Thomas, it was a great one. Through 40 years of marriage, we have learned the value of one another and the value of living life and doing ministry together.
I want to highlight five keys to a successful marriage between a pastor and his wife:
1. Learn from one another.
After being married to one another this long, we have learned so much about each other and marriage. And still, the learning continues. Perhaps what I share today will be an encouragement for your marriage.
2. Walk closely with the Lord individually and together.
One of the things that always encourages me is knowing that when I come out of my home office early in the morning, my wife is also up having her time with God. She does not live on my walk, and I do not live on hers. We walk with the Lord individually. We each take it seriously.
Yet, we walk side-by-side with the Lord. We talk about spiritual and ministry things regularly. We talk with people about their walk with Christ. We pray together nightly. We know it is critical for us to do life and ministry together.
3. Do ministry individually and together.
Jeana has consistently been involved in the ministry of the church. She’s served in the worship ministry, led a cancer support group, participated in weekly jail ministry, and assisted as needed in women’s ministry. She currently leads a neighborhood Bible study, which gives her a unique area of influence.
I am a pastor who does not do ministry alone. Jeana is with me. We have done ministry of all kinds together through the years, from mission trips to funerals to weddings, to so much more. In my service as President of the Southern Baptist Convention, she was there with me. In my present service as the President of the National Day of Prayer, she is there with me.
4. Live life together.
Jeana and I have noticed something in the lives of many ministers and their wives. Many of them live life alone. The wife goes one way and the minister goes another. This is very unhealthy.
Since 1985, Jeana and I have spent Fridays together. Can you believe that? It is rare we are not together on this day. We live life together during the week and on the weekends. Yes, when the children were home, our lives were focused on them, but we still did life together.
Live life together. Ministry and marriage are hard enough. You do not need to fly solo. That is not good for either of you or your marriage. Find a regular time to spend with your spouse. You will not regret it.
5. Honor God’s calling upon your life together.
God is the One who has called you into ministry. If you sensed God’s leadership to marry your spouse, and I assume you did, you must believe that God has called you to walk in ministry together.
Honor God’s calling upon your life together. Do not take it for granted. You have a holy calling upon your lives, both husband and wife.
You have not been called to business, entertainment or politics, but the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is holy. This is your calling. Live worthy of this call to ministry. Honor God’s calling upon your life together.
Follow Him wherever He leads you. He has a great plan for each of you individually and as a couple. Surrender your marriage to Him now in a new and fresh way. He has wonderful things in store for your life and ministry together.
This article originally appeared here.