If you have been involved in student ministry, whether as a volunteer or pastor, you know it’s a demanding ministry. If you don’t intentionally guard against it, student ministry will take all of your time, energy, and health away. That doesn’t mean we should look at student ministry as a bad thing, but we should realize it’s an important ministry that demands a lot from it’s leaders.
I would say one of the most important things you must guard is your relationship with your spouse. It’s sad to see how many student pastors have terrible relationships with their spouse because they spend so much time and energy doing student ministry. At the end of the day, we are called to be Godly spouses before we are called to be student pastors. So what are some practical ways we can protect our relationship with our spouse from the demands of student ministry? Here are a few I am pursing in my own marriage.
1. Have a date night. This is one of the best ways to protect your relationship with your spouse. Have a regularly, I suggest weekly, date night with them. If you can, leave your phone at home or turn it off! Do whatever you have to do to have a night that is reserved for just you and your spouse. If you don’t intentionally plan on this type of thing, you will never do it. Plan it, put it on your calendar, and don’t let student ministry rob you of this time with your spouse. (I love this post about creating a date plan)
2. Leave your ministry work at the office, the best you can. This is a hard one in our culture because with smart phones and laptops, we can do the same amount of work at home as we do at the office. But do your best to leave your work at the office. Don’t come home and answer more e-mails and do sermon prep, come home and be totally there with your spouse. Also, try to not even talk about ministry. Be flexible with this one though. There will be times where you will have to answer some phone calls, emails, or have to do some work at home, but make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. Make sure they are okay with it and understand why you are doing it.
3. Put your spouse’s needs above your student’s needs. No matter if your at home or on an activity with your students, your spouse’s needs ALWAYS come before the needs of your students. I have had to learn this the hard way, but I am convinced that God will honor the decision to always make sure your spouse’s needs are being meet first. This may be off subject, but don’t let your students cross any lines of authority and respect with your spouse. I remember one student pastor saying, “There are two people that my students know not to disrespect-Jesus and my wife.” Loving your spouse, protecting them, and putting their needs first is what your students need to see, even if it’s inconvenient for them.
These are just three practical ways I am striving to protect my relationship with my spouse from the demands of student ministry.
[Question] How do you protect your relationship with your spouse from the demands of your ministry?