Why you may not want to marry a preacher

“Do not be unequally yoked…” 2 Corinthians 6:14 (a reference to Deuteronomy 22:10 where Israel is told not to plow with a team composed of an ox and a donkey).

We all agree that Scripture teaches believers should not marry unbelievers.

But, would it be an unequal yoke for one called into the ministry to be wed to a Christian who resents his calling and resists the demands that this life places on her?

Surely we can agree that not everyone should marry a preacher.

(The obligatory disclaimer: In our denomination, preachers are men. I know some women pastors in other denominations and respect them very much. But I know nothing of the pressures they face. Thus, for me to write for their situation would be highly presumptuous. Please do not write accusing me of sexism or prejudice against women. Thank you.)  

When I began this list a few days ago, mostly I intended it as a light-hearted piece since I’m a preacher and love pastors and their families.  Any woman who marries a called servant of the Lord should feel special to Him, I’m thinking, and she needs to know what she’s getting into. And then, I decided to ask for help.

I invited Facebook friends to suggest reasons why someone “might not want to marry a preacher.”  I expected soft answers. Oh my, the responses.

But first, here is my original list….

1. A preacher lives with his work 24/7/365.  Even on his off days and vacations, his mind is always on his work. If you want to be married to a husband who works 8 to 5, this man is not the one for you.

2. A preacher wakes up at night and gets out of bed to look things up and write down ideas.  HIs getting up and coming back to bed will disturb you. This is normal.  If you would resent such interruptions, do yourself and him a favor and say ‘no’ if he proposes.

3. Preachers live by faith, as depicted in Hebrews 11.  They will sometimes do the strangest of things for the flimsiest of reasons and the only explanation they can give is “I felt the Lord wanted me to do this.”  If you want a man who is never a mystery, keep looking.

4. Preachers live for others.  If you want a husband who is devoted only to you, choose another husband.

5. Preachers do not live as well materially as others, for several reasons.  One, the profession is not one of the higher paying careers. Two, they give a tithe and more to their church.  Three, they are generous in every other area of their lives. And four, even if money is plentiful, they would not want to live lavishly and set a bad example.  If you want to live in a mansion and have servants, choose another husband (and good luck with that!).

Soon, the comments from Facebook friends began pouring in.  To my surprise, most were as serious as a heart attack. According to several, young women not only “may” not want to marry a preacher but would be crazy to do so. 

So much hurt and anger came spilling out. These ministry wives were quick to say…

–“The preacher is never at home.”

–“You are the last of his priorities. Everyone comes before you and the kids.”

–“The church boards are cruel and selfish and demanding.”

–“A pastor’s wife is never allowed to have friends.  I’m so lonely.”

–“I have wished a thousand times I’d never married a preacher.”

–“The pay is insulting, the benefits imaginary, and the support from the churches undependable.”

Yikes. What is this, I wondered.  So much hurt, so much pain.

I was surprised that very few wives of ministers countered these statements with their own testimonies, saying how wonderful a life it is, how the rewards outweigh the burdens and stresses, how special a pastor’s wife should feel.

Their silence ought to tell us something.

Bottom line for all this…


–you do not feel a similar call from God on your life.  Otherwise, your expectations will be directed toward your husband and you will be eternally frustrated.

Someone asks, “Where in the Bible do you find God calling ministers’ wives?”  Answer:  Nowhere.  It’s just basic common sense, I think. You don’t find Him calling artists or agriculture specialists or communication consultants, but every mission field has people with gifts in these areas who can testify of God’s call upon them.

–you are not a person of prayer.  Only the strength of the Lord is going to protect you and empower your service.  Abide in Him always.  We “ought always to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

Of all scriptures, the verse which seems to fit pastors’ wives is 2 Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”

–you think a husband should be home every night for dinner and put you and the children first in his life.  (This is about you and your expectations.  We can hope the pastor/husband/daddy will get this right, but if you demand it, it’s all downhill from then on.)

My observation is there will often be tension between where a pastor wants to be this evening and where he should be.  No one can tell him what to do.  Pray for God to give him two things: great wisdom and an understanding wife.

–you do not love the people of the Lord. Nothing helps us to treasure the Lord’s people more than a great love for Him and a healthy understanding of our own sinful, needy natures. “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30) should be the mantra for all of us.

If, however, my love for Him is a sometimes thing and my life revolves around me and my needs, this life is going to be a nightmare.

–you expect church people to always act like Christians.  We all—every church leader!–do well to lower the expectations we put upon others. Remember these people are “but dust” (Psalm 103:14).  Most will get this right, but some church members can be childish, demanding, mean-spirited, and as carnal as anyone in the worst tavern in town.  Do not be blind-sided by their misbehavior. Stay prayed up.

–you cannot live with people scrutinizing everything you do, from how you raise your children to the way you wear your hair.  You must be able to ignore it or laugh it off. One lady used to tease me relentlessly about the suits I wore.  These days, she would be amazed how few preachers wear suits!

I will promise you one thing, wife of a minister:  From your home, you will see the worst side of the best people (God’s children).  But determine that you will love them anyway, and God will use you in amazing ways.

–and finally, do not marry a preacher if you expect your rewards down here on earth. The great payoff for servants of God comes not in recognitions and bank accounts down here but in the promises of God for a later time. “You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14).

If that sounds like so much smoke-blowing, please do the minister a favor and say ‘no’ when he proposes to you.  Do not saddle him with the burden of a spouse who is forever unhappy at his life-calling.

So, marry the man–if he asks and you and your folks agree this is “of God.”  I will tell you this from personal experience…

–There are 10,000 rewards to serving the Lord as a pastor and wife.

–There are indeed a thousand headaches and stresses. But these come in every career. It’s called life.  The minister’s home will have its share but so does every other residence up and down the street.

–Nothing helps you stay focused on keeping close to the Lord like knowing you have to teach that class Sunday morning (or preach that sermon) and need to stay on your knees and in the Word to do it well.

–God has a few sweet Godly saints in every church who will love you and pray for you and will compensate for the ogres.  Ask Him to show you who they are. Then, pull them close to you.

If God calls you to marry a minister, I pray He leads you to the right one, and that you will have–as Margaret and I did before the Lord took her to Heaven last January–52 years of service to Him, and a lifetime of satisfaction in knowing you made a lasting difference in people’s lives.




19 thoughts on “Why you may not want to marry a preacher

  1. Nothing is too difficult for the Lord. If it is God’s will for me to marry the preacher, I will, believing He will make it up for me for all the shortcomings of my husband/preacher. All I ask is that he will find time to pray together with me.

  2. I, for one, love being a pastor’s wife! We were dating when he decided he wanted to be a pastor. At that time I stepped back wondering if I fit the role of being a pastor’s wife….I mean, I didn’t play the piano! Nor did I consider myself submissive enough and spiritual enough for the role! And did I really want to listen to this man preach for the rest of my life? This led to us splitting up for a year and a half. But during that time God changed both of us, preparing us for the ministry ahead. When we got back together I could see he’d developed leadership and preaching skills that were not there before. And his legalistic tendencies had mellowed while I had internalized my own faith and was trusting God to put me in a place where I could best serve Him. Did God call me to be a pastor’s wife? I believe He did for I don’t remember ever having resented this role that I’m in. It feels like a privilege to me.
    Again, I love being a pastor’s wife. God has given me a loving, considerate, and spiritually wise husband who is balanced. He knows how to use his time well and is careful to spend time with me (and our children when they were home). He plans a few get-aways each year and I love him for it. We both love God and his work and enjoy serving his people (most of the time!) And our church takes care to generously provide for our financial needs, which is such a blessing! Of course, in our 34 years of ministry together, there have been some rough patches. There have been times when we’ve seen the ugly side of Christians, being hurt by the people we once trusted and embraced, but God has never turned on us. And He’s given us the strength and wisdom to see us through those times…. emerging on the other side a little wiser and more determined to keep our eyes on Him and not on people.

  3. Thanks for your post. Really encouraged. I am Medical doctor and certain about marrying a man who happens to be a full time Pastor. But my father says I can’t have his blessings. Sometimes the future gets scary, but I know this is what I really want. But who am I? I pray that it is truly God’s will. Because it’s difficult staying without being allowed to marry and yet, I know that this Pastor is a great one. Don’t know what to do.

  4. I’ve enjoyed every post, they’re very inspirational. I’m dating a Minister for the first time and I love him. I started my daily reading of the Word, saying daily prayers and sometimes I would meditate before we met. This is the best relationship I’ve had mainly bcuz he is serious about God’s business. With God every/anything is possible, What God has for us( His sheeps) no man can tear apart. God bless each of you and I send my love to you.

  5. It is the most challenging decision to make..having prayed God to give me a man who loves Him with all his heart and then here he is a minister …kingdom business wah!

  6. Bring souls to the kingdom is an awesome calling for Christians, especially pastors; and I am impressed and in awe of it.
    I am entertaining – dating a woman, pastor and the idea of supporting a pastor that leads others to Christ is epic..

  7. I will someday love to marry a minister of God am 19years old and also have a lot of spiritual gift in me I don’t struggle to do some certain things and I want to live my life serving others but my dad keeps telling me that he will never accept me to marry a pastor and my mum who is a catholic christian says she can’t allow me marry a man who is not from our church..Please what can I do about this??what if tomorrow I turn to love a pastor??

  8. I have been dating and engaged to a pastor, we were even blessed by our parents. I must say he hurt me so much to a point I almost never ever wanted to go to any church to listen to pastors. Most things that go on behind the curtains except when the pastors are preaching is are terrible. Only a wife of a pastor knows what am talking about. Good luck and happy for those that it has worked out with their pastor husbands. It took me time to heal from the pain he caused me. It was a nightmare.

  9. Good article: However, if this is the case, male pastors should be single. If he can’t put the wife and family first, which sounds like he can’t, he should not seek a wife. If a potential wife can complement, or he compliment her giftings and calling, go for it. And visa versa for a female pastor.

  10. Pastor ,i am bless with this teaching as a pastor here in Africa . It has not being easy with me because my expect so much from me.God bless you sir.

  11. Pingback: Church Girls: I DON'T WANT TO MARRY A PASTOR - The Right update

  12. Pingback: Church Girls: I DON’T WANT TO MARRY A PASTOR – The right Gist

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