By Ron Cook

Ron and his wife Rodetta have been married for 41 years. They have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. Ron ministers to hundreds of pastors annually through mentorship, counseling, and by phone. He has been a Pastor for 40 years and understands the stress of ministry, and wants to share his longevity in ministry with other pastors and help them finish well.

    You Must Prioritize Your Marriage Over Your Ministry

    Wednesday, February 10, 2021

    By Mark Dance

    Have you noticed that some people have a hard time hearing “no” particularly those in our family and ministry? Others have a hard time saying “no”— particularly those who are called to love and lead churches.

    The moment Janet became my wife, all of my friends, family, and church members got an immediate demotion. When I said “I do” on our wedding day, I simultaneously said “no” to over seven billion other people.

    The purpose of this post is to help you see how prioritizing your marriage over your ministry actually strengthens your ministry. Here are three compelling reasons to consider dating your wife more consistently:


    Every Christian marriage is a picture and platform for the gospel. God’s Word instructs men to love our brides just like Jesus loved the church, His Bride (Ephesians 5). Jesus never told us to love His Bride more than our own brides.

    Since Jesus is my King, and Janet is my queen, all my other relationships have been consequently clarified, simplified, and modified. He made a clear order for us to follow, which starts with Him at the top and our spouse next in line of importance. Every time you reinforce God’s gospel order of relationships to your church or family members, you are discipling them.

    Modeling a healthy marriage is one of the most practical forms of discipleship we can give to the people we love. The more we strengthen our marriages, the more we have strengthened our ministries and families.

    Are you modeling a gospel marriage?


    The Bible does not teach pastors to balance our lives, it tells us to manage them.

    “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy‬ ‭3:5‬, CSB).

    Consistently dating Janet has not only served as an example for other marriages to follow, but also helped keep this pastor emotionally hydrated. When I over-invest in other people to the point of depletion, my soul needs to be refreshed. Jesus and Janet both serve as a deep well from which I draw unconditional love that I will need for the other people in my life.

    Are you protecting your marriage from your ministry by prioritizing your marriage over your ministry?


    I will never forget these anonymous words of a pastor’s wife, “My husband tells our church he loves them every week, and he tells me once a month.”

    That pastor was practicing a dangerous form of discipleship. He was not winning at home or at church, although he is required to do both (1 Timothy 3).

    Is there an awkward disconnect between your ministry and your marriage? If you are uncertain, ask your wife. Lifeway Research asked 720 pastors’ wives about their family and ministry.

    • 38% do not get the attention they need from their spouse because the church needs so much.
    • 44% believe the church expects the needs of their family to be secondary to the church.
    • 35% of spouses often resent the demands of ministry on their family.
    • 79% agree the congregation expects their family to be a model family.
    • 49% believe their family lives in a fishbowl.
    • 33% feel caught in a tug-of-war between church and family
    • 32% think their family does not have enough privacy.
    • 55% agree it is difficult to balance church and family.

    Consistently saying “yes” to your spouse will consequently bless and disciple those you need to say “no” to. Keep intentionally growing and protecting your marriage by dating consistently, because your ministry will never be stronger than your marriage.

    Click here to read the original blog on

    Mark Dance, D.Min. is the Director of Pastoral Development for Oklahoma Baptists, and Executive Director of Care4Pastors ( He frequently speaks at churches, conferences, and retreats. Read more from Mark at

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