All marriages are marked by defining moments. Those moments where a realization, decision, or experience changes something fundamental in your life and marriage. It can be big things like the direction of a career, coming to faith, and the birth of a child; or it can be simple decisions like choosing to cut spending to pay down debt. Some experiences are universally considered defining moments in a marriage (i.e. becoming parents); whereas some moments may be defining to one and not so much to another (i.e. choosing to pay down debt).
Pastor’s have their own unique set of defining moments. Below are four big defining moments in my own marriage that I believe to be common to the pastor’s marriage.
Four Defining Moments in a Pastor’s Marriage
1. The moment we realized that our calling to serve God’s people is a lifestyle, not just a career. We fell in love before the calling to pastor was confirmed. We even served in a church (or two) before we realized that this is not just a job— it is our life! Our marriage was further defined by being in ministry together and serving God’s people as a unit.
2. The moments in our marriage when we are tested by distractions or desires. Ministry is full of distractions, temptations, and derailers. Our marriage grew leaps and bounds when we walked through the fire of consequences for sinful choices and fought for boundaries and safeguards to ensure the enemy and our desires were in check. Our marriage was fortified when we got serious about protecting our marriage and calling the church against the lure of lust, pride, and power.
3. The moment we realize our greatest calling to disciple in our own home. We know that the greatest thing we can do for the Kingdom is not what we accomplish but who we raise. Discipling the little souls that God has given us in addition to discipling at the church is a lot of work. Our marriage gains purpose, unity, and God-ordained momentum when we get serious about leading our own kids to find and follow Jesus.
4. The moment when we accept that criticism is part of the calling. I’ve heard that those standing in front often get kicked in the rear. That is true for us. We live in a glass house with many people watching us and even criticizing our leadership or lifestyle often. At the end of the day, we live to please Christ, not man (Col. 1:10). Our marriage is more defined when we remember we are here to please Christ, not just oppose or answer those who throw stones.
Think about your own life – what are your defining moments? How have those moments defined you? Have you let them strengthen and draw you closer as a couple or have you allowed them to feed anger or cynicism and leave your marriage vulnerable?
If you’re a pastor or person in ministry, what defining moments would you add to this list?