Al Mohler on Marriage and Ministry Crisis

Al Mohler – President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: When you think of all the things that might demand our attention, it’s hard to come up with anything that is more important than this: Marriage and Ministry.

Jesus Stills the Sea

Luke 8: 22 Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them,“Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they beganto be swamped and to be in danger. 24 They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

In the introduction (first 1/2 hour) Al Mohler talks about assuming the role of President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the spring of 1993.
  • Everybody reacts differently in a crisis, some people just disappear. You’re gonna discover who your friends are during a crisis because they’re the ones standing with you.

Normative picture of a minister in the New Testament: One who is married to one wife; representing the covenantal commitment and the integrity and fidelity of that love.

Ten principles for marriage during ministry crisis

  1. Your marriage and your ministry are inseparable. That’s not an uncontroversial statement. Your marriage is who you are and that commitment you’ve made and covenant fidelity n marriage and that commitment you’re going to make is a commitment prior to your calling to any specific place in ministry. You are not going to ever be able successfully to separate your ministry or your marriage because if you think you’re doing that, you’re lying to yourself and you’re setting yourself up for a horrible disaster. I’ve known pastors who had tragic marriages and were great exopsitors, but that was a clear limp, at least. And I have seen several of them come to the end of their ministry and you realize there is something horrifyingly missing even now. We can’t just act that our marriage and our ministry are inseparable, they’re not because we’re not individually separable from our call and we’re not individually separable from our covenantal commitments. We are all we are all the time. If we suffer under the illusion that we can somehow set our marriage on the side and our ministry on the other side, that we can set them apart as 2 distinct dimensions of who we are, we fool ourselves.(47 min)
  2. Your marriage will anchor your ministry, not the other way around. Never for a minute think that the ministry’s gonna save your marriage. It won’t. Now, your marriage can save your ministry. If you think you can find better fulfillment that will compensate for what you don’t have in your marriage, you’re doomed.
  3. Your marriage will determine your state of your heart, not your ministry. The state of our heart is a very urgently important thing because we’re never higher than our heart.
  4. Your home is to be your haven in a heartless world. In other words, when you go out in the world expect to be hurt, ministry is a risk, you are exposing yourself to criticism and injury. You can be hurt at home… but you better not be hurt n the same way and it has to be the haven from those hurts.
  5. Your wife must be a partner in ministry, not a mere observer. If she is you’re living in a bifurcated world and setting yourself up for disaster.
  6. When crisis come, lean on each other, drawing strength from each other. It’s just common sense, that is what marriage is all about. You lean on Christ and you lean on each other and you’ve got to be careful about leaning on e=anyone else.
  7. Protect her heart and trust in God. If you think that what you are going to do is protect your wife from reality, that’s not going to work. That’s making her into an observer, sometimes even a distant observer, not a participant. But, if you take everything home to her, in terms of your hurts, you need to be careful when you have a moment of anger, or you’ve been let down, that you don’t poison her view of someone, horrifyingly.
  8. Protect your children and interpret events for them and live confidently. Children don’t need to have all the data… they just need to know you’re happy with mom, and you’re secure in your calling and that you’re confident in Jesus.
  9. If you have to choose, lose the ministry, not the marriage. And, the second thing you would have to say after that is, „If you lose the marriage, you’d better lose the ministry anyway”. If you get to that point… and I don’t mean just because your wife doesn’t want to live in this state, or you got hurt feelings and you wanna go home. I mean, if you realize, „I can’t do this, I can’t stay here and stay married”… Then Stay married! God’s sovereign. If He’s called you, you’ll get to a place where you can stay both faithful in ministry and faithful in marriage.
  10. Aim to grow old and happy together. The biblical picture here is really rich. Plan a life from beginning to end together.

Leading Your Family Through Ministry Crisis from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

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