And I learned that while we wouldn’t minister together, he would be my biggest fan. He would do everything in his power to see that his wife, his beloved, his dear one, fulfilled her calling to ministry. I can tell you now that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sorting Out Different Callings
Julie Van Til, an ordained minister with the Reformed Church of America (who currently serves at City Church San Francisco), went on a first date with her future husband, Andrew, the same day she handed in her resignation to the Bible college where she’d been teaching.
“I realized I was called to pastor in a local church,” Van Til said in a phone interview, “and while I loved teaching, I knew that I needed to take an off-ramp and get into the local church. He knew from the start that I was looking for positions in churches, and I knew that he was looking for a career in brewing.”
As she pursued her calling, he seemed willing to come along. And so a journey into full-time ministry began—a call that’s continued for over 15 years. It hasn’t been without pain, of course, mostly because it can be hard on others when we flip traditional gender roles. The Van Tils have had to figure out what it means for them to serve as they’ve been called—both individually and collectively. When parishioners ask Andrew what he does at the church, his reply is simple: he takes care of the pastor.
Each of us called to ministry while our husband is called elsewhere must figure out what it looks like to answer God’s calling, on our own and as a couple. And this looks different for every couple.
Get clear about your individual callings. Remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons” (4-6, NASB). Just as you’ve been given gifts and talents specific to your work in ministry, your husband has been given particular gifts and talents specific to his. His work might result in serving and leading alongside you or it might result in him ministering as your biggest fan. Either way, get honest with each other about how God is calling you.
Dream big—together. Tell those stories, the ones that have remained hidden within you. Dream dreams. Whisper hopes. Write down where you’ve seen God show up. What might God be doing in you individually and as a couple? Share honestly about how you and your spouse can grow in supporting each other.