There is a fundamental wholeness about ones life in God so that it cannot be easily compartmentalised. The part relating to church cannot be separated from the part relating to the family. This means that if you have a family, the call to ministry can result in severe tensions. I have adapted this story, with permission from Rowley Croucher as it illustrates some of the issues involved. Hence I take full responsibility for its contents – Dr John Sampson
Rev Rowley Croucher article from ‘Grid’ reworked with permission
At the time of the Vietnam War a young Pastor in the USA married and entered the ministry. For the first year of his marriage he was serving in Vietnam and when he returned home he became heavily involved with the urban poor. His work was very challenging and his wife was a committed and supportive partner whose primary focus was on the children and home making.
He was so busy with the challenges of his job that he failed to notice that while his world was expanding and he was being affirmed on a daily basis, her world was closing in. She received little affirmation from the children and almost nothing from a tired husband who regularly arrived home late at night and flopped into the bed like a spent salmon.
She put up with it for years. What sort of Christian woman could possibly resent her husband investing himself unselfishly and sacrificially to the ministry?
For 15 years she kept her feelings to herself and this resulted in years of inner turmoil and spiritual doubt. She could only hint at her situation in the local church for fear of losing her self-esteem or jeopardising her husband’s reputation. Self-berating guilt and endless confession failed to rid her of her resentment at being subordinated to the demands of a ministry from which she was completely excluded. It was an enormous sacrifice on her part but never acknowledged.
Finally it boiled over in an almighty row that led them to seek counselling. When Pandora’s box was finally opened her husband at last became aware of the grave injustices he had committed against her.
He justified his behaviour as zeal for God, but it soon became clear that the real issue was not whether he loved God but whether he loved his wife enough to care about her well being.
He had never imagined that a call to ministry could become a seduction that might destroy his marriage.
Ten years later they were still working on it.