As I get older, more and more people volunteer their services (usually unasked) to find me a suitable husband. In fact, just the other day one of my co-workers caught me between meetings and said, “I found your husband—he’s my doctor! And I have another appointment with him this afternoon, so I’ll interview him some more.”
Actually, it’s not just a recent phenomenon; almost since I graduated from college “The Committee to Find Jen a Mate” (TCFJAM for short) has been active and developing new branches as far away as New York City, Cincinnati, and even London. They are a fun group—we’re all getting t-shirts soon.
When a zealous Committee member decides they have discovered The One, they must first submit to a list of questions: How old is he? Is he a Christian? Is he a minister? If the answer to the first question is over 35 (or, “Ummm….”), the answer to the second is no, or the answer to the third is yes, I used to say no thanks.
My experience growing up in the church and watching my parents lead and serve was an extremely positive one. (I now realize how careful they were to speak positively of the church and its leaders so that I would grow up feeling this way.) But even the happiest “PK” has experienced church dysfunction and politics, change at the pace of icicles melting, and just plain mean people. My own portfolio of horror stories has expanded as I’ve served churches and church leaders in my professional life for the past eight years, and I now have very little desire to work on a church staff.
So it seemed logical to veto any possibility of marrying into the position—after all, no one works for the church like the pastor’s family.
But in the last few years, I stopped asking that third question—or at least basing my decision on it. (There are usually plenty of other reasons to reject TCFJAM’s suggestions.) Like Sue Wilson writes in a recent Christian Standard, a calling to ministry can take many forms. Even as I’ve seen “the dark side” of church, I’ve also met many women who love their role as partner and supporter in ministry, and who wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I spent last weekend with some good friends who have served in ministry all six years of their young married life. They talk candidly about the frustrations, the strain it has at times placed on their marriage, and the sacrifices they’ve made. But they also speak of the joy of serving, and much of our conversation throughout the weekend focused on their dreams for the future.
It doesn’t seem like an easy gig, but it no longer seems like such a bad one. Then again, neither does marrying a doctor.