Identity: Ministry, Marriage, and Family

An observable pattern in ministry often reveals a pathology in the leaders: many ministry marriages and families fail to the point of discrediting or destroying ministry, and many ministry leaders ignore the more important and fundamental foundations upon which kingdom leadership rests.

For example, a preponderance of leaders who find identity in ministry undermine the foundations of marriage and family.

1. Your spouse didn’t marry a preacher. They married a lover. They didn’t marry a prophet or deliverance expert. They married a companion. THey didnt’ marry a life coach. They married a completer.

When the foundations of kingdom culture are ministry, and the identity of leaders comes from calling, as a first point of reference, marriage and family suffer. While some international leaders assume Paul meant to remain married because it takes away from ministry, thus postulating that calling trumps marriage and family relationships, they are wrong. They are missing the more important foundation of kingdom culture in their rush to spiritualize personal identity.

When fathering kingdom leadership, we do not begin with calling. We begin with creation. God began creation producing marriage. Then and only then, did He say, “Multiply and take dominion.” You ministry will only be as strong as your marriage, and you will only be as happy as your children as you grow older. All attempts to prioritize ministry over kingdom fail because of the obviously unBiblical idea that marriage and family are personal, none of anybody else’s business, and distant all considerations of calling, gifts, anointing, and leadership. A foolhardy supposition!

2. God doesn’t base identity on calling. The Son of God is the Son of God. He has a calling and assignment that He is perfectly fulfilling, but Father does not identify Him by ministry. He is Son representing Father. When the vision of John recognizes Him as Lamb, we still do not see a change of identity but a fullness of identity to which He arrives by obedience and submission.

The reality is if Jesus doesn’t finish His assignment, He remains Son of God. That is a purely ridiculous fantasy considered for the sake of discussion alone, for He is perfectly obedience and submissive to Father because that is what being His Son means.

So, none of us gain identity from calling and gifts since we receive identity in creation. Attempts to behave in ways consistent with ministry always damage the soul and all the relationships that join with it. Thus, a pattern of diminishing may be observed among ministers who gain identity from ministry, and their priorities turn from kingdom culture to performance at the expense of their spouses and children.

They find it easy to justify this by pointing to the benefits of ministry in others while dismissing discussions of diminishing marriage because they assume their spouses and children to be sacrifices to their higher calling. No higher calling exists. It is delusional to assume higher calling when God creates marriage and family as priorities!

Kingdom Culture

This is a good example of attempts at kingdom that ignore kingdom culture. Ministry becomes something odd and out of step to kingdom because it ignores kingdom culture. The resulting dysfunction piles up on the side of the road as wreckage: tens of thousands of leaders lying about too wounded to fight.

To assume we know better than our Maker is high dollar stupidity.

When we accept the world as a framework and its culture as a filtering system, our kingdom performers, like famous movie stars, singers, and cultural icons, experience two, three, and four marriages with children that act like hellish hooligans. Suicides in ministry occur. Children on drugs mar our private lives with pain. Leaders empty of soul turning to adultery and pornography as outlets for coping while maintaining the empty hallelujah of performance.

It is the reality of the kingdom we hope to ignore, or worse, as has now become pandemic, to justify with exaggerations of love, honor, and grace.

There is no amount of grace that makes adultery something we can ignore. There is not amount of love that gives God’s people a preacher addicted to porn. There is no honor that covers perversion. Marriage and family dysfunctions are not personal problems to be privatized; a kingdom leader’s marriage and family are everybody’s business because kingdom culture asks for integrity.

Ask Questions

As a fathering leader, I ask questions. I expect accountability about a leaders personal life to be the business of leadership, and I assume anyone running from those questions to be hiding something that should be available for inspection.

Really? Yes, really. I know that would empty most platforms of leaders. And, I know you are assuming that have expectations of perfections. You would be wrong. The point of being accountable isn’t about not having any problems but being teachable and transformable.

So, I can work with people in ministry with imperfect marriage and family realities as long as they are teachable and transformable, fully submitted to a process of improving kingdom culture in their personal lives. I cannot abide the most anointed leader for ten seconds who disdains accountability by offering me, even selling me, on the power and authority of ministry.

“A hundred were healed,” says very little to me when the hotel room pornography after the meeting answers to long ignored marriage issues.

Come off the road and prioritize your family instead of using the needs of people and the expectations of ministry performance to excuse you from being the man or woman you were created to be as the only healthy basis for representing God.

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Dr. Don

Dr. Don

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