MARRIAGE AND MINISTRY: Can Ministry Become a Mistress?

The Dandelion Question
September 25, 2017
pastoring of pastors
The Pastoring of Pastors: Comforted in Suffering To Comfort Others (Video Interview & FREE Resources)
September 29, 2017

MARRIAGE AND MINISTRY: Can Ministry Become a Mistress?


Do you:

  • Spend more time doing the ministry instead of spending time with your wife?
  • Find a huge percentage of your conversation with your wife to be about ministry?
  • Retire to bed with ministry on your mind, and wake up with it still lingering?
  • Are you more concerned with the problems of your church members, more than the problems ailing your family?
  • find more satisfaction with your involvement at church so much so that you’d rather spend time there than with your wife and kids?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you may be at risk of making ministry your mistress. If you answered yes to all of these questions, then ministry has become your mistress.

So where does your wife and family factor into the scenarios above?

Ponder for a minute.

If it begins to become unpleasant, don’t stop.

You must be thinking, “are you kidding me?”

My answer is, “No, I’m not.”

Mistress is just another word for idol


I have heard cries after cries from too many pastors’ wives about how they feel ignored, left-out or abandoned. While some may verge on dramatic, there is a good number of those whose stories are legit, and too real to even ignore.

Just as an idol is not always an inanimate and visible image, but could be anything that steals one’s devotion and affection that is due to our God; a mistress doesn’t need to come in form of another woman. A mistress can be anything that takes the place of your wife and the privileges that belong to her, like your:

  • Affection
  • Time
  • Companionship
  • Intimacy
  • Attention

While we can’t deny the reality that ministry can become so demanding that it may come to the point of attempting to monopolize our time to do other things for the family and even for ourselves, we have to guard against this and not allow it to happen.

Can we control the situation? Can we control ministry from taking over our lives?

Yes, we can.

How do we manage the demands of ministry so it doesn’t become the mistress?


We can manage ministry in such a way that it doesn’t steal away precious time from the spouse and the kids.

We can reverse this unpleasant reality so that it doesn’t become the standard routine for our family life (nor the role model for our children to follow, God forbid). It is this exact reality that we must be strong and steadfast in keeping a keen eye on. We need to be intentional in safeguarding our relationship with our wife and kids.

Men who are not in ministry park their work at the office and when they are home, it is family time. What more for pastors who preach this at the pulpit?

Pastor, be as passionate about your family time as when you preach it to others.

A tale of two pastors

A pastor’s wife once relayed to me how she felt like she and her husband were just strangers under one roof. When her husband would start a conversation, it was always about church, his staff, the church board, the leaking faucet, the parking problem, the parishioner he had a delightful visit with. He seldom asked about the kids – how they were faring in school, what new thing they learned, what their adolescent child was going through. She honestly began to feel that she was more like a maid. She was expected to cook his food, wash and iron his clothes, get the house tidy and then sit at the table to listen to his day. Whenever she would try to start a conversation about domestic and family matters, he would be disinterested, at times cranky. So she resolved to just not talk at all. Ironically, this pastor’s ministry was as lackluster as his family life.

On the other hand, there is one pastor who has a flourishing preaching ministry. He is so in demand for speaking and preaching up to this day. Admirably, he is also known to be vocal about guarding his time with his family, especially time with his wife. He keeps a regular date night with her. He keeps a regular family date night with his kids. Both are non-negotiable. People didn’t understand at first, but later on began to understand and appreciate what he does. Couples in the church now passionately follow his example. He is highly respected not only in his church but outside of it, simply because he loved his wife and kids.

Lead in your family first


If you want to be a well-respected leader of your congregation, start with being that to your family.The leadership that you have in your family will just flow to your leadership in your church. You cannot expect the respect of your church as a leader if you do not have this in your home. Click To Tweet

Let’s take TIME, for instance. Time spent or wasted cannot be taken back.

Similarly, you can have more than one church ministry in your lifetime, but you have only one family.

Cherish this FAMILY that you now have.


Before you are a pastor, you are a husband. And before you are a pastor, you are a father. Before the church, your family.

When you care for your family, God honors that and will give you what you need to care for your church.

Take Action!

  • When was the last time you brought your wife out on a date?
  • When was the last time you went on a date with your kids?
  • How do you think your wife and children feel about your spending too much time in church and/or church-work
  • How do you plan to open up more of your time for wife and kids? List down these plans.


Donna Tan for the children postDonna Tan, from the Philippines, is a pastor’s wife, a pastor’s kid, a counselor, professional editor (for both academic and popular writing), resource speaker, writer, and blogger. Her passion is to minister to women (pastor’s wives in particular), couples and families. Donna’s ministry experiences span ages and cultures; having led youth and women ministries in the Philippines, as well as women ministries in the US (as a leader with Trinity Wives Fellowship from 2010-2012, in Deerfield, IL).

Donna is married to Dr. Jason Richard Tan (Ph.D.), and they have two children – Joshua (16) and Elisha (11). They have been married for 18 years. Jason and Donna are missionaries under GlobalGrace Fellowship (based in Pasadena, CA) serving the Philippines and Asia.

She is the Admin Director of Great Commission Missionary Training Center. You can connect with Donna through her blog

Leave a Reply