You may ask why I’m blogging about dating a pastor…well, it’s the most searched topic that land people at my blog over the last year and a half. Everyday someone in the world searches about this particular issue, so why not start off the year solving the world’s most pressing problems?
Here’s my deep thoughts about dating a pastor (assuming that you are dating with the intent to then marry that pastor):
1. Being married to a pastor is like being married to a movie star, except for without the money, cars, maids, cooks, hairdressers, clothing designers, and gated communities…It’s life in a fishbowl. Everyone in your world really does care what you do…and probably rightfully so. It’s one of those jobs where, like Tiger Woods, your character matters a lot. Except for your “sponsors” aren’t Nike and AT&T. Your sponsors are real people who really do depend on your life being lived according to the Bible.
2. You should probably believe what your potential future spouse believes theologically and philosophically. It just makes life easier if you are both going the same direction because everything is tied together…parenting, ministry, income, church vision and direction…there is no compartmentalizing the life of a pastor’s family.
3. Dating a pastor is a long term commitment to servanthood. It’s not like a volunteer position on the weekends. It’s a lifestyle of serving when people need you. This is often inconvenient, awkward, and draining. It takes unusual stamina and a resolve to keep going through the hard parts of other people’s lives with them, no matter what comes your way. Problems always come up during dinner, vacations, and Saturday nights before church.
4. Along with serving comes a lot of conflict resolution. If you are looking for a life of conflict, try ministry. You get to lead a fleet of volunteers, grow people on a journey with Jesus, and be involved in their most intimate and embarassing issues, which can often result in what is perceived as you being judgmental, even when your intentions are steeped in love. Pastoring and ticking people off go hand in hand…it’s not always pretty, but it’s part of the job description.
All that being said, ministry is also the most rewarding life I can imagine. People really do love and appreciate their pastors. As partners in ministry, you are on the front lines of seeing people’s lives being changed and you hear every story of victory from your congregation. Much of the time ministry drips with love, miracles, and stories of changed lives. If you’ve paid the price of walking through the fire with people, they will often repay you with love and undying devotion to your life’s work. It’s the most humbling exchange in the world.
So, if you are dating a pastor, seriously consider whether you are up to the challenge. The people in the congregation need you to be at the top of your game. Not just for the few months of giddiness in new love, but for the rest of your life. It’s a bit of a commitment.
If you make it to the altar with your pastor in wedded bliss, I wish for you that you will be as happy as I am married to Mark Newell and serving at North Creek Church. It’s a pretty sweet deal I’ve got going!
Stacy, thank you so much for sharing this information. I’m not dating a pastor, but I’m married to a man who is on the path toward a Master and PhD in theological studies, so I might one day be married to a pastor! We’ve both served several years in the church, in lay ministry, so I have an idea of what it might be like to be a pastor’s wife but as we have not yet found a ‘home’ church for the time that we are here in seminary, I haven’t had anyone who I could ask ‘what’s it going to be like if I become a pastor’s wife?’ This post provides some helpful insight, so Thank You!