What Should Spouses Do When Their Callings Don’t Match Up?

Several years ago I was speaking with a student from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary who was in a degree program where the student completes half of it on campus and the other half on the mission field. He said, “I have completed my on-campus hours and am ready to study overseas. But, I have a problem: my wife isn’t willing to go.”

Discerning the Lord’s call is an important step for everyone seeking to walk with God. Questions about how to sort out this crisis of calling abound. More specifically for this conversation are the questions about how spouses discern a call together and what they do when they don’t seem to share the same calling.

Since all Christians are commanded to make disciples of all nations, the questions believers must ask are “To whom are we sent?” and “Where?” Not everyone will be called to pack their suitcases, sell all their possessions, and move across the ocean to reach the nations. But some will. When this happens, the cost must be considered for the benefit of the nations and for the sake of healthy marriages and families because healthy families are testimonies to the reality of the Gospel in a broken world.

If a marriage fails, the couple will be forced to leave the field, potentially leaving no witness behind.

Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3 teach that husbands and wives submit to each other and pursue God’s plan for their lives. One spouse should not base his or her call solely on the experience or discernment of the other.

Each must seek to discern God’s call. However, the Bible also depicts a husband and wife joined as one flesh. Although this union does not eliminate the individual responsibilities of each spouse to obey, when it comes to God’s call to missions there is no biblical basis for thinking that God will only speak to one spouse and neglect the other.

How to discern God’s call to the nations

God uses several tools to awaken hearts to this specific call. Couples should work through these individually and then together.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press, Lesley Hildreth