Growing up a PK (pastor’s kid), I saw the many hardships my dad faced both financially and spiritually, along with the criticism and demands. As a result, I stamped my foot and said, “I’m never going to marry a pastor.”
By the time I entered college I was still determined to marry a man with a “regular” job. So as I began my MRS. degree, I made sure to stay far away from anyone planning to enter Christian ministry.
But of course, God has a sense of humor and he decided to make me eat my words. That fall of my freshman year, a guest speaker challenged my entire way of thinking by sharing about the underprivileged and the hurting in our country. By the end of a week of listening to him, I knew I couldn’t live a “normal” life.
I came to a place where I wanted God to use ME in ministry. Once God had hooked me, it became clear that I’d need a partner who also felt the same about God using HIM.
I’d gone from “never” wanting to marry a pastor to “needing” to marry one. I laid my fear on the altar. I gave up my rights. I told God that I would stop trying to control my life and would let Him have His way.
Once I surrendered my control to Him, I still floundered with how to choose the right person. How would I know who to partner with?
As I tried to sort out the answers, I gleaned three pieces of advice from the wise people in my life at the time. They’re three pieces of advice I’ve begun to share with my own teenage children. In fact, they’re three pieces of advice all parents can share with their sons and daughters as they prepare them to choose a mate:
1. Pray for God’s wisdom in the decision. Maybe we think that God won’t care or won’t really help us with finding a mate. But Philippians 4:6 says,
In everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
That word everything means that we can take ALL of our requests to Him.
When we come to Him with our requests, He promises that He’ll give us wisdom.
James 1:5 says,
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all.
If we turn to Him during this critical phase of choosing a spouse, He WILL give us wisdom.
2. Seek counsel from godly people. That includes our parents, pastors, mentors, and perhaps even couples whose marriages we admire.
In my upcoming novel, An Uncertain Choice, my fictional character Lady Rosemarie deals with this very real life situation. She’s presented with three different, but equally honorable men. As she weighs out the choices and wavers with uncertainty, she seeks out advice from the older and wiser people in her life including her godfather, her nursemaid, and the abbot.
All too often in today’s independent-minded culture, we don’t want anyone else telling us what to do or how we should do it, especially when it comes to dating or relationships. But with this ultimate decision, that has such far reaching consequences, that pride could be our downfall.
When we make choices about college, jobs, or even a car to purchase, we usually seek out advice and opinions before making the decision. How much more important is it to seek out godly counsel for a decision as huge as our spouse?
3. Study the potential mate’s character qualities. In addition to praying and seeking godly counsel, we can begin preparing ourselves for choosing a mate by thinking about what qualities are important to us in another person, as well as looking at their faith, values, interests, personalities, and backgrounds.
My character, Lady Rosemarie took opportunities to study the three noble knights that were vying for her attention. She evaluated what she had in common with the men and even looked at their strengths and weaknesses and how those might fit with hers. Like Lady Rosemarie, as we sort through character issues, we’ll be able to enter relationships with more thought and purpose instead of leaving the decision up to feelings (which aren’t always reliable).
Back to that girl (me!) who adamantly insisted that she’d never marry a pastor. Well, she married one.
As I prayed for wisdom, sought godly counsel, and studied the character traits of potential mates, God brought the right man along, a man with a big heart for serving Him as a youth pastor.
Even though my husband is now in ministry as a Christian counselor, we’ve served many of our twenty-five years of marriage together. I’ll remain forever grateful for the wise advice given to me those many years ago. It’s the kind of wisdom all of our young people need as they navigate the confusion and uncertainty of choosing a lifelong spouse.
(Original blog for FaithGateway by Jody Hedlund.)
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What characteristics do you pray about for your child’s future spouse?