In our church, we have several men with aspirations for ministry whose wives are at varying levels of acceptance of it. Some are just as excited as their husbands, while others are pretty convinced of the opposite of their husband’s desire for ministry. With those men who have clear gifts for ministry, but have wives reluctant to pursue it, here is the advice I give to those men with hopes it might serve others in the same place:
Preach and serve when given the opportunity. Use your gifts to serve the local church. If you have preaching gifts, preach when given the opportunity. If you have evangelistic gifts, use them every day you are around non-Christians. If you have gifts to shepherd people, disciple and visit widows when time allows. Serve the church with your gifts and include your wife. Serve together in ways that makes your wife’s gifts shine. Allow her to see the way the Lord has gifted you and be patient to watch if the Lord changes her heart over time.
Pray for your wife’s heart. Regardless what it is, if you and your wife have differing views or desires for your life and family, you should be praying for the Lord to align those desires whether it be issues of occupation, finances, parenting, or church life. This would include any pursuit of ministry. However, be willing for the Lord not just to change her heart to align with his will, but yours also.
Trust God will work. Your wife is the wife a gracious and sovereign God has given you. Trust that whatever you are to do with your lives, you are to do it together. If God can awaken us from deadness to life to see the light of the gospel, he can change the heart of a spouse to follow you where God leads you to take your family. Make sure you are zealously and patiently loving your wife as a lack of care can often times contribute to the resistance of whatever ministry pursuits you seek.
My wife was reluctant for me to pursue a Senior Pastorate. She was reluctant because she knew it would be hard and we had already seen reasons to fear that pursuit. Years later after coming to Auburndale, I heard my wife tell some friends when she heard me preach the first time, she saw gifts to preach, to a level she had not realized. Because she was humble, teachable, and desired the will of the Lord for us, she said she did not want to be responsible for having suppressed the use of those gifts and calling.
God changed her heart and it came through these 3 pieces of advice above. However, don’t assume if you do these the same result will come. Honestly desire what God’s will is for your life and your family as you are faithful to do these things, then trust God will show you both. Trust me, one of the worst things you could do is pursue full-time ministry with either of you half-hearted about it.