Working with your spouse in youth ministry can be awesome! Your spouse is the person you feel the most comfortable with, the one that makes you the best you, and together you two are the best team. I have worked with my wife for most of my time in youth ministry. She has done everything from worship leader, admin assistant, small group leader, and all around super volunteer. We work so well together, and honestly she is better at youth ministry than I am so it is awesome doing ministry with her! Working with your spouse in ministry can be awesome but it can also be very challenging. Here are a few things to keep in mind when working with your spouse in youth ministry.
1. Keep your expectations for your spouse the same as for your other volunteers
When I got my first full time youth ministry position and my wife became my first volunteer I was terrible at this! And to this day I have to admit, I am still learning. Your spouse is your partner in life so naturally you want to give them more of a work load and you trust them with that load because you know the type of work they produce and you know they understand your expectations. However, you need to realize that your spouse is not superman/woman. The last thing you want to do is burn him or her out on ministry because you expect them to be the super volunteer in your ministry. Often times your spouse will want to do more and take on a huge work load, and that is fine. But don’t expect them to. This will only result in burn out and hurt feels.
I used to say to everyone that my wife and I were a youth ministry package deal. I was the one that was paid but she was full time too. I would sell us as a team deal when it came to interviews, and impressing people. That was so stupid! Your job is not your spouses’ job. Hopefully, he/she will support you and be there for you but when volunteering in your ministry do not expect he/she to be anything other than a normal volunteer.
2. Don’t treat your spouse the same as your other volunteers
Wait a second, did I just contradict myself? Nope. Expect the from your spouse as you would your other volunteers but don’t treat him/her the same. He/she is your spouse! And the fact of the matter is your spouse not just another volunteer. When it comes to their treatment remember that you have to sleep next to spouse forever. If they can’t make it to something, they get in a tough situation, or if anything comes up they need you on their side as the spouse, not the boss. Yes, take care of situations fairly and appropriately, but give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes as the main youth leader or pastor a situation arises and we just expect our volunteers to handle it. When it comes to your spouse give them more of your help when needed. So, am I saying they get special privileges? Yes. My wife will get to know plans before everyone else, wear the new shirt before it is released, miss training meetings to be with our kids, and take phone calls in the middle of youth group(not that she actually would though). She is a volunteer just like my other volunteers, but she is not treated like everyone else, she is my wife. If you are looking to work in ministry with your spouse for a long period of time it is important to learn this quickly.
3. Protect them
A lot of crud happens in ministry. My wife has stood by my side through more ministry drama than I could even explain. But when it comes to your spouse volunteering in your ministry, protect them!! Protect them from burnout, from rumors, and from situations with students and parents (even more than you would any other volunteer). Your spouse is under the microscope as much or even more than you are and has a ton of pressure to deal with. He/she is going to pour themselves out to help you in your ministry, and will be an amazing volunteer. So, do your part and ensure that he/she is safe in your ministry.
4. Spend time with your spouse outside of ministry
Ministry has a way of taking over your life, especially when you and your spouse do ministry together. It is so important to be intentional about pouring into your spouse outside of ministry. Spend intentional time with them outside of ministry or church events. And try your hardest to not talk about youth ministry the whole time (this is one that I am working on!). Yes, ministry is a major part of your life, and it is probably a major part of you and your spouse’s life together, but be intentional about spending time together outside of ministry!
Your spouse can be your best volunteer, but it can also be very tricky balancing your marital relationship and your ministry relationship. Remembering these tips can make your ministry journey together smoother and more enjoyable.