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Playing "Second Fiddle" to His Ministry

Playing "Second Fiddle" to His Ministry

EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).

QUESTION: My boyfriend and I have been in a serious relationship for a year and a half. I would really like to see him working for us to get married but he says he is not called to have a secular job. He and his friend are the founders of a missionary organization which has been really blessed by God, but it seems to be preventing our relationship from moving forward. I struggle with being second in his life, because ministry is first right now. Am I missing a sign? I love him and want to marry him, but I am also very independent and can be completely okay on my own. 


When I read about your circumstance, I couldn’t help but hear the words Paul spoke to the Corinthians resonate in my mind.

An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord.  But a married man is concerned about the things of the world, how to please his wife, and he is divided.

(1 Corinthians 7:32-34)

The struggle you are having appears to be the result of a difference of direction for the both of you at this point in your lives.

Your boyfriend has co-founded this missionary organization and is spending more time on his calling rather than on his relationship with you.  As a result of his efforts though, the ministry has been blessed by God.

Even though you clearly see this, you want something else for him and for your relationship.  You want to get married, you want him to work a secular job and you want him to put you first in his life.  As difficult as it may be to hear (and accept), your boyfriend may not be the one God has called you to be with, at least not for now.

This is not to say it won’t ever happen or you are wrong to have the feelings you do, nor he “more right” for working so hard on his ministry.  We are all created differently, called to different purposes for a specific time and place.  

This may not always be the case in your boyfriend’s life, but according to your own words, and at this moment of time he seems to be a man concerned about the things of the Lord, rather than things of the world.

If his work is truly blessed by the Lord, as much as you love him and want to marry him, deep down you probably know you don’t want to be the one who keeps him from doing what God has called him to do.

It sounds as if you have put pressure on him to make a choice.  Give him some time and space.  If you continue to put a full-court press on him to make a decision, he will likely choose his calling over you.

To the unmarried and widows I say that it is best for them to remain as I am.

(1 Corinthians 7:8)


All relationships can be hard at times, but being in a relationship with someone so devoted to ministry can be extra hard. I am in full-time ministry myself, making my personal time for others a challenge. Let me first pose some questions to you. You say you have been in a serious relationship for a year in a half.  Serious to the point that you have talked about marriage?  You have implied that he feels he would need to give up his ministry to marry you. Why do you think he would need to do this? There are many married people in full-time ministry. What a way to build your marriage, your relationship, by having you both support his ministry.  

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

You also said that you thought his ministry took priority over your relationship based on how much time he is spending with you. Have you talked with him about this and how you feel? New ministries and businesses take a lot of time to grow. It may appear he is prioritizing when, in fact, he is just working the extra hours to keep the ministry growing. Perhaps you can help him with the ministry. This way you could have that extra time with him plus allow the Lord to show you why your boyfriend is so passionate about the ministry. If you are going to be his wife, you will need to learn to love the ministry that God has called him too as well.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 

(Ephesians 5:33)

On the flip side, if he is truly ready for a serious relationship that is working towards marriage, then he will need to set time apart to be with you as well. He will have to find a way to balance. So spend some time in prayer, reading your Bible and asking God for the right words to say. Then I would sit down with your boyfriend and share how you feel. If he doesn't have time to put into building your relationship, then he doesn't have time to be married. Just trust the Lord that He is in control, that your relationship is His. You want to be married to who He has chosen for you. I pray the Lord's peace as you move forward.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

(Psalms 28:7)

HE is … Cliff Young, a contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.

SHE is … Kris Swiatocho, the President and Director of Ministries and Ministries. Kris has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 25 years. An accomplished trainer and mentor, Kris has a heart to reach and grow leaders so they will in turn reach and grow others. She is the author of three books: Singles and Relationships: A 31-Day Experiment (co-authored with Dick Purnell of Single Life Resources); From the Manger to the Cross: The Women in Jesus' Life; and the most recent, Jesus, Single Like Me with Study Questions (includes a leader's guide and conference/retreat of the same name).

DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the twenty-first century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!). 

GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that this column will be an encouragement to you. Click here to visit the He Said-She Said archives.

Publication date: November 22, 2012