Hi Jack,I'm a college student who is looking forward to continued ministry after school. I have felt called to missions since I was very young and I'm very involved in local ministry currently. I'm dating a fellow student who is also a believer but he does not sense a call on his life to ministry right now.We're seriously considering our future together and marriage is being discussed. Everyone around us (family, church, friends) says that we belong together,but would it be possible to be married to someone who doesn't share the same calling?Elizabeth
Thanks, Elizabeth, for sharing your personal dilemma with me. I’ll ask you a question, give you some suggestions, and then end with a personal testimony.
A question: since you have felt called to missions, why wouldn't you share this call with your friend when you first started going out with him? Perhaps you felt it would seem to be more appropriate to speak of your future call if and when your relationship had become more serious. The problem is that this lack of transparency on your part puts both him and you in a very difficult position. The day may well come when you will have to choose between him and the Lord's call on your life.
. The big issue is whether he is called to missions or not, and it would not be good for your relationship or your future if he opted for a missionary career just to follow you, and I don’t think you would want this scenario either.
What to do? Some suggestions:
" Before the Lord, you need to review your call to missions. Is this an automatic response because your parents were missionaries, and possibly your parents consciously or unconsciously expected this of you, or has the Lord really called you? Take time to work this through and write out your conclusions and how you came to them. You may want to talk to a counselor to get some objectivity.
" If you arrive at the conclusion that God is indeed calling you to be a cross-cultural missionary, and if you haven’t done so already, you need to share with your boyfriend your call to missions. In other words, you appreciate the friendship and depending on how serious it has become, he needs to know what your commitments are.
" Now it’s up to him. Before the Lord he needs to search his own heart as to his own calling as a Christian. You cannot assume that he will in turn be called to missions, though it may be that the Lord will use your friendship to open his eyes and heart toward this ministry.
" If things begin going down this road, I would encourage both of you to cool your relationship so that he is able to do some serious thinking and praying about what the Lord has for him.
" From time to time it may be good for you to study the Bible together, but it would be better for him to be discipled by another man. Spending a lot of time together may complicate the whole experience of his seeking the Lord, as he possibly falls more and more in love with you – and you with him.
I hope you have a mature Christian woman that you can share your heart with at this stage. Our emotions are very powerful and we can easily be influenced by them and distracted from the quiet voice of God.
Elizabeth, God loves you and knows your desire to be loved by a man and to be married one day. However, the most important thing in life – as I’m sure you will agree – is to follow the Good Shepherd. If you stay close to Him, He will guide and protect you. His is the only sure way.
May the Lord help you both discern His purposes for each one of you.
In His Grace,
Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything that I need.
Ps 23 (The Living Bible)
Now my personal testimony. I met a girl as a freshman in college who swept me off my feet the first time I laid eyes on her. In short, I was smitten. At the end of the first year, I told her that I was falling in love with her, and that if we continued on in our relationship undoubtedly I would ask her to marry me. However, I was stymied since though both of us were interested in missions, she was studying pre-med and I didn’t feel that marrying a doctor would help us form a team in the calling I felt I had received from the Lord. I knew that this was a huge decision so I gave her a full year to think and pray about it.
She did so. We continued to see each other, but we decided we would also see others, and would not consider ourselves engaged or uniquely committed to each other until she had made her decision. Needless to say, this was not an easy year for me, and I did a lot of praying! So did she. It was a precious time of seeking the Lord, asking Him whether He wanted her to get married, and how He wanted her to use her life and her gifts. I was blessed when she announced at the end of the year that the Lord has led her to be married, and to marry me. We just celebrated our golden wedding anniversary. Love that woman!