To what extent should ministry goals be a deciding factor in dating relationships? Hypothetically, for example, if I feel called to give away half my income and be a missionary in Russia while she feels called to be apart of the music ministry in inner city Washington, D.C., does that mean we should consider looking for other partners? How much does ministry compatibility matter in choosing a partner?
It is important to be on the same page about the big things in life. When you marry someone, they become your partner in everything, ministry very much included. So it is important to have similar values and goals when it comes to ministry. But this differs from what you are talking about in two ways.
The first thing is dating isn’t marriage. Someone doesn’t have to have the same life ministry goals as you in order to have a lovely time over a couple of coffee. The more serious the relationship gets, the more you do want to talk about these things. This is an important distinction because people’s attitudes change and grow over time, which leads to the next issue with your scenario.
The way discover your calling in ministry very rarely happens the way you described. I know a whole lot of people in ministry, both vocational and volunteer and I don’t know anyone who simply executed their own vision for what they wanted to do at the beginning of their career. I’m sure it has happened that way in some case, but it is not common. Most people find their ministry calling by series of seeming coincidences, set in motion by having a broad idea of what they want to do.
Let’s look at your hypothetical. If being a missionary is what is important to you, what can you do in Russia that you couldn’t do in DC? It’s still talking to unsaved people about Jesus and loving on them, being a missionary is being a missionary for the most part. Or the opposite, if she wants to serve people in the inner city, I’m sure that Moscow or St. Petersburg have an inner city full of people she could lead in worship. Now if you are just called by God to totally different places, that’s a different matter than limiting yourself based on your own plans.
Pretty much all ministry has the same core: wanting to reach people with the good news of Jesus and wanting to serve people. You can start that today, you don’t have to wait for a passport or approval. If you set out to do that and ask God to show you how He wants you to do that, the details will take work themselves out, including your partner.
-Matt from The Bridge