Navigating Callings Within a Marriage

In this video, Erik and Donna Thoennes share insights on how Christian spouses can encourage each other to fulfill their vocational and ministry callings.


The following is a lightly edited transcript; please check the video before quoting.

Erik Thoennes: I think all Christians are called not just to be disciples but to be ministers, and I think the details of what that calling looks like can vary throughout our lives. And so, I’m not someone who thinks that there’s a clear biblical teaching on a calling, but I think we need to follow God’s leading and see what opportunities he brings to us in being faithful to him in whatever that looks like.

And so, in marriage, we have the same calling, to be disciples and to be ministers, and then God will add lots of details to that as we go. That for us has included raising four children. It’s included being in ministry in a local church as a pastor and as Donna started ministries and very active in that way.

We both have been professors at Biola University where we’ve been part of the discipleship of students. And so, a lot of times, our ministries have completely overlapped. There haven’t been a lot of times where we lived in different worlds. I would think that’d have been incredibly hard to do well. And so, when we have the same fundamental gospel callings in our lives, there’s a simplicity to it where we simply want to be faithful in whatever that looks like.

Donna Thoennes: Yeah. I think it’s important to not have two very different worlds. I think that, that could be really challenging for a marriage. And so, but yeah, when the fundamental things are shared in common, and you’re moving in the same direction, and you’re worshiping together, and serving together, then yeah, some of the details are maybe less important than those things that you have in common.

Erik Thoennes: The gospel puts a calling in our lives. As disciples, the Great Commission puts a calling in our lives to make disciples and be part of gospel advance in the world. And obviously, our local churches need to be the fundamental environment, family that we do that in, and then our vocations, whatever those may be, get added to that. And we need to tremendously support, and encourage, and dive into those vocations when they do take us in some different directions. But I think it’s so important to take an interest, and be involved, and be prayerful, and really care about things that we may not be directly involved with as a husband and wife, but recognize, and cheer on, and champion what the other one is doing.