Two for One

Jen Bradbury
Sep 16 · 5 min read

Throughout my career in youth ministry, people have occasionally asked me if my husband would be willing to do something.

I used to answer these questions on his behalf, (always saying "yes"), sometimes without first even checking with him.

You see, for a long time, my husband and I were a “two-for-one” deal.

At my first church, it was the senior pastor who initially told me how thankful he was they'd gotten us “two-for-one.” At the time, I naively thought it was a compliment.

At my second congregation, I actually had an interview that included my husband even though I was the one applying for a job. Again, I thought nothing of it.

But then, shortly before I left that congregation, the pastor told me, “When we replace you, we're going to look for another 'two-for-one' deal.” Right then and there, I realized I'd set a dangerous precedent for others. And I lost it.

Let's be clear here. The understanding that churches can and should get a “two-for-one” deal when they hire a youth pastor – especially a female one – is WRONG.

As a youth pastor, I want to know that when a church hires me, they're hiring me for my unique gifts and skills; I want to know they're not hiring me because my husband is awesome (which he is).

To assume a church will get us as a “two-for-one” deal is not only offensive, it minimizes the unique ways in which God has gifted each of us. It also leads to burnout, as neither person ever feels uniquely valued.

Now, at my third congregation, my husband and I have been intentional about differentiating ourselves from one another. He never came to an interview with me. In fact, he never set foot in our church until after I accepted the job. Though he's gifted in a thousand ways, I no longer volunteer my husband for anything and everything. Our need to be a church's savior has long since dissipated. And when someone else asks me if my husband will do something, I no longer answer on his behalf. Instead, I tell them to ask him directly.

As someone who loves Jesus and the church, if my husband has got the time and the gifts, he just might say “yes”. But he also might say “no”.

Either answer is OK.

What's more, having a genuine choice frees my husband to serve in whatever ways God is calling him to. That, in turn, allows him to be his best self.

Ultimately, that's something that's good for him, our marriage, and our church.