I remember the day I knew I wanted to become a youth minister. It was at a Steubenville Catholic Youth Conference in St. Louis. I was going into my sophomore year of high school and was awkward, sunburnt, and commonly referred to by girls as “best friend material.” (For those of you who have never been “best friend material,” it’s a high school girl’s way of saying you will never go on a date.)
The God moment came when a middle-aged, confident, male youth minister got on stage to speak and began to talk about his “beautiful wife.” He then said that he was “marrying up,” (marrying someone of higher status) because God had blessed him. As an awkward almost-sophomore in high school that was suffering from second-degree sunburns, dehydration, and didn’t have a date for homecoming yet, I realized what I needed to do in order to catch the woman of my dreams – I needed to become a youth minister.
In the coming years I would hear countless male speakers talk at length about their beautiful wives (also referred to as “brides,” “spouses,” “best friend,” “love of my life,” “the only woman on the face of the planet who can put up with my stinky feet,” etc.). In every talk it was apparent that they had hit the relationship jackpot and married a woman who was confident, beautiful, smart, supportive, and tolerant of a youth minister salary with a small one-bedroom apartment for the first five years of marriage.
As much as I tried to wrap my brain around it – I had to accept it as fact: Youth ministers marry up.
When I graduated from college I did pursue youth ministry. And as a youth minister I met the woman I will marry in September. And yes, I am marrying up (big time). She is smart, funny, faithful, confident, supportive, and deals with my smelly feet. She helps me be a holier man and will be my partner on the road to heaven. And in the past few months, I’ve gained a new perspective on “marrying up.”
I once heard someone say that “every guy in ministry feels they are marrying up because they strive to see their wife as God sees her – beautiful, unique, and a daughter of the King. How can you not feel you are marrying up?” And it is true. I am marrying up because I am marrying a daughter of the King, and I really see myself as more of a doorman. God has called me to be her husband and best friend (Hey! I guess I really was “best friend material”) – truly a blessed responsibility.
Now, I know you are wondering: Are you going to use the “I married up” line in a talk someday? Is the Pope Catholic? Did Jesus rise from the dead? I think you know the answer, my friends.
Question: Who is your support in ministry?