Married Couples on Leadership Teams

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Is it a good idea to have married couples on leadership teams together? This question is not asked frequently in the mission. Often the opposite is assumed desirable. (Please add your thoughts to the discussion page)

Why Married Couples Are Often Leading Together

  • They are both very talented
  • It is considered a joint ministry
  • They are asked to do so by leadership
  • It is hard for one partner not to be considered part of leadership "The Husband of the Base leader" often has to listen to lots of problems of others and has to offer hospitality and often there when issues are discussed informally.
  • There is a lack of other leaders (very common in pioneering situations)
  • A belief that a married couple are 'one' and hence must be considered together.

Married couples do not always find it easy leading together. They often have differences of opinion. Of course this can be very helpful in considering all aspects of problems and healthy Synergy can be produced. It can also be unhealthy as couples can also present a closed and unyielding shared opinion which is hard to deal with in team situations.

Some churches have the rule that couples can not serve together at the same time on the same councils or teams. This is because of the danger that they agree together against the group but also because of the pastoral reason that undesirable tension can be caused in their marriage.

Why it is Not Always a Good Idea

  • It is very hard to draw a distinction between work life and family life. This does not help couples set needed limits and introduces more danger of burnout and marital problems.
  • Staff can feel uncomfortable when couples sharply disagree or dispute together. Stronger emotion than is warranted by the issue at stake comes in to discussions due to familiarity. Also marital problems can be brought into the leadership arena.
  • Disputes and Accusations involving the leadership of one member of the couple happens from time to time and can cause immense stress. In disputes when spouses differ in opinion in the work arena they are unlikely to agree outside of the work arena. An opportunity to support each other is potentially lost. If an accusation is brought against one spouse in a leadership setting it can be tremendously hard for their partner to offer both unbiased moral support out of work and unbiased opinion in work.
  • Marriages are more important than leadership teams and yet the pressure of work can work against a healthy marriage.
  • Does not represent the variety and diversity that YWAM is and needs to be.
  • When any member of a leadership team is not up to the job it puts the idea of leadership into disrepute.
  • In the extreme a leadership team may be made up of mostly family members and they could be tempted to lay claim to the assets of a ministry. A healthy safeguard against the temptation to power and wealth is a wider leadership team made up of people who exhibit a healthy independence from one another.

When might it be okay

  • When a leadership team is committed to discerning GOD's will together, especially if the team has worked through how they will do this and have a covenant with each other. This is a team that practices "Listening to GOD together as well as Listening to each other." AND
  • When GOD has clearly called a couple to be leading together. Their leading together is as much what GOD is teaching them and forming them to be, and this Relational Wisdom is what they share to bless and disciple others. Some ministries within Family Ministries may be an example of this.


  • It is a brand new ministry

If it is a new ministry that a couple has started, it is wise for them to find other leaders to partner with them as soon as possible. In this way the ministry has a way to demonstrate unity to the world around them that is not just assumed when there is only the married couple. It is much more natural for multiplication (or growth) to happen when it is more than just the two.

GOD does give us all our own spiritual giftings and a couple can bring diversity in those giftings. GOD can call both husband and wife to be on leadership together at the same time, perhaps just for a season, perhaps for life.

Current Policy

There seems to be no clear guidance given in the mission and perhaps this is an area we need to see thought given to as we wish to see the mission grow. We need to offer some guidelines and advice to couples as to how to deal with the pressure and how to recognise a conflict of interest at work and how to resolve it.