Reader Question: What if God’s Telling Me to Quit My Job–but He’s Not Telling My Husband?

by | Jan 8, 2018 | Faith, Marriage, Uncategorized | 18 comments

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Reader Question: Should I quit my job? What if I feel like God is telling me to quit, but my husband doesn't agree?Should you quit your job? What if you feel like God is telling you to quit your job, but your husband doesn’t agree?

This week at Bare Marriage we’re going to be talking about how we do family life–how we decide when to work, when to have kids, and how to leave a legacy. And since on Mondays I like to answer reader questions, I thought I’d post this reader question to get us started!

Here’s a woman who is asking, “should I quit my job?”. She says,

I work full time, and I am pretty sure I can hear God telling me that it is time to stop working and be a housewife. I feel he has a mission for me, to go out and witness to people, I am very good at it and I love doing it!  I have heard God tell me so many things and my heart feels it is right. I have talked it over with my husband, but he says he doesn’t understand why God would tell me, and not him. In the mean time, my position at work is going away and I am going to be re-assigned to something else. I feel now is the right time to jump on God’s plan, I feel he has given me clue after clue, but I am worried my husband will be extremely upset if I do. My husband works at home, so it isn’t like we don’t have any income coming in, if I do. I also heard the Lord tell me that if my husband would let me be at home, he will bless him doubly. Can you offer me any guidance?

Absolutely! Let’s jump in.

Should You Quit Your Job? What if your husband doesn't agree? When to Quit Your Job | Should I Work?

I want to look first at just the generic question–when is it okay to quit your job? Then we’ll zero in on the more spiritual aspect of when you think you hear something from God, and your husband doesn’t, which, to me, is really the more important question!

Before you quit your job, decide on a budget together–complete with goals

Any time you’re wondering whether you should leave a job or whether you should change your work schedule and thus your income, you need to get on the same page financially. That means that you simply need a budget. No ifs, ands, or buts. You really can’t make this decision without seeing whether the finances work.

I’d highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, and his Every Dollar app.

Now, just because your current budget doesn’t work with less of an income doesn’t mean that you can’t quit your job. You could, for instance, decide to downsize. You could learn how to spend less on groceries. You could throw yourself into reducing your expenses.

But no decision about quitting your job should be made until you at least do the budget together.

Decide on your family’s goals

Part of doing that budget, too, is making goals. Do you want to buy a house? Do you want to pay off your house? Pay off debt? Save for retirement? Save for kids’ college? Take a vacation? And, if so, do you have a time frame for these things? If you don’t, you should. They won’t get done without a plan. Once you figure out what your family’s priorities are and you have a date for them, then it’s easier to see whether quitting your job is worth it.

Okay, so those are the financial considerations about quitting your job. Now let’s look at the relationship aspects.

Ask your husband what HE wants to do with work

I’m going to be totally blunt here: staying at home and not working is really, really nice. I stay at home and work, but there were years when I was home with my kids, and it was awesome. It was so much better than working.

And I’m sure that the wheels are turning in your brain about all the things that you could do if you didn’t have to work.

But my question would be this: Why is it that YOU don’t have to work, but your husband does? If it’s such a blessing not to be able to work, why is this a blessing that you should get and not your husband?

And even beyond that, if the goal truly is evangelism and reaching the lost, you have a job OUTSIDE your home, while your husband has a job INSIDE your home. So it sounds like, through work, you have more natural channels for evangelism than your husband does. If God was going to free one of you to do evangelism, then, it makes more sense that it would be your husband.

Now, I’m not saying that God ISN’T telling you that you are to quit your job–I’m just saying be very, very, very careful.

When we believe that God tells us something which lines up absolutely perfectly with the ideal way we want to spend our life, well, that’s when we especially need confirmation from other sources, like your husband hearing the same message from God.

So I’d say before you quit your job and live the life that you want to lead, you have a good, long talk with your husband and find out what kind of life he wants to lead. Maybe there are things that he’d like to do, too! Maybe you could both work part-time. Maybe you could switch careers. Maybe your husband would like a lower paying but less stressful job, which he may not be able to afford if you quit. You’re a team, and your preferences aren’t the only ones that matter, so just talk to him about his preferences, too.

Grow in God together BEFORE you decide to quit your job

Look, it may very well be that God is calling you to be home and to be an evangelist (though there is absolutely no reason why you can’t be an evangelist at work, either). But a principle in marriage is this one:

When God calls one spouse, he equips the other spouse.

He doesn’t call one spouse to something and then leave the other one in the dust. And I have seen so many marriages where one spouse chases after something that God supposedly told them, and then lays all kinds of guilt on the other spouse because they didn’t hear the message and they don’t like the life they now have, where they have to pick up the pieces.

I know people who say God has called them to quit work and pursue a ministry that doesn’t pay anything–even while the one spouse is home raising babies. I know people who say that God has called them to work on music or art as their main job, even when the other spouse really wants to be home with kids. I have known people who say that God has called them to sell a house and leave a town their kids love to move across the country, for no apparent reason.

Often when Christians really want something, they play the God card, because how can you argue with someone’s calling from God? This isn’t even always conscious–it’s just what we do. Now, this may not be the case in this reader’s situation, but we need to be very careful how we talk about these things so that we don’t back our spouses into a corner where they either (a) give into what we claim is God’s calling (even if they know it will disrupt the family and cause a lot of stress), or (b) they are the person who stood in the way of “God’s calling” for our lives. That’s pretty big emotional manipulation.

That’s why we must remember this:

When God calls you to do something that will be very disruptive to your family, He will also call and equip that family.

Consider that your confirmation. And really, your family is the most important thing. God does not want you pursuing evangelism if your marriage at home is falling apart. God wants that marriage to be the strong foundation that will fuel your evangelism.

So my overall answer? Talk to your husband about his dreams. Make some financial goals for your family, and some spiritual goals for your family. Pray about how you will work towards those goals. And then, I think, God will make the path much clearer because you’ll be talking about this and planning it together.

What do you think? Have you ever wanted to quit a job but your husband hasn’t agreed? Or in your marriage, has one spouse felt they heard something from God the other didn’t? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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18 Comments

  1. Angie

    Excellent answer! I’ve been there! Husband HAS to be on board. Especially if what you are doing is ministry-related. Also doing this is super stressful, esp if you don’t have the financial means. It requires sacrifices from everyone in the family too. So much to complicate things. God gives us gifts and talents, but he has already called you to marriage and wants you to honor THAT vocation before the other ones.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Yep! He really does. Thanks for commenting, Angie, and welcome to the blog!

      Reply
    • Suzy

      What if your husband makes you quit your job cause he doesn’t think it’s biblical for you to work?
      Plus, the job you had is where you met your husband? And you loved your job. And he comes home and talkes about the job you loved and can no longer work. And he lets your now grown son work the same job you wanted to keep but won’t let your daughters even think about it?

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Suzy, that is very concerning. You need to protect your daughters and encourage them to be able to earn a living and support themselves. Everybody needs to be able to do that. If they are old enough to have jobs, are they old enough to live on their own? Because it might be time for them to move out if your husband is being that controlling; getting them away from him may be in their best interest. And it is very controlling for a husband to say that his wife can’t work. Do you have a licensed marriage counselor that you can see?

        If you truly feel like you do not have a say, you may want to consider bringing in authorities who can help you reclaim your autonomy. If you are being abused, you do not need to put up with that and there are ways to escape.

        If you want to get a job, you can always re-apply or find another position. But financial control is highly correlated with spousal abuse and I’m very concerned reading your letter that this is what is happening. If you do not feel safe applying for a job, definitely get someone involved to help you get to a safe place.

        There is nothing wrong with staying at home. I was a stay-at-home-mom! But when a husband is forbidding his wife from working, that is a very large red flag.

        If your husband is getting these ideas from your church or your church is espousing this theology, you can leave and find a church that doesn’t support abusive power structures in marriage like this and who values women and their contributions. Remember: you are a person, too, with gifts, talents, and something unique to offer the world. It is wrong for someone to try to shut down what God has given you.

        Reply
  2. Johanna Galyen

    Sheila,

    I think you nailed it on the head when you strongly cautioned your reader to step back, talk to her husband, and really start putting a plan together. I have been in this very situation about wanting to quit my job (extremely stressful, but decent pay). I initially talked it over with my husband and even typed the resignation letter, but something was just “off”.

    There was no peace. If I did quit the job, that small financial stream would be very difficult to replace for 3-4 months, and it just didn’t seem right. So I went back and talked it over again, and my husband encouraged me that he too didn’t feel like it was time for me to quit. So I didn’t. But I did choose to decrease the pressure of the job where I could. Like not checking my work email on my days off, and turning off the opt-in texts from work. That way, I could get out of the drama where I could.

    When I got married, I and my husband became ONE FLESH. I don’t get to make crazy one-sided decisions anymore, and playing the God-called-me-to-do-this-card is wrong. God never will call a wife do something like this that He is not leading the husband along too…because if He was, then God would be going against what He said to do in the Bible (leave & cleave, become one flesh, and the wife should reverence her husband)

    The husband in this reader story is completely right! God is not speaking a special revelation to the wife. They definitely need to get together, talk about where God is leading both of them, how the finances will work out if she does quit, and how life will be with both of them at home. I would also encourage both of them to start doing a Bible study and praying together because this will knit their hearts close together.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Great advice, Johanna! I just think the scenario where you think you have a special revelation, and that special revelation just happens to line up 100% with what you really want to do, is really dangerous. In this case, I believe that God would give confirmation to the spouse. So grow with your spouse, keep praying, and just be prepared to listen to God! Sometimes God can use you right where you are, too.

      Reply
  3. Kathleen

    I’d like to clarify something. A little over 18 years ago, I made the choice that when our first child was born, I’d leave my professional career to be at home with him full-time. I quit that job, but I didn’t leave work. In fact, I work just as hard today as I did then. Biggest difference is that I don’t draw a paycheck for my work. If you decide to leave a paying job to be at home full time, please understand, you don’t QUIT WORK. You CHANGE JOBS. If you quit work to be “at home” full time, then keep in mind, you need to BE at home.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Excellent point! I made the same decision–to stay at home. But I made it WITH my husband, and I do think that matters. I wrote about it here. I also didn’t read anything in her letter about children, so I think this is just about wanting to be at home and “be an evangelist”, as she put it. That’s great that that is her focus–but if it’s something God is calling her to, He will give her opportunities where she is, too.

      Reply
      • Am

        Great read! However, what if you had a vision where the Lord revealed your time was coming to a close at the place where you worked but your husband is not in agreement because he is worried at failing the family financially, even after review of the budget? While also along in this particular season the wife is not only staying at home to care for the kids but is also trying to work from home full-time?

        Reply
  4. Ken Myers

    In addition to the above excellent guidance her church and local fellowship should be a support here. How can the community walk alongside both of them? What are they saying? In what ways can she serve there and be equipped. Nobody does the mission alone. Ken

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      So true!

      Reply
  5. Phil

    Hi Sheila, I really like this topic because we are talking about God’s will. This is something that used to drive me nuts and I am better it at now than I used to be but I still can screw it up – very easily. I used to say well – Where is the line in the sand? How do I know if it is God’s will or mine? First I was told by a friend “If you don’t know what God’s will is, you certainly know what God’s will ISN’T. That thought made the decisions a little bit easier. As I have progressed in my life it has become clearer with practice and checking my thoughts with others as I go. I was at a conference over the weekend and we discussed a litmus test for God’s Will:

    Self Will God’s Will

    Selfishness Giving
    Dishonesty Honesty
    Self Seeking/resentment Purity
    Fear Love

    This woman obviously has fear because her husband is not on board. Doesn’t pass the test. It is easy to do this with someone elses stuff. It is hard to do it with your own. We need others to help us. Otherwise we tend to screw it up…we run interference on ourselves…particularly major decisions. At least that’s my experience. Today I can see some things (God’s will) easily because I have practiced and walked through many things at this point. However, it is easy to get in a mess fast if I am not careful. I like it. Can’t wait to see your potential new book you mentioned on this topic.

    Reply
  6. Cassie from True Agape

    I totally agree. Before deciding on quitting the job, you and your husband needs to meet on your plans and agree. If you quit your job, a lot of things might be affected so it needs to be discussed and planned properly.

    Reply
  7. Ngina Otiende

    Love this, Sheila! It’s something my husband and I have worked through – and it’s not that he wasn’t supportive, he just didn’t understand it because I didn’t have all the details either (God rarely reveals everything in advance) So we took baby steps – like part time work. Lots of communication and patience with each other because both us were in new territory. But yes, I definitely believe that when God calls one spouse He calls the other too. Not the easiest thing to swallow for the spouse with a dream who wants to blast through 🙁 but in the end it comes down to trusting God’s plan for your (plural) life.

    Reply
  8. Michelle

    From a slightly different point of view, but a similar situation:

    My husband was still in school and I was the sole source of income. When his school situation unexpectedly changed, he felt like God was calling him to attend another school, which required me to quit my job. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but didn’t feel God calling me in any direction. I felt stuck! It really wasn’t until I started praying for God to increase my trust in Him that anything changed. I prayed to learn to trust God for months, and when it was down to the wire (we’re talking apartment leases coming due, school deposits on the last day, no job in the new city), I had an overwhelming sense of clarity and peace about what we had to do, and while literally dozens of things needed to happen in 2 weeks’ time for it to work, everything did, and it was better than we could have planned it. My point is, I think sometimes God keeps one partner “in the dark” longer than the other for very specific purposes. It’s not that I wasn’t seeking God’s guidance, I was. But by making me wait, He required that I trust Him (and my husband) at a greater depth than I did before, not only with the big question, but all the little details, too. It was stressful at the time, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I will be praying for you and your husband today, that you would both grow closer together and find God’s will for you all through this new chapter, whatever it holds.

    Reply
  9. Melissa

    My husband and I have a policy – if we do not completely agree on something, we don’t do it. Period. Yes, it has led to times of frustration for us. But overall, it has worked far better than either of us pulling rank and making the decision alone. We find that when we do it this way, when we agree to wait and submit the decision to God, things become much clearer. Maybe God hasn’t moved your husband’s heart in this direction because He has something in store neither of you know about yet. God’s ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

    Sheila had a lot of great talking points. Sit down with your husband and ask him what his concerns about you quitting your job are. And then LISTEN. Resist the urge to argue or explain. Just listen. If there are things that can be worked toward to enable you to quit your job, then work on a plan together to accomplish those things. God does want us to follow him, but He also wants us to be wise. Be patient.

    Reply
  10. nylse

    But just remember even with discussing, planning and talking things may work out differently than each of you anticipated. You just don’t know everything. Speaking from a bit of experience.

    Reply
  11. Kiya

    I’m in this situation now. I’m so confused and I know God is not the author of confusion. My husband asked me to leave my job and help him with his business. I don’t love my job and have had problems with administration bullying me in many instances since I started but I am too scared to walk away from the stability and pay. My husbands business doesn’t make enough money to support us. My job is increasingly getting unbearable with the constant increase of investigations being opened up for Unethical Hiring practices and discrimination. I’m just totally confused on what to do. In my heart I feel like they will not stop picking on me. I’ve never experienced this type of treatment in the past 8 years I’ve been working for this agency.

    Reply

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