Guys, Don’t Follow Whitefield’s Example

Arnold Dallimore, in his two volume biography of George Whitefield, notes that Whitefield “wanted a wife who would never place her own desires above the demands of his ministry” (vol. 2, 105).

After marrying the widow Elizabeth James, Whitefield certainly tested her devotion to his ministry.

There was no wedding trip but he remained at her home at Abergavenny preaching twice a day throughout the area for the better part of a week, and then, leaving Elizabeth and her daughter Nancy there, he set out on a preaching tour that took him to Bristol and Gloucester and then to London.

After a month of this labor he returned to Abergavenny for the Christmas day, but the next morning he was on his way to Bristol and London again.

When almost five months of marriage had passed he described his manner of life in the words, ‘I sleep and eat but little, and am constantly employed from morning till midnight.’ Several other statements of a similar nature occur in his letters of these days and it is evident that he felt he had succeeded in his determination not to let marriage create the slightest hindrance to his ministry (vol. 2, 110).

It sounds to me like Whitefield may have been guilty of putting his own desires above the interests of his wife (Phil. 2:4). That isn’t exactly the kind of Christ-like love a husband is called to display toward his wife (Eph. 5:22-33).