It is tempting in ministry to be busier than we ought. There are always more appointments to keep, meetings to attend, and programs to oversee. Our schedule can quickly become overloaded without us realizing it!
This is especially true in student ministry. All of our students’ extra activities are in the evening – concerts, games, ceremonies, etc. In an effort to be present for them, we can inadvertently become absent from our families.
In addition, the generation of pastors before us valued workaholism. Their role models for ministry were men who worked 70+ hours a week! They justified this by saying they were doing “the Lord’s work.”
A Harmful Trend
I often read books about ministry. Pastors commonly confess that they worked too much at first, and describe how it almost destroyed their family. Being a workaholic is self-destructive. This is true even for those of us in ministry.
A rallying cry for my generation has been, “I won’t sacrifice family on the altar of ministry.” In other words, ministry isn’t a higher priority than our families. We won’t neglect our spouse and children for the sake of the church.
You Only Get One Family
You will likely have multiple ministries throughout your career. That means there is room for error as a pastor. If you get fired for doing a poor job, you can always get hired at another church and try again.
But you will not have multiple families. That means there is no room for error as a spouse or as a parent. If you don’t put in enough time at home, you will wreck your one and only family. Your spouse may divorce you and your children will resent you (not to mention the Lord!).
Your Family Only Gets One You
Any church where you work will have multiple pastors throughout its lifetime. It was around before you came, and it will still be around after you leave. Chances are you stand in a long line of ministers at your church.
But your wife will not have multiple husbands. Your children will not have multiple fathers. Being there for your spouse and children is a job only you can do. Your church can easily replace you, but your family cannot.
Your Family Qualifies You for Ministry
Having a healthy family is a biblical requirement for church leaders. Paul says, “[An elder] must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect…A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well” (1 Timothy 3:4, 12).
He asks, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5). The answer is obvious – he can’t.
The health of your family either qualifies or disqualifies you. God didn’t call you into ministry so you could neglect those He has placed under your care. If you neglect your family in the name of ministry, you don’t deserve to have a family.
Are you truly doing “the Lord’s work” if you have to neglect your family in order to do it? Share your thoughts with a comment below!
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