Pastor, have you ever heard any of the following after a long day of ministry: “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” or “Welcome home, honey, I missed you”? Chances are, if you’re married and have children, you’ve heard something like this. Or perhaps there’s something else that just blesses your socks off when you get home after a hard day’s work. These little blessings in our lives serve as a reminder – a strong reminder – that our priority in life and in ministry is our family.
As pastors, we know the intensity of our work. There’s always a message to prepare, someone to visit, a counseling session, a wedding, a funeral, a meeting… and the list goes on and on. We do the best we can to manage our pastoral responsibilities day in and day out, but what do we do with our most pressing ministry priority – our family? Does our family know they are our priority, or do they feel they are second or third on our list of daily “to dos”?
Take a moment right now and consider this question: Is my family my top priority in life and ministry, or is there something else that I’m giving more attention to? What did you come up with? Does your family come first in ministry, or do you find yourself giving your best to the church and your congregation? How do we, as pastors, keep the sacredness of family boundaries when everyone in the church demands our time? Let’s explore some ideas.
Recognize that your family IS your priority. As Paul describes the qualifications for an overseer (bishop) in 1 Timothy 3: 4-5, he writes: “…one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?).”
What does your family see in you? Do they see a servant of God who walks in grace and in truth, or just a very busy pastor who has little or no time for them? Do they experience your best, or are you only able to give them what’s left over after a hard day? Do they understand, without question, that they hold prime space in your heart, or do they consider themselves just part of your daily routine? Pastor, your family is your first and most urgent mission field. If they aren’t, take some time with the Lord and consider your priorities.
Be intentional about your time with your family. Considering that your family is your priority in life and in ministry, how are you intentionally structuring your time with them? When is your next vacation scheduled? How about your next date night with your spouse? What do you have planned this week for your kids that involve just you and them? Have you ever considered a game night, movie night, or some other themed night each week that you can do as a family? Regardless of what you plan, your family needs to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that apart from Jesus, they are the most important part of your life and ministry.
Talk with your family about your schedule. This plays into being intentional about time with your family. Consider having a weekly family meeting to go over all that’s on your plate for the week. How can you team up with your spouse to “divide and conquer”? Can you move some things around at the church to make sure you’re at Billy’s football game and Sally’s choir recital? What about intentional prayer time with your spouse and your kids? Is that just something you try to push through at the end of a very long day, or is there a way to make prayer an integral part of your day…with your family? Think outside of the box, and don’t be afraid to adjust your schedule as needed. Remember, there is ALWAYS ministry work to do, but there are only so many football games and choir recitals…
Finally, find someone that will hold you accountable and do the same for another pastor. There is power in having a brother in Christ come alongside you in ministry. Consider someone who is also in the ministry, who will have the courage to confront you if your priorities are off kilter. It’s so easy for us, as pastors, to hit the ground running each day and lose sight of what’s really important – don’t allow that to happen to you. If we can help, we have Pastoral Counselors standing by to chat with you over the phone. Give us a call at 844/4PASTOR (844/472-7867). We’d love to hear from you and would welcome the opportunity to walk with you in ministry.