One Sunday morning, our four-year-old daughter escaped from her class at church. I was in the middle of a passionate teaching point when I saw her waving at me from the back of our auditorium. I waved back and gave her a wink. That did not suffice, so she took it as permission to ask me a question right in the middle of the service.
As she walked down the center aisle, I got nervous. She walked right up onto the stage and asked me, “Have you seen Mom?”
Not only were we going to have a conversation, but the congregation would hear every word. Corynn spoke to me as though no one was there.
“Corynn, we are in the middle of the sermon, and I need you to go back to your class,” I said.
“Daddy, Mom said Emma could come over after church, and I want to see if Lucy can, too,” she requested.
With every eye in the room watching me, I got down on one knee and worked through our after-church social arrangements, then kissed Corynn goodbye.
At that moment, an impromptu sermon trumped my prepared sermon. Our worship pastor said it was the best sermon he had ever seen. Years later, people still talk about that moment and the impact it made on them.
Interruptions such as this are defining moments for pastors. They communicate love and concern, but also demonstrate how to care for and prioritize the ones you love. Interrupting a football game on TV, stopping the mower for a chat, closing a book while studying, and even pausing in the middle of a sermon are ways we show our children that they matter to us.
Does your congregation know that you prioritize your family? Will you say “No” to a church member when you know your kids need to spend quality time with you? Do you preach this priority in your sermons? Do you model healthy family to your congregation?
We do not want to succeed in the pulpit and fail at home. I love my family and ministry. Finding balance requires prioritizing my family while fulfilling my calling.
As pastors, we cast a vision for the many purposes of the church. We teach how to give, serve, and evangelize. Prioritizing family needs to be a part of our regular vision casting. Our congregations need to see and hear, “Family is important to me.” What can we say and do this Sunday that casts that vision?