Ministry, in many ways, is not so different from corporate America.
I discovered this truth while growing up in a pastor’s home. While my home was quite different than most, what I saw in other pastors’ homes broke my heart – and continues to break my heart to this day.
Absentee fathers in the home.
Mothers too busy for family.
Latch-key kids longing for attention.
And it is not frowned upon so much because it is all in the name of ministry and church.
While most would never say that ministers must sacrifice their families for ministry, their actions speak for themselves. And the result of such sacrifice is not positive, nor does it bear good fruit.
Oh yes, there are those whose ministries thrive as hundreds - perhaps thousands - come to Christ because of their sacrifice. And yet while achieving this spiritual success, they have lost the foremost ministry given to them - their family. No, perhaps their marriages didn't end in divorce and maybe their kids didn't end up in gangs or strung out in a crack house somewhere. But the picture I saw flashed one ministry kid after another who either lived a good life apart from a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ, or remained in church while harboring deep-seated resentment toward the ministry for robbing them of involved parents.
And here is where I must congratulate my parents for what they did right!
How to raise a functioning family in the ministry 1. Take regular days off that are truly off. Turn off your cell phone, do not check your email, and even stay off of social media if it tempts you to work.
2. Teach your children to take phone messages. I remember my dad teaching us to tell parishioners that he was not available, but would call back the next day. We would tell them that if it was urgent (but not life-threatening) to call the associate pastor. This helped to protect him from the temptation to work on his days off.
3. Schedule family outings. Another temptation is to make days off all about you. When my siblings and I were little, my dad used to spend every day off on the golf course. He soon realized that days off were not about him, they were about family, and to maintain a functioning family, you have to build family relationships. This can only be done when families are together!
4. Let the Lord build the house. I truly believe that many ministers have a deep root of fear that if they hold their church loosely they will fail in some way; either their church will accuse them of slacking, the zeal for God's house will wane, or they will be voted out for someone who is more dedicated. Yet we must ask ourselves, are we laboring in vain? If we are sacrificing our families for ministry, and we lose our children in the process, then yes - we are laboring in vain. This is a sacrifice that the Lord does not honor!
My siblings and I are living proof that you can raise healthy, functioning families in ministry with children who are not the quintessential "pastor's kids" or "missionary kids", who are out of control and obnoxious. We are living proof that you can raise children in ministry who go on to serve the Lord with passion and abandon! But to do so, you must first invest at home; for when you do, you will find that you will have far more in reserve to give to your ministry because you will no longer labor alone, but in the exponential power of a family laboring arm-in-arm, marching forward together in a mighty call to labor in fields of the Lord!
Rosilind is an American girl married to a Bosnian guy who lives in a small village just outside of Zagreb. They have two crazy boys 3 and under who are as opposite as boys can be. When Rosilind isn't writing, she is dreaming up recipes and searching for ways to organize her home better. You can find her at A Little R & R where she writes about missions, marriage and family, toddler activities, and her recipes. You will also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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