We’ve all done it.
Cringed when someone asks our child what they learned at church today, and their slow response is, “I don’t know.”
If anyone should know that the lesson was about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, it should be your children! How did they miss the fiery furnace you constructed out of a refrigerator box and tissue paper that took up the whole living room for a week?
We can fall into the trap of thinking that because our kids are surrounded by our ministry, they are a part of our ministry.
It’s not that simple.
You take the time to eat lunch at school with students in your ministry. But you miss your child’s presentation in history class in the process.
You miss your child’s bedtime, again, because it is the only time this particular volunteer can meet with you. Bedtime is when you usually reach for the Bible and read a story or two about Jesus before praying together to celebrate today and prepare for tomorrow.
You can’t miss the look of disappointment on your spouse’s face when you mention the training day you have planned. Somehow it happened to fall on the same day as his annual company picnic.
We spend all day working to develop our teams and meet the needs of the precious families in our care, but are risking our own families in the process.
Ministry demands a lot, and it requires sacrifices. Simply being a follower of Jesus requires sacrifices.
How do you follow Jesus and His calling on your life without sacrificing your family?
Here are three things you can put into practice today that will protect you and your family from continuing down the path of eventual damage:
Being aware that you need to be intentional with your family will start you in the right direction, but we are all somewhat blind to our own weaknesses. Don’t rely on yourself to keep focus on your family. Allow your family to be involved, too. Hold a family meeting every week—at the same time, on the same day—and talk about what will be happening in each of your lives over the next seven days. This will help your spouse and children understand what the demands are on your time this week while also giving you the chance to find out the important things happening in their lives. Take time to discover how loved they are feeling—and plan ways to fill their love tanks. Come up with a code phrase your family can use when they start feeling like you’ve forgotten they exist. It may be easier to use a silly phrase than express their emotions in a healthy way when things aren’t going well.
2. Develop leaders
Far too often in ministry we feel like we have to do it all ourselves. God never intended for us to be alone—and that’s true in the context of ministry as well. Sometimes it is much easier to just do the myriad tasks ourselves instead of asking and training someone else to do them. Not only is that going to keep you from doing your best, but you are depriving others of the opportunity to grow and be used of God in your ministry. Stop doing the things that someone else can do. Determine what the things are that only you can do. Then start teaching others to do them, and give them the authority that goes with it. You will not only free up your own schedule, leaving more margin for your family, but you will be multiplying the impact on the kingdom of God.
3. Step away
Take time off. Far too many ministry leaders never take any time of rest. The original Sabbath was meant to be a day of rest. In our society, we don’t often rest, and if we are in ministry, we rest even less adequately. Use your vacation days—it shows that you value time with your family and time to recharge. Take a Sunday to just come and attend worship with your family.
The preschoolers and children and students you lead are important. Very important. After all, Jesus died on the cross for them and rose again the third day, conquering death, hell, and the grave.
He died for your family, too.
Your family matters to God.
Does your life show that they matter to you?