How to Make Sure Prioritizing Family Over Ministry Isn’t Just Lip Service
If you could only choose one and I asked you to choose between your family and your ministry, I’m sure you would choose your family.
Of course family and ministry isn’t an either/or proposition, but those roles sometimes compete.
And when that happens, it can be easier to say no to our family because (usually) they’re more understanding than the folks in our church.
Over time as that cycle continues, without realizing it, we can find ourselves in a place where in reality we’re prioritizing ministry over our family while saying (and probably even thinking) the opposite.
This isn’t to say we go completely to the other side of the spectrum and always say no to ministry; instead we set up rules so our families know they’re more important than ministry while still being effective to what God has called us to do as ministers.
Here’s some rules I’ve put in place to help me manage that tension.
If you decide to create rules of your own, be careful to make them your own.
The point isn’t to use my rules, the point is to make rules in your life, so your family grows up loving the church, rather than seeing the church as the thing that gave them an absent parent.
Rule #1: I will only be gone 2 evenings/week for ministry.
I’m out 1 evening every week for youth group, so that leaves 1 extra evening for a special event, dinner with someone in my church, a meeting, etc.
If there’s 3 things in a given week, I reschedule or choose to miss something (on rare occasions I’ll go to all 3, making sure my family knows it’s a rare exception).
Rule #2 We’ll go on a family vacation every year for at least 1 week.
This doesn’t have to be expensive.
You can spend a week at your family’s (you get free childcare that way too).
We live in a very transient church where families are always coming and going, so the last 2 years, we’ve stayed with families from our church who moved to different states.
Even if you have to stay home, make sure that for at least one week you’re with my family without doing any ministry.
Rule #3 When I get home, I’ll spend the first hour with my kids and give my wife a break.
This is probably the toughest one for me because most days when I get home I just want to veg out.
But I’ve made it a rule because it shows my kids I want to spend time with them and my wife that I care about her sanity.
Rule #4 When my kids have something going on, I do whatever I can to attend/be part of it.
I want my kids to look back and remember me being there whenever something important to them was happening.
I can’t always do this, but if I can find a way, I will.
I always tell people that when I die, there will be room for only one phrase on my tombstone, and I want it to read something along the lines of, “He was a loving father who was always there and taught his family to love God.”
Do you have any rules written or unwritten that ensure you’re prioritizing family over ministry? Leave a comment with them!
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