Next to my relationship with Christ is my responsibility to my family. My God-ordained calling as a husband and father trumps my calling as a pastor. I have the greatest job in the world, but it is not comparable to the incredible opportunity I have as a father of 5 beautiful children and a husband of the coolest (and hottest) wife in the world! God has called me to pastor my home before I pastor families and students within our church.
Unfortunately, I have had to learn this (and am still learning) the hard way! Almost four years ago, one of my best friends confronted me out of love. I had become consumed with work and was running from one youth ministry event to another without spending time with my own family. I was so wrapped up in doing God’s work, that I missed being the husband and father my family needed. Following one of our biggest youth events of the year, I was faced with the reality that I had failed my wife and kids – not the most comforting emotion to work through!
God is constantly reminding me what it means to be the pastor of my own home! Let me share 4 keys to creating a healthy balance between family and ministry.
1. Be Present – It is easy to be physically present without being emotionally or mentally present. Our devices and gadgets make it simple for us to be somewhere without actually being present. Our kids need more than a physical presence. They desire us to be actively involved in every aspect of their lives, even if they say otherwise. They need our emotional, relational, and spiritual encouragement. At the same time, I understand that our jobs need us to be present. As a pastor, my presence is often required at odd hours of the day and week. In order to create a healthy balance, we must be intentional with our time, striving to be emotionally, mentally, relationally, and spiritually present at all times!
2. Develop a System of Accountability – We cannot get through life on our own strength. We must give people access to our lives, enabling them to challenge us when necessary. Whether it be in a one-on-one or small group setting, we all need a ‘check up from the neck up’ every once in a while. If the quality time with my family diminishes because I am consumed with my pastoral responsibilities, I need to know there is somebody who is willing to challenge me out of love. I understand we all go through extremely busy phases at work and at home, but neither should overshadow the other for a long period of time. Accountability is a huge key to developing a healthy balance between family and work.
3. Be Honest – Some of the hardest conversations I have ever had with my wife and children were in regards to my pride and selfishness getting in the way of the growth of our family. Our kids need to hear that we are not perfect and that we don’t always have all of the answers. They need to hear us admit we are wrong, apologetic, and seeking forgiveness. I often try to defend myself instead of allowing God to break my pride. In the long run, the health of our family will drastically increase when we admit we messed up and are honest about our failures. There is nothing natural about us apologizing to our kids. It takes major steps of humility. Too often we shove our mistakes under the rug, but we are so quick to call out the mistakes of others. We must dig deep into God’s grace and realize our kids to need to see us vulnerable and broken.
4. Live a Life Worth Imitating – In I Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, ‘Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.’ My desire is to be the Christ-like parent that I would want for my grandkids and the Godly husband I would want my boys to be for their future wife. I also pray those around me see Biblical character and integrity shine through my work ethic and leadership skills. When we prioritize our lives around a relationship with Christ, others will see the incredible impact we have on our families and workplaces. In a world full of poor role models, we must step up and live lives worth imitating for the cause of Christ!
We cannot take the responsibilities God has blessed us with lightly. We must understand the importance of creating a healthy balance between family and work. But we also need to know that, as much as we would love to be, we are not perfect. It is in these moments, we must fall flat on our faces and beg God to pick us up, humble us, and mold us how He desires us to be! It is only through His strength and love that we can experience a healthy balance between family and work!