Home > brokenness, family, ministry, relationship > Friday Remix: For Pastors and those who love them…

Friday Remix: For Pastors and those who love them…

On a forum I am active in, a fellow member, and pastor, wrote this:

A local minister on Sunday rose and told the congregation that he would be taking a sabbatical with his wife. They had had problems and the marriage was suffering greatly – they were crashing. The leaders allowed them to take some time away. If when they return things have not improved then he will resign his position. It is sad for this guy. He seemed like a nice guy. Always active in many things. But in the end the one thing that should have mattered suffered.

Too often the flock in our immediate reach go untended and then the wolf attacks them scattering them to far off places. It is even more a wake up for me. This guy had kids who were out of the house and on their own, so they did not have to take care of kids on top of everything else. My wife and I, on the other hand, do. Though we have managed to keep boundaries intact for now, the fact remains we must be careful.

I immediately went back in my mind to a national Pastor’s Conference I attended 20 years ago. A well-known and successful pastor of a large church was speaking to us. I don’t remember most of what he had to say that morning, but I will never forget his eyes welling up with tears when he said, “For almost 30 years now I have done ministry the way I was taught, the way it was modeled for me. I went to every meeting of every group and committee in the church… I made every hospital and nursing home visit… I attended every service and function even remotely related to the church… I knocked on thousands of doors… I answered every call and went everywhere and anywhere anytime anybody in my church needed anything. On top of all that, I prepared two sermons, a Sunday School lesson, and a Midweek Bible study every week. Today my church is large, and some would say, influential… But I have no relationship with my wife, and my daughters basically grew up without my involvement in their lives.” At this point the man broke down and began to weep openly. In a moment, he recovered enough to say, “Please don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in your work that you neglect your family… I would trade everything I have today to get back the time I missed with my family.” It was one of the most sobering experiences of my life.

God never called anyone into ministry to neglect their family. Our spouse and children are our first flock. They need us even more than the folks in the other flock.

And so, a few somewhat random thoughts related to all this:

  • Protect your time off. Sunday is NOT an off day, Pastor! Take, at minimum, one complete 24 hour day off every week, two days is better, one and a half days is a fair, doable compromise in most situations.
  • Take your vacation time. You’ve earned it and deserve it. Go away somewhere nice if you can afford it, or just to visit relatives or friends. If “everything will fall apart” if you go on vacation, your situation is probably already so bad that you NEED to get away!
  • Spend time with your family. Please don’t give me the tired, old “quality time vs. quantity time” stuff. None of us is good enough at quality to make up for a lack of quantity. Our families spell “love” T-I-M-E. If you have to choose between a meeting and a child’s activity – pick the child. Block the time out on your calendar or daily planner, and let nothing other than death derail it. A good rule of thumb is to spend as many nights at home with the family, or in family activities as you do in church related activities each week.
  • Date your spouse. Take them to lunch, or dinner and a movie. Take some sandwiches to the park, hold hands, walk and talk. Try not to talk about church business or problems with church people. Use the time to reconnect with your most important ministry partner.

I know most of the people who will read this already know this stuff. The question is, are you doing it? Pastors, we cannot succeed in the ministry if we fail with our family.

  1. April 11, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I found your post really interesting to read. It’s easy to forget that although pastors play such an important role in the church, as well in the community, you are all still human beings. I come from a slightly different perspective–I believe I was not raised in any church because my parent’s strong religious differences would have hurt their relationship. Sometimes I feel like I am still that little girl looking from outside and wondering what I missed.

    Tenderheartjb via Twitter

  2. fiercegrace
    April 11, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks for the comment, JoAnne, and thank God that you are “in the family” now!

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