10 Tips for Balancing Your Ministry and Family
Help for the tug-of-war.
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I slipped into his room late one evening as I arrived home from work only to find him wide awake, snuggled under the covers.
"Hey Dad, it's Wednesday," my 12-year-old said. "Tonight was our date night, Dad! You forgot!"
Somewhere between the deadlines and the donors and the to-do list, I'd forgotten the most important ministry God had entrusted to me, that of my family. It had been weeks since my wife and I had a date together, just the two of us, without our work worlds on the agenda, and I knew things needed to change and fast. Instead of focusing on work, I needed to focus on my family and let them know they were just as important as my ministry work.
We set out to meet our ministry goals and somehow in the midst of our work, we forget that waiting at home is that young boy waiting to play catch, that teen-age girl who needs to talk about boys or that spouse that needs to be treated with all the attention we used to give when we were dating. Why does it happen? How does it happen? How can you prevent it from happening to you? And why do we feel like we need to work so long and hard?
Recently, as I met for a cup of coffee with a ministry leader, in between the sips of Starbucks and the glint of the bright sunshine on that warm summer day, the truth about his family came out as it has many times before with other ministry leaders. The leader I was meeting with told me the real story of where things were with his ministry. You see, the ministry was doing wonderfully well; it was his family that was suffering, and so much so that he ended up stepping aside temporarily to focus on them until things turned around. I was glad he had decided to do this but surprised that I'd seen another scenario where ministry had edged out a leader's family.
Nobel Prize winning Harvard biologist George Wald has some thoughts: "What one really needs is not the Nobel laureates but love. How do you think one gets to be a Nobel laureate? Wanting love, that's how. Wanting it so bad one works all the time and ends up a Nobel laureate. It's a consolation prize. What matters is love."
Let me ask you this: If we were sitting at that Starbucks near your house and talking over our day, could I ask you a pretty personal question? What's the Nobel Prize you're striving for? Is it possible that the prize you're striving for has edged out your precious family or that spouse you were madly in love with during your courtship days? They need some of your best time, not just your leftover time.
Well, before the Starbucks gets cold and we've both gotta run, if it's time for a bit of a re-balancing of ministry and family, here are 10 ideas to jump start your thinking and help you get back on track. Got a pen? Jot 'em down on your napkin.
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