Ministry life is a demanding life. Everybody in ministry has a job description that’s bigger than they could ever do; and it’s tempting for there to be an unhealthy competition between marriage, family and ministry. Now, I want to say something. Maybe it surprised you if you study the New Testament, there is no lengthy or detailed conversation about the tension between marriage and ministry. None.
And that is because God would never call us to do one thing that would make it impossible for us to do another thing He’s called us to. He will never put us in that catch-22. He’ll never call us to one set of commands that means we have to break another set of commands. I am persuaded that the conversation about the tension of ministry is needed because of the wrong choices we make in ministry.
Listen. If ministry becomes your identity, your family will pay the price for that. If ministry success becomes a thing that you live for, your family will pay the price for that. Isn’t it interesting that one of the cardinal qualifications for someone in pastoral ministry in Timothy is one who manages his house well? If I am not committed to pastor the people that are closest to me, with all the time and energy and commitment, that means, how am I qualified to be a minister in Christ’s church? I’m not.
And so, you have to make critical choices. I can’t make all of those for you because there are all kinds of details that are attached to making those choices. I could tell you what I did. As a father of four young children in pastoral ministry, other than a bi-weekly meeting, I accepted no appointments in the evening. That’s when my children are home. That’s when we would have our family time. I could not be an absentee father. And I know I told people, “I’ll meet you late at night after my children are gone to bed. I’ll meet you early in the morning, ridiculously early. I’ll meet you at lunch. There’s a way we can make it work. But I’m not gonna be night after night after night unavailable to my own children.”
People would complain and I would say, “Look, if you had an impacted wisdom tooth and your dentist said, ‘I can only meet you at 6:00 in the morning,’ you would gladly go at 6:00 in the morning.” Don’t allow yourself to let ministry demands call you away from the pastoral responsibility you have to your own children. It’s possible for these two aspects of God’s calling on your life to exist well together. Commit to making that happen.