Over the years the question has been posed: “How do you maintain a balance between family and ministry?” It’s a great question… and one that every pastor, youth minister, or anyone who works full/part-time in ministry needs to wrestle with. But it has a huge flaw. The flaw is the fact that it is impossible to do. I’ve been at this now for 10 years and I have friends who have been pastors for WAY longer than that… and every time this pops up… we all say the same thing: It’s impossible to completely figure out. If there is someone out there who says that they have this one mastered… I’d love to meet them. Why is it impossible? It’s impossible because both areas expect way more than a balance will allow. Your family deserves more than just a balance. Your wife deserves more than just a balance. And your church deserves more than just a balance. It is, for sure, a tension area that seems to never go away. So, if there is no answer, what should we do? Here are a few things that I have learned over the years:
1. Learn how to say the word “NO.”
That is the first step. None of us wants to be a “NO-face”… but we cannot afford to be “Yes-Men” either. We need to learn to say no to things sometimes. it’s okay… go ahead and practice it: N-OOOOOOOO. Think about this for a second… Jesus had to say no to some people. I think that if it was okay for the Son of God to say no… then it is okay for us to say no as well.
2. Learn the “Busy” seasons of your ministry year.
This was a huge lesson I had to learn. There are always going to be ebs and flows to the ministry calendar year. When you know what season is busy, you can better prepare yourself and your family for it.
3. Be a better communicator with your family.
One thing that has helped me (though I am FAR from mastering it) is learning to communicate with my family what my schedule looks like for the week and how busy I will be with church stuff. This has helped with the tension.
4. Clarify your church’s & supervisor’s expectations of you & your time.
I have been guilty, on occasion, of assuming that I had to be somewhere when I did not… or that someone expected something of me when they clearly did not. Why? Because I did not clarify others expectations of me and my time. When I clarify expectations… I know exactly what I need to do and what I do not.
5. Choose more family, less church activity.
There will always be more ministry… There is only one of your family. There are other pastors to care for people… There is only one dad or mom to your kids.
6. Value the important over the immediate.
Sometimes we get going on things that we think have got to be immediately done… but in all reality, they aren’t that important. But what if we started valuing the important things over the immediate? What would that look like in our schedules? Families? Work?
There is probably way more that I missed… what would you add to this list?