Family or Church?

Friday, August 07, 2009
Recently I have been surrounded with people that have two main draws in their life: family and ministry (IE: they work for a church). This has made me ask the question: Which comes first, family or God?

My first "Sunday School" answer is "Both. Putting your family first is a form of putting God first." But it isn't always that easy.

Say you are a senior pastor with a wife, two-point-four kids, and a dog. It takes a lot of energy to be a husband/father (or so I have been told), but it also takes a lot of energy to be a senior pastor. Let's say that you have been working all week on a project at the church, and it comes late in the week and you realize that you have not spent enough time preparing your sermon (and not by choice, you simply haven't had the time). Do you prepare the sermon, or do you go home to your family which you haven't seen all week?

Does the answer change with who you are? IE: If you are the choir director, is the answer different? The technical director. A choir member?

To ask the broad question: If you aren't employed by a church but you are just Joe the Plumber, do you put God or your family first?

Just a thought provoker this week.



-Stephen said...

1) on your priorities list, God is not the same as church. God is first on your list (personal time you spend with God). Family is next (see point #2). Work (@ church) is third.

2) 1 Timothy 3:

4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)

If you do not honor your family and you don't take care of your family, you shouldn't be a vocational minister. If you are not taking care of your family, you have your priorities backwards. You should temporarily stop your vocational ministry, fix your family relationships, and then continue with your vocational ministry.

Matt said...

I agree with Stephen, but part of the difficulty of Matt's question is that it's not always as simple as "fix your family" and then continue with ministry. Just because your family is "fixed" doesn't mean that it's going to stay that way.

Matt's talking about a week-by-week and day-by-day decision. I.e. Do I work on the sermon or take my son fishing? No, working on your sermon while your son fishes next to you doesn't count for either of those.

I agree with Stephen that it's important to distinguish between God and Church.

I also think it's important not to try and compartmentalize these things too much. We like to cal it "vocational ministry" but it's mostly just doing what God told you (individually) to do. We like to call it "mission work," but it's really just doing what God told all of us to do wherever He has us living. We like to pretend that family is one of those things that doesn't get a title like that, but it's really called living Christ to you wife and children on a daily basis.

My point is that it's no more difficult to balance "vocational ministry" with family as it is to talk your timid wife into coming across the street to "cold call" your neighbors and get to know them. It's no more difficult to balance "vocational ministry" and family than it is to balance daily sanctification and leisure. It's just easier to say "I don't really care about you all that much" to your neighbors across the street when they can't hear you, than it is to say that to your congregation by laying an egg on Sunday morning.

It is, however, no more noble to preach a good sermon because you don't want to lay an egg, than it is to pretend to "spend time with your family" as an excuse for not going across the street.

"And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

"You tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others." Matt 23:23