Many times I have told my wife that I do not love the church more than her. I endeavored to keep good boundaries in my life. My desire has been to manage my time in such a way that I am a good husband and father, and at the same time, a faithful pastor.
I have wanted to shield my family from the pain of ministry. It has been my hope that somehow I could protect them from church conflict, criticism, and unrealistic expectations.
I wish I could say ministry hasn’t negatively affected my family, but it has. Some of our deepest wounds have come from people we loved and served.
There have been days that I was tempted to give it all up. I didn’t want the pressure anymore. Surely there is a less stressful way to make a living.
But that’s just it…I’m not in ministry to make a living. I’m here to fulfill a calling.
By His grace, God has chosen to use me in his ministry. It is a high calling, a wonderful privilege, and a great responsibility.
My calling is not to achieve an earthly definition of success. My calling is to be faithful to God and people.
Pastoral ministry is not for the faint-hearted. Every pastor I know has stories of pain, brokenness, and sorrow, yet we continue on because a day is coming when we will hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I’m reminded of Paul’s words to a younger minister. “…endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3)
We know that today some pastors are leaving the ministry. I have three friends who left pastoral ministry this year. While the reasons vary, there is no doubt that the impact of ministry on their families is a factor.
The 2016 Shaeffer Institute report gives us a clear picture. Here is a small snapshot…
• 54% of pastors still work over 55 hours a week
• 57% can't pay their bills
• 54% are overworked and 43% are overstressed
• 53% feel seminary had not properly prepared them for the task.
• 35% battle depression
• 26% are overly fatigued
• 28% are spiritually undernourished and 9% are burnt-out
• 23% are still distant to their families
• Yet, 90% feel honored to be a pastor!
Here are a few things to consider that can help your family stay healthy while facing the challenges of ministry.
1. Make sure your family knows by your words and actions that they are a priority in your life. Sometimes our actions communicate that our family is less important than ministry.
2. Reject the “savior-complex”. You can’t solve every problem or meet every need. Be aware of these unrealistic expectations:
3. Serve your family first. You are the spiritual leader in your home. It is critical that you pay attention to the needs of your family. This requires you to be present. Make time for what is important. Turn off your phone. Limit evening ministry. Take regular date nights.
4. Prepare your family that they will be exposed to a lot people’s opinions. We can’t shield them from it all, but recognize that only one opinion really matters…God’s opinion.
5. Understand that not every problem in the church is an emergency. It probably doesn’t have to be solved right this minute.
6. Help your church board develop proper expectations. You may have to communicate that they didn’t hire your family…they hired you. These can be challenging conversations, but they are important for the health of your family.
7. Remember God places a high value on how you take care of your family. “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5)
Question: In what ways has ministry been a challenge for your family? What steps are you taking to protect the health of your family? Please leave a comment below.
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Hi! I'm Loren Hicks. I am follower of Jesus, a husband, a father, a friend, and for the past