Preventing your family from being a casualty of your calling.
Sometimes Paul’s advice to Timothy is like a splinter under the skin: “If a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?” All of us have wrestled alligators of guilt over ministry and family issues. Striking a balance may be harder than nailing pudding to a fencepost.
Sometimes constituents will aim for us and hit our family with fiery darts of criticism over the decisions or actions we made. We cannot prevent that, but we can take some precautionary steps to lessen the impact.
First, affirm each family member’s worth. Each should know they are your “favorite.” Maybe the Prodigal Son’s brother needed some preventative and ongoing attention more than his father’s estate summary. Never assume your family knows your feelings. Cultivate and acknowledge their individual worth, skill, and performance.
Second, do not expect perfection. Homesteads are not model homes—with fancy lights, fake fruit, and spotless furniture. They are oft-cluttered laboratories where God’s truths are tested in daily living. You will have to do some experimenting, some mixing of ingredients to fit the uniqueness of your “lab assistants.” The biblical hierarchy: God first, family second, and constituents third.
Third, put family events on your calendar—and try to leave them there. Of course, there are times when you will have to recalculate your route, but whenever you can, set your destination for the stands or auditorium where you can cheer for your family. A “thumbs-up” from you will be an energy burst they will always remember.
Fourth, give them a significant part of your time offline. Choose a “we” activity more often than a “me” activity. Family members may forget every lesson, speech, or sermon you deliver, but they will never forget those “together times,” those perfect times to affirm your love and respect.
Five, teach them management skills. They will need to know by lesson and example how to manage their time and resources, and how to manage people. People skills are getting to be as rare as a pay phone. One trip to a fast food restaurant counter proves it.
Six, give them a hiatus. Your family needs time away from ministry pressures. They need a time and place where they can kick off their shoes and relax. Fifty years from now, no one but your family will care that you skipped your vacation time.
Seven, teach your family to love Jesus and his Church. You will not have to tell your family that there are staff or management problems—they’ll know. But you will have the chance of a lifetime to teach them how to love unconditionally and forgive extravagantly. Do not miss the opportunity to remind them that Jesus did not come to die for perfect folks.
Put these words in your folder of choice, but never forget that you are loved and appreciated.