How to Balance Ministry and Family Life

The story is told of a steamboat race that took place in the early 1900's.  The steamboats where both traveling down the Mississippi River from Memphis to New Orleans.  They left at the same time and were traveling side-by-side.  Until some of the sailors from one vessel started making remarks across to the sailors of the other steamboat.  The remarks soon became heated and insults about the other crews boat great more and more hostile. 

         The derogatory remarks soon became a challenge and so, an all-out race started.  The competition became intense as the sailors from both boats wanted to prove they were superior. 

         The boats were neck-in-neck as the race continued to accelerate.  But then one boat began to fall behind.  The crew on that boat hadn't brought enough fuel for the unexpected race.  They had enough coal for a for a regular trip, but not enough for a race.

         Not wanted to lose the race (nor their ego), the boat that was behind took some of their cargo and tossed it into the boat furnace.  The sailors' watched as the supplies burned as well as the coal and got them back in the race.  Wanting so badly to win the race, the crew began throwing all the cargo into the boat furnace.  It worked.  They ended up not only catching the other boat, but passing it as well to win the race.

         Yes, they won the race, but it was at the expense of their cargo. They arrived in New Orleans empty-handed. 

         God has entrusted you and I with precious cargo. Our spouse. Our children. Our parents. Our grandchildren. Our close friends.  First and foremost, we are to lead them well and help them arrive at God's destination for their life.

         Far too many leaders get so consumed by the ministry, that they neglect their most important ministry, their family.  I have to raise my hand and make a confession in this area. When my two boys were younger, I worked too many hours. There were times when I wasn't there for dinner time.  There were days off that I didn't take the day off to spend time with them.  I was at work on Saturdays, when I should have been home with my wife.  It took years for me to adjust to a better schedule for my family's sake.  And for several years, it caused my oldest son to be bitter about it. Thankfully, by God's grace, he has forgiven me and we have a good relationship.  And both of my sons love God and are serving Him.  I wish I could reverse the clock and spend more time with my family.  But I can't.  


There is a verse in Mark 8:36 that says this...


 "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?"



How about this as well?



"And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own family?"



At times, it feels like you are juggling a bunch of plates, doesn't it? 



the family plate


the job plate


the hobby plate


the church plate


the friends' plate


the extended family plate


the chores plate


       There will be times when it's simply impossible to keep all those plates spinning.  Something will have to be dropped or missed.  Just remember this - if you have to drop a plate, don't ever let it be the family plate.  Drop the hobby plate...but don't drop your family plate.  Your set of golf clubs will be there after your child graduates.  If you have to make a choice: drop the overtime at work plate, but don't drop your family plate.  Your kids don't need more stuff...they need more of you. If you have to choose between an event at church or going to your child's soccer game, go to the soccer game.

         If you're just starting out in ministry or you have young children, please, please, please take this to heart.  Put your family first.  If you lose your family, then you've lost what matters most.

         Seize every hour, every day, every week you can grab to lead your family well.  I know the days are long (especially if you have a preschooler), but the years are short.  Your kids will be grown and gone before you can blink.  Make every day count.  Give your time and attention to what really matters...your family. 

You can get more practical ministry tips in my book "Lead Well in Children's Ministry."

Available in ebook and paperback at this link.