“If you have to explain to your wife and children why you were gone again, and the explanation is ‘because of ministry’ – something is wrong.”
The words above, paraphrased from something a friend and pastor said during a short message I was able to hear last month, rocked me. They didn’t rock me because I was necessarily falling into this problem, but because I knew I had that potential.
Ministry has the opportunity to consume. This can be a good thing, in a way, when we are consumed with an overwhelming desire to see souls saved and those under our leadership equipped and encouraged. However, it can be an incredibly dangerous thing when we are so consumed with ministry that it consumed our thoughts, time, resources, energy, and mental well-being.
For those of us who are married, and especially married with kiddos, being consumed with ministry becomes even more dangerous.
I’m not a pastor (yet?), so I can’t even begin to imagine the toll ministry takes on the marriage of a full-time pastor. However, even the limited amount of time I spend as a volunteer leader in the church has sometimes created strain on my own marriage. So how can this be defeated? A few ways come to mind for me:
- Always be consumed with God and His Word. This is one thing where consumption will never be harmful. I have a long way to go hear, especially in modeling it to my family.
- After God and His Word, be consumed with your spouse. Invest in your relationship. Ask if ministry is taking a toll on your marriage and be ready to hear, and accept, truth.
- Show your children that you are consumed with God and with your spouse. Then, love and invest in them.
- Show your congregation that you are first consumed with God, your spouse, and your children. Model a Biblical portrait of family ministry before church ministry. Your ministry to your family is one of the highest ministries you can have.
- Take a break. This is completely acceptable and even necessary.
I love ministry. But I love my marriage even more. God, give me the strength and wisdom to keep it that way.
Question: How have you worked with your spouse to prioritize how your relationship is balanced with your ministry?