Recently someone interviewed me for a class project. I thought I’d share the questions and the short answers with my friends who read this.
How do you balance your family life with the intense demands of pastoral ministry?
This is a real struggle for me. I am probably better at this with my children than with my wife because I tend to think that she should understand the pressures of ministry. This is not fair to her and is ultimately selfish on my part. Last year I really almost completely dropped the ball on this and 2010 has been much better because I am now under accountability for this particular thing. So, perhaps, my answer would be this:
a. We need good friends to keep us accountable about how we are doing with our children. They should feel free to probe into our lives by asking our wives if we are playing with our kids (in my case, the kids are small) and teaching them spiritual truths. Are we eating meals at home? etc. (I went a very long stretch where I hardly ate a meal at all with my family. I would stay in my office until my evening meeting and then rush away, missing devotions and family time altogether. I’m ashamed to say it, but it is interfering and loving accountability from good friends that helps me stay properly focused.
b. We need to be held accountable for our marriage. I’m grateful that I have some friends who watch my marriage closely and who have the freedom to ask how we are doing.
c. I think that there needs to be a daily routine in the pastor’s life (i.e. meals, etc.) that include intentional family togetherness and interaction. My wife and I have coffee every single morning, no matter what. It has always been that way. Even if I have a super early appointment she has valiantly gotten out of bed and dressed for the precious twenty to thirty minutes of fellowship. Every day. I am also religious about having at least one meal with my entire family and committed to praying with them on a daily basis.
Ultimately, it takes a constant vigilance over one’s priorities and the firm conviction that our primary responsibility is our wife and children.