Balancing Home & Ministry
The Christian who tries to balance their home life and the ministry can easily encounter tension, confusion, frustration and even spiritual defeat.
Is this God’s intent? Or is his will that both areas thrive, each fueling the other, and are both rewarding and fulfilling?
We set out to meet our ministry goals and somehow in the midst of our work, we forget that waiting at home is that young boy waiting to play catch, that teen-age girl who needs to talk about boys or that spouse that needs to be treated with all the attention we used to give when we were dating.
They need some of your best time, not just your leftover time!
Our home ministry is the God-given role we have as husbands or wives to love our spouses as God loves us. If we are parents, it includes our role to love and raise our children according to His truth. The Bible commands us to invest in our spouse and children by nurturing them, helping them develop intellectually, physically, relationally, and spiritually (Psalms 78:2-7). This requires maintaining an intimate relationship with each family member through consistent time with one another.
The `Ah-Ha’ moment came for me about 4 years ago while having dinner with my family. We were discussing something that the family needed to do as a whole. My youngest daughter (11, at the time) made the comment that “we didn’t need to include Daddy because he’s always working and never does anything with us”.
Some tips to help bring the scales back in balance
If it’s time for a bit of a re-balancing of ministry and family, here are some ideas to jump- start your thinking and help you get back on track.
1. Get your family together and create a family mission statement. It’s just as important to be intentional as a family as it is to do so where you work. Your family should be on the same page as to why you are here on earth and what principles should govern your time together.
“Our family is going through life’s journey together, growing roots in Christ and wings for our mission, becoming equipped to make a difference in our world by learning to live like Jesus, for Jesus and in Jesus.”
2. Carve out time for your family each week … in advance. Put it on your calendar. Stop saying you have to get “one more thing done” before you leave for home. Plan your week with specific ending times and stick to them.
3. Make every attempt to eat dinner with family at least 3 nights a week everyone at the same time. This is your time to discuss what’s going on with each other, how their day went, what’s going on in school.
4. Evaluate where you spend your time. Eliminate things from your schedule that aren’t important. March to the mission that Jesus called you to, not the mission that others want you to do for them. Be ruthless here!
5. Stephen Covey’s Urgent and Important Matrix, from First Things First. Covey’s point is that we often get pulled into work that is “Urgent” – that is, it needs to be done now, right now and other items we are working on should be dropped. Often, this is work that we are pulled into by others, letting others set our priorities for us. What gets dropped or never even considered is the work that is “Important” – planning, team building, networking. In fact, the Urgent stuff almost always crowds out the important stuff. Becoming more productive and innovative is not necessarily about doing MORE things in the same time; it’s about creating more value with the time you have. Accomplishing eight urgent tasks but ignoring the important ones does not make you more productive. Unfortunately, we’ve all gotten caught up in the Busy Syndrome: if I’m not busy, there must be something wrong. Take some time to refocus on what you do each day. Take some time to thoughtfully consider how you work and how you allow others to influence what is important for you. Choose where you will spend your time, and spend it on the items and projects that are Important AND Urgent.
6. Make a list of your ‘stated priorities’. Then, chart your weekly schedule. See if your priorities and where you actually spend your time match. Balance always requires a fierce and ruthless examination of priorities. Our true priorities are not mere lists of activities completed or goals set, but candid reflections of our heart’s desires. What we deem important receives the most time, energy, attention and resources.
7. Pay attention to your hobbies and personal comfort and make sure they are not taking precedence over family and church.
8. Find a seasoned person in the ministry and talk to them about your situation. Ask for their opinion on your time management. By the way, don’t get defensive when getting input on your marriage or parenting skills.
9. If your work situation requires constant excessive hours to get the job done, it’s time to evaluate other ways to accomplish the task. You can’t accomplish the mission of the organization single-handedly, so stop trying! Pray for the Lord to send workers into your harvest field and then sit back and watch Him go to work.
Pray for supernatural results from the time you do put into your day, then go home and be a minister to the other mission field God gave you your family.
10. Incorporate volunteers to perform the tasks that you don’t absolutely have to perform yourself. It gives them an opportunity to develop their abilities.
a. Book: “Putting Ministry in Motion” by Teena M. Stewart. How to develop an effective Volunteer Ministry. http://www.Ministryinmotion.net/gift_spiritual.html
9. Where possible, get your spouse and children if applicable) to serve with you. There are many ways of getting your family involved in your ministry. Be creative if you have to. Help them to want to support and not feel like they have to. (Kids preview CD’s for me. Wife directs the choir, creates the monthly Praise Team Schedule, helps coordinate activities.)
10. Be accountable to others. By being open and accountable, we can let others help us recognize when we’ve gotten out of balance. People who know us well and observe our lives on a regular basis can usually tell us when we’re getting out of balance better than we can for ourselves. This will often mean a spouse or other family members, or perhaps a close friend.
11. Give up…perfectionism. The habit of perfectionism is time consuming and can be counterproductive. Mel Olberg quotes G; K. Chesterton: “Any job worth doing is worth doing poorly.” What that means to him, he said, is that “I’ll do the best I can in the time allotted.”
12. If you have others that work for you, have them actually write into their job descriptions the need to be committed to their family and specifically how they will do this.
13. Develop an activity with your family as a whole and or with individual family members; maybe it’s hiking, a date at Denny’s for breakfast on Saturday or coffee with your spouse where you pray together for your day.
14. Create a spiritual life development plan for each of your kids outlining their strengths, their areas for improvement and your plans to shape their character as they grow up under your care. Our children are arrows that are being sent to a world that we will never fully see. It’s our job to shape them into arrows that will fly straight and travel the distance to the target that God has intended for them.
15. Schedule a ‘date night’ of at least an hour once a week with your spouse where you just focus on them. It doesn’t have to be expensive; time alone is the critical ingredient here.
16. When you’re traveling, send e-mail or a postcard back to your family. Call them ‘on the phone and pray with them in addition to chatting.
17. If you have children, encourage them to ‘teach’ you what they learned in the children’s church: This will get them used to communicating God’s truth to others and will express your interest in what they are doing and learning.
18. Instruct your family on the importance of your ministry as it relates to God’s purpose: Your ministry will only be a distraction to them until you explain its importance to God.
19. Pray together regularly as a family. Make certain to mention people that you are reaching out to and serving. Ask the family to pray for you and your ministry. Share your struggles and fears with them so they can help you pray about them.
20. Study the Bible together regularly. If you have small children, there are several children’s Bibles that can facilitate this.
21. At the end of a day, ask your kids or spouse these three questions … “What happened today that you’re proud of?” “What happened today that you wish you could do over?” “Where did you see God in your day today?”
If your children were asked to call out words today that defined your parenting, or if your spouse was reviewing your life at your funeral service, what words would- they use? If you’re not happy with what words are echoing around in your head, it’s time to make some changes in how you’re leading your family.
By the way, if you’re the man in your family, make sure you’re not abdicating all the work of leading your family to your wife; the role of leadership is not designed to be shouldered solely by her. Get involved!
The above article, ‘Balancing Home & Ministry,’ is written by Troy Vuyovich. The article was excerpted from IBC Music Fest 2008
This material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, ‘Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.’