I remember one evening many years ago, in a season when all my kids were little, they all had a massive meltdown at the dinner table. No joke, all four were melting down. Steve and I looked at each other across the table and knew something had to change. Steve had been out at church meetings four nights that week and as a family, we were all paying the price! He quietly got up from the chaotic dinner table, called an elder, and canceled his meeting for that evening. His choice spoke volumes to our kids.
After all the kids were tucked in bed, Steve and I had a conversation about reordering our lives around a different set of priorities. We agreed on God first, then family, then ministry. As a result of that conversation, we set some new boundaries around our family life and prayed that God would give us wisdom moving forward. We knew it would be a battle because ministry always seems to call for more. However, many years later, folks in the church told us the thing they appreciated most about our ministry was our family life.
The truth is, if chaos abounds at home, it’s likely that your ministry will also be in a state of chaos. The answer is to learn to lead out of the strength of your family life.
How? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Tune into the Wisdom Found in Proverbs.
The wise writer of Proverbs wrote, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (Proverbs 24:3-4). Make it a priority to ask God for wisdom for your family life, not just for church life. Seek to understand what the members of your family are feeling and become a student of each so that you can shepherd them wisely.
Use Your Car Time as Transition Time.
Often the most challenging thing for pastors is to leave the church problems at the church. Practice using your travel time as transition time. I always practice this principle when I fly out of state to speak. As I fly into the speaking engagement, I give the Lord any worries I have about home and ask Him to fill me with the ability to be fully present where I’m speaking. When I fly home, I give the Lord all my thoughts about the speaking engagement and ask Him to help me to be fully present when I get home. You can use this same principle in the car driving to and from work. When you lock up your office and get in your car, give the Lord all the worries from the church. Ask Him to help you to transition so that when you get home you can be fully present.
Respect Your Limits.
Many Pastors and ministry professionals wrestle with the concept of boundaries. However, boundaries are a Biblical concept. Jesus exercised great boundaries. If you doubt me, read Mark 1:35-39. After a full day of ministry, Jesus left very early in the morning for time alone with the Father. When the disciples went to find Him, they rebuked Him, exclaiming, “Everyone is looking for you!” It’s almost as if they were saying, “How dare you take time alone. Everyone needs you.” Jesus calmly replied, “Let us go somewhere else.” I love this story because it reminds me that Jesus didn’t heal everyone. He wasn’t available 24/7. While fully God, He was fully human and as such was bound to a 24-hour-day. He needed to sleep, eat, and respect the limits of His human body.
I’d like to leave you with a challenge. Consider: What is the condition of your home life? Are you leading out of the strength of a steady and stable home? If not, what needs to change?
Steve and Becky Harling are veteran church ministry leaders, authors and speakers. Certified by the John Maxwell Team the Harling’s have served as Pastors both nationally and internationally. www.harlingleadership.com