Many people enter into ministry or feel called to ministry because they want to make a difference in the lives of others. These people are helpers. If they didn’t work within a congregational context they would be a doctor or a nurse or work for a non-profit feeding hungry people. A lot of times people who are drawn to ministry have a hard time with boundaries because they feel God has called them to do significant things for the kingdom and don’t know how to say “no”. In addition to that, often ministers have issues with guilt and that multiplies the difficulty of telling people “no” because now, not only do you feel called to help, you feel punished by guilt when you don’t. So they work and work and work and too often the result is that you see ministers who saved the world but lost their own family in the process. They helped a lot of people and saved a lot of souls but their own family rejected God, Christ or the church because it was almost like a mistress that was whittling away at the minister’s time, attention and passion. No kid or spouse respects a mistress…she is an unwelcome presence in the home. Be careful to not make the church or ministry your mistress.
If you are a minister, make sure you make time for two things: 1) Self care: this is time developing your inner self, dealing with your issues (pride, guilt, messiah complex, boundaries, etc) and 2) Your family: don’t leave them in the dust while you pursue your passion and dreams. Make sure to walk along side them. Help grow their faith. Foster in the life of your spouse a deeper relationship with God. Enable your children to develop a deep passion for kingdom work. What good is it if a man saves the whole world but loses his family in the process? Be wise. We are called to sacrifice…sometimes we sacrifice things for the church and other times, if we are wise, we will know when to sacrifice church things for family. This takes wisdom and it won’t always come naturally to you but it has to be done if you are going to make it.
Last, we won’t get this right every time. There are going to be some people who do all of this right and still have children or a spouse who walks away from faith. Trust in the Lord. Maintain your integrity. Continue to love your family and be present in their lives. Mend what can be mended and wait upon the Lord and pray to the Lord for healing where necessary.