Two Posts You Should Read by Dan Bouchelle & Ben Witherington

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The first is by Dan Bouchelle about ministers and how they “Willingly Walk into a World of Pain“. The stories he tells are honest, touching and will give you a whole new appreciation for your minister.

The second is by Ben Witheringon, “Family First – Not a Biblical Viewpoint“. I wrestled with this post. I have so much respect for Dr. Witherington and I can’t help but agree with his general point that there is a higher calling than our families (namely, loving God with all of our hearts). At the same time, this post swung the pendulum a little too far for me. I am curious what your thoughts are on the matter, especially at a time where family is getting so much focus in our churches.

6 Responses

  1. Hey Matt, I read Ben’s post and some of the responses. Maybe I did not read carefully, but it seemed to me that he made the common mistake of thinking strictly in either/or terms. That is, we are either called to love God or serve the family. I think a legitimate response would be our primary calling is to “Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength” *through* our commitment to our family. I have seen so many minister’s destroy their families, and their children’s view of the church, because his “mistress” is the congregation, er, God. “Oh, I am serving God” they would say – NOT. How can I “love God with all my heart….” if I am not first and foremost being the husband/father I am called to be?

    God created the family long before he created any other social structure, the assembly of the faithful included. Adam’s love for God should have been to “husband” his wife (that is where the word comes from, btw) but he did not.

    I also disagree with his suggestion that after loving God the next command is to make disciples, but that is fodder for another time.


  2. As Christians our highest good and highest calling is to follow the example of Christ and the teaching of Christ, and neither of these things encourage us to put up banners that say ‘Family first!’. Rather the body of Christ needs desperately to get on with being a family towards all of its members and learning what in fact that means and entailed.

    While this is very true, it is also true that Paul wrote Timothy that in some things physical family is to take responsibility (and hence, priority) over the spiritual family, “…that the church not be charged.”

    I cannot neglect my physical family to the extent that they become charges of the church. While Paul spoke primarily of financial & physical support, wouldn’t the same principle apply to the emotional support of a family?

  3. I would like to add to the Dan B. article the loneliness, stress and high standard that wives and children bear as they walk alongside their minister husband or father during and after the ministry years.
    When someone in the famiy makes a mistake (WHEN, not if) it is often devstating and unfairly overemphasized not only by peers but in whispers and wonders by many more than SHOULD wonder and whisper…and how can healing begin when it is hard to seek Godly wisdom and sisterly love and complassion when who would a wife trust as a companion to pray with (sometimes sisters just need sisters to help).
    I sure appreciate the servant-ness of all involved. Sacrifice beyond what is seen for sure!
    Thanks for the reminder to lift up in prayer the unseen burdens – our God holds a big end of the yoke, but may we also take on each others burdens faithfully.

  4. I so appreciate the article by Dan Bouchelle, and the comments by Barb. It is obvious to me why this was written by a former preacher. You are just not free to share these burdens while serving in this capacity. At least not with the congregation you are laboring with. Shortly after Mary Winkler killed her preacher husband, Matthew, I was asked to write an article on The Struggles of the Preachers Wife. I considered it, thought it might be beneficial to some, consulted with my closest friends, all preacher’s wives in other states, and ultimately could not write it! How could I share my struggles without sounding like I was complaining or whining? I was afraid that reading a tell all article about the life and work of a preaching family might be akin to staring at a traffic accident. Many might look and even stare but later regret that they did! It is just much easier to think the preacher’s wife and family have it all figured out like some sort of Super Christians and even easier to tear them down when its realized that they are not! Let us pray for these families and be willing to bear their burdens as Christians ought!

  5. Having read Ben’s article I have to agree in kind. We often lift up marriage and child-rearing to a point of idolatry. The most important thing I can do is to love my wife as my sister in Christ – loving her like Christ loved the church. And the most important thing I can do is to reflect the love/discipline/wisdom of God to my children that they might grow up to be disciples of Jesus.

    I don’t agree with Ben’s position on women. That is a cultural emphasis that is soon followed by other cultural lies. To justify he mentioned several women who were important to the gospel and loved by God but hardly leaders in the sense of being responsible for the hearts/souls of people.”Deborah or a Huldah or an Anna or a Priscilla or a Tabitha, or a Junia or a Mary Magdalene or lots of others” Hardly compares with Adam, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, David, Jesus, 12 apostles, etc. etc. etc. And when Paul talks about headship, the only way you can make that work to remove men’s from the role is to change the meaning of the word.(which is done commonly now.)

    As a minister, Dan’s article was poignant. I have been called to step into many situations that were far beyond my ability to cope. I have learned to cry with people, perhaps my greatest gift. But I also feel that ministers/leaders isolate themselves and as a community we don’t talk about these things and work through them in smaller, health giving groups. The more we as a church deal with all of our brokeness, the others will be invited to do the same, and the gospel takes on a more powerful more wonderful place in our lives!

  6. Just catching up…

    Totally agree with Benny Three Sticks. The focus was never intended to be on the family. And I say that as one who loves Dr. Dobson’s work with families & children. This doesn’t have to be an either/or, black/white choice. I think what Dr. Witherington is saying needs to be heard in our Churches.

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