Here are a few more excerpts from the Church Planter material I have been working on…
“If I had a dollar for ever time someone has advised me not to “sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry” I could travel to Home Depot and buy all the materials necessary to build my own brazen altar complete with a glistening bronze overlay and duel ash pans (See 1 Sam. 1). Perhaps I am given this advice so regularly because my family is often seen involved with me in the work of the ministry. I can imagine what must be going through the minds of my self-appointed advisers when they see my four year old son pushing cases full of equipment in an out of the school where we meet each weekend or when my six year old daughter is seen walking door to door with me as I visit homes in my community.
If you are a pastor who is also a husband and a father you will feel a constant tension between the work of the ministry and your duties as the leader of your home. Let me offer this simple suggestion; instead trying to avoid sacrificing your family on the alter of ministry, Sacrifice the dream of a quintessential American family on the altar of ministry. As a pastor you should do all that you can to involve your wife and children in the joys and pains of serving the body of Christ.
Isn’t it ironic that we celebrate Hanna and Abraham for their willingness to lay their offspring down on the alter yet advise our ministers to do the opposite? Think about it… Hanna carried Samuel to the temple with the rest of her offerings as soon as he was weaned, “she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh.” We exalt her faith and figuratively join her in our commitment to give our children to the Lord. Yet in our own homes we strive for a balance between ministry and family. Then there is Abraham; what a great example right? This guy actually carried his boy up to a mountain to kill him with a knife because God told him to (Gen 22). How many times have we celebrated Abraham’s faith from the pulpit but neglected his example in our living room.
Just as a real shepherd might take his child out to tend sheep with him, when possible, I take mine to tend sheep with me. I want them to learn what I do and I want to spend time with them, because of this, it only makes since to bring them with me. Sure, it’s not very professional, but then again, professionalism is not the goal of a pastor or a dad. There have been times when my children have done more to minister in hospital rooms and on the front porches than I was able to. This doesn’t mean that everything we do as a family is centered on the work of ministry but it does mean that much of what we do is aimed at serving our local congregation. It also means that there are fewer hours in the day for the activities that do not benefit the church. Please, don’t feel sorry for my children or my wife. They are not slaves begging for more time on the baseball field or at the local park. Trust me, my children are well acquainted with the inside of a Chuck-E-Cheese. But they are also acquainted with the fact that even in Chuck-E-Cheese we are ministers of the gospel.”