Sacrificing Family on the Altar of “God’s Work”

For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?
1 Timothy 3:5 (NLT)

Along the journey I have been involved in many different churches of different shapes, sizes and denominations. As a young man in a struggling marriage, I had the opportunity of being in full-time pastoral ministry for five years. I quickly learned that being the leader in a church can put undo pressure on a young husband and father to put up appearances as if you have everything together. It can also provide a young husband and father with a pious, self-righteous excuse to avoid the confusing and difficult complexities of budding relationships with wife and young children.

I have observed pastors and church leaders who, like many counterparts in the business world, are workaholics. Their car is in the parking lot early each morning and late into the evening. Because Sunday is the big day of the week for a pastor, they put in a full day on Saturday to prepare for Sunday services, then put in a full day on Sunday. That doesn’t stop them from putting in a full week. This devotion to “God’s work” is often cloaked in spiritual pride and piety while hiding incredible personal struggles. It looks good to the flock to have such a diligent leader who so tirelessly and publicly slaves away to serve God and the church. I even heard a pastor once piously boast from the pulpit about leaving his wife and small children to sleep in the church sanctuary.

The message I read in Paul’s description of a church leader is very clear. Whether a full-time pastor or a volunteer leader, the number one priority is spouse, children, and household. This is one of the many life lessons I learned the hard way. Sacrificing family on the altar of doing “God’s work” means my priorities are perilously out of whack.

6 thoughts on “Sacrificing Family on the Altar of “God’s Work””

  1. I agree wholeheartedly – I work full time as an Exec in the church and I have a philosophy that I had to learn myself which is if you will strategize around how to make family life better first then the work of the ministry will be simply an overflow of that. Love your post…

  2. Our pastor has said more than one time from the pulpit that if his work as a minister ever starts to interfere with his work as a father and husband, he will step down. He’s always made a point of reminding us that our families are our first ministries, before anything we do for the Church or our jobs or elsewhere. It’s easy to get caught up in all our duties. I have two jobs, school, leadership in church, and a mother and sister to help care for and it’s easy to forget that family should come first. But at the end of the day, what I do for them will have a more lasting impact than anything else.

    1. Sounds like your pastor is a good man!

      Keep pressing on with your positive attitude and your investment in your sister and mom. It may not be fully appreciated in the economy of this world, but that love investment is going to return huge spiritual dividends in this world and the next. Well done Samantha.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts, Tom! I couldn’t agree more. It’s tempting to ignore other duties in our efforts to do God’s work, but our family is such an imortant part of God’s work. I love the quote “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (including church).

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