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.