Do you ever feel like ministry is having an adverse effect on your marriage? While it’s easy to blame, the truth is, ministry isn’t responsible for anyone having a bad marriage. God doesn’t call us to lead in His church to the detriment of our marriage. But I’ve watched many men sacrifice their marriage on the alter of ministry. And when we do it’s a clear indication that ministry is no longer a calling it’s an idol. Continue Reading…
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One of the most important questions a workaholic pastor can ask himself is: What am I sacrificing for the Gospel? As I’ve pointed out this past week God never asks us to sacrifice our health or our marriage. But when we confuse busyness for sacrifice we excuse our illegitimate behaviors as the pursuit of Kingdom impact. In reality these behaviors are evidence of pride and a deficient view of God. I’ll never forget driving down the road when my kids where younger and one of my sons said, “Dad I hate you being a pastor”. When I asked why he spoke of my ever constant distraction with serving “my church”. While I never would have said it out load, my behavior screamed that “God needs me in order to accomplish His work in my community.” That’s pride. That’s a low view of God. And that’s an attitude that leads pastors down a dangerous path. An over pre-occupation with ministry communicates to our children that our relationship with “our church” is a greater priority than our relationship with them.
#3 God doesn’t ask us to sacrifice our family. Many pastors, especially church planters, have children who are in the formative years of life. Right after Cindy and I announced that we were going to plant a church back in 1997 I heard a well-known pastor exclaim, “If you have young children DO NOT plant a church!” That terrified us, but it was too late, the journey had begun and the calling was too obvious. So right then and there we decided that our kids would be better because of ministry. To be honest it was difficult. The demands of planting were high. But we worked hard to have special time with our kids, show them the benefits of being in ministry and include them in the God-moments along our ministry journey. Ministry can be a great classroom where our children have a front row seat to witness the provision and power of God. But ministry can also be a pre-occupation that causes us to put parenting on autopilot.
Self-Evaluation: Am I sacrificing my family because of my pre-occupation with ministry?
I was talking with a friend the other day about pastors who have moral failures in their marriage when he said something incredibly insightful, “A man who has an affair with ministry makes himself more vulnerable to an affair with another woman.” The demands of ministry can be draining, but they can also be addicting. When we succumb to any addictive behavior we become enslaved by that behavior and begin to make illegitimate sacrifices to meet our perceived need. As I pointed out in yesterday’s post there are some things that God never asks us to sacrifice. Our health is one, but our marriage is another.
#2 God doesn’t ask us to sacrifice our marriage. Cindy shared a static with me the other day that claims 80% of pastors wives wish their husband had chosen a different occupation. God designed the husband wife relationship to complete one another (Genesis 2:18). Yet many couples find that the demands of ministry actually drive them further apart. God never asked us to sacrifice our marriage for the sake of the Gospel. in fact, in Ephesians 5 Paul tells us the demonstration of our love for our wives should reflect Christ love for the Church. We can easy begin to view our marriage partner solely as a ministry partner, and when we do we begin to use them instead of love and serve them. Our role as husband and leader of the home is to make sure our wives are walking in the fulfillment of God’s plan and purpose for their lives. But there is a lurking temptation to continually plug them into roles outside their gifting for the sake of “our church”, strap them to certain expectations for the image of “our church” or neglect them for the calling of “our church”
Self-Evaluation: Am I sacrificing my marriage because of the demands of ministry?