The fourth episode of Oxygen’s Preachers of LA focused primarily on family issues. From Bishop Ron Gibson’s family intervention for his drug-addicted sister to Dietrick Haddon’s backyard wedding (replete with yarn wedding bands), this episode highlighted some of the struggles that ministry (and by extension, all families) families face.
Family is the first ministry. Thousands of years before Jesus established the Church on Peter’s confession, marriage and family were ordained by God in the Garden. Somehow, however, many people (including pastors) have sought success and fame at the expense of their families. People often say that you have to “pay the price” for fame, but it should NEVER cost you your family! Family was never designed to be sacrificed on the altar of success, and ministry was never designed to destroy families.
Whether you are a pastor or a professional, make sure that family remains your priority. After all, what does it profit you to gain the world and lose your household? Be careful that in your pursuit of progress…that you don’t leave your family behind. It’s interesting that ‘fame’ and ‘family’ both start with the same letters (they’re in the same family). This means that they are not mutually exclusive. You can be successful in both your work life and your home life…you just have to recognize that your home needs work.
One of the best ways for a pastor or any professional to ensure that his or her family is not being sacrificed on the altar of success is to simply show up – be there and be present. Many children grow up resenting their parents because they were never there. This is especially true for preachers’ kids (PKs). Many PKs become accustomed to one or both of their parents being consumed with the church and the church people. The members monopolize their parents’ time so much that they don’t have a lot left over for their family.
That’s the first mistake. Families deserve what’s first…not what’s left over. As I often tell pastors, “Your MARRIAGE is more important than your MINISTRY, and your CHILDREN are more important than your CHURCH.” There are some who disagree with me, but far too many broken marriages have been blamed on “the church”. I heard one pastor’s wife tell her husband that she just wanted to be a member because then she’d get more attention from him!
Things like this should never be named among the saints. When God called us to ministry, He did not call our families to misery. Family MUST be our priority. In my own life and ministry, my wife and children know that they are priority. I protect time on my schedule just for them. Even with being a bi-vocational pastor, OK make that tri-vocational (is quad-vocational a word?), I have a scheduled family night each week with them. I take my kids to school, show up to have lunch and read with them. I take my wife on regular lunch dates. We are intentional about spending time together.
Yes, I want to be a success in life and ministry, but I do not want to be a failure at family. Fame is good, but as Bishop Ron Gibson said in this episode of Preachers of LA, “I’ll swim the seven seas for my family!” When we put family first…God will take care of the rest.