Balancing Family and Ministry

December 4, 2012     Keith Parker    

I am a busy person.  So is my wife.  So are you.  To be honest, I don’t know if I have ever met a person who isn’t busy, running from one thing to the next, trying to stay sane in the process.  And living a life of ministry doesn’t make it any easier – meetings, conferences, retreats, staff gatherings, and church obligations keep us hopping.

In addition to all these church-related duties, I am also a husband and a father to three boys under the age of 10.  Sometimes, finding a balance between ministry and family can be very difficult.  Here are a few ways I balance my ministry and my family.  Maybe they can encourage you as you seek that balance.

1.  I honor my day off and protect it with my life.  Thursday is my day to unwind, hang with Matthew (my 2-year old), do some graphic design, run some miles, and mess around.  I guard it hard, and don’t plan any meetings on that day.  It’s my family day, and I try really hard not to let people infringe upon that. Do you guard your day off so that your family knows that day is theirs?

2.  We make it a point to try to eat dinner together every evening.  Even when things are busy at the office, I come home for dinner and some family time in the evening.  I may get out the computer again when my boys go to bed, but building that consistency in to our family has been a big deal.  I even come home and eat on Wednesday at about 4:30 or 5, then rush back to the church for Wednesday nights at 6:00.  Though they never say anything, I think our boys appreciate the time together each night.  Do you have built-in time every day for your family?

3.  We try to be deliberate with evening time.  Our boys come home at 4, and we give them about 30 minutes to unwind, eat a snack, then do homework.  After homework, we make and eat dinner, clean up, and then usually have some family time before bed at about 8:30.  Some see routine as boring, but I see it as sanity.  What is your routine?  Is it working?

4.  I communicate to my church as often as possible that family comes first.  Whether through verbally saying this in a meeting or from the stage, or taking off early to go to a school program, meeting my wife for lunch, or whatever, I TRY to make that priority list clear.  How do you communicate to your family and others that family is a high priority?

These are just a few ways I try to put my family first.  I don’t always hit the mark, but I try my best to let me family know that they are valued and loved, not just by my words, but also by my actions.

What would you add to the list?

Categories: FeaturedSlider, Marriage
Comments

18 thoughts on “Balancing Family and Ministry”

  1. Joshua Fuentes

    Great stuff Keith. I especially love number 2 on the list. Having dinner with the family makes a huge difference in anyone’s family life. Sitting down and processing life together is something we all need, and food always seems to do the trick!

  2. Joshua Fuentes

    Great stuff Keith. I especially love number 2 on the list. Having dinner with the family makes a huge difference in anyone’s family life. Sitting down and processing life together is something we all need, and food always seems to do the trick!

  3. Shane

    I believe that your points are good, regardless of vocation. As a former family life/youth pastor and preacher’s kid, I would only challenge one part of this blog- ‘one day off’. Ministry seems to be one of the few jobs where it seems quite acceptable, even normal, to work 6 days out of the week. If you were counseling someone trying to maintain a work/life balance and they described working 6 days, spending time after the kids go to bed on the computer and running home to eat dinner before heading back to the job, you would probably commend them for their efforts to do what they can to be present, but I hope that you would also challenge them to consider whether or not that’s truly taking a ‘balanced’ approach. Family shouldn’t be an equal balance to the job, it should be first. How many days off do the majority of those on your church board or in your congregation have during the week?

    My concern, and my own experience, is that even though the kids are asleep, the wife is still in need of some undivided attention. Too often, the needs of the church can overshadow the needs of the one that you were called to first. Also, as the kids get older and are part of more activities, they need to see that Dad is just as focused on their life as he is the lives of those in his ministry.

    I’m not in anyway implying that this is your experience, I just believe that those in full-time, vocational ministry need additional support and accountability. I’m best friends with the Children’s Minister at my church and try to push him on this matter as well. His one day off is Friday. It’s difficult for him to role model being involved when his only real, uninterrupted time is from school getting out until bedtime, once a week (about 5 hours).

    Thanks for blogging this and keeping it front and center. Too many good men sacrifice their family in the name of their ministry. No one benefits from that…

    By the way, were we at JBC during the same years (1995-1998)?

    -Shane

    1. Keith Parker

      Hey Shane, thanks for your thoughts. I should have probably mentioned that Saturday is “my day.” Though it sometimes gets filled with retreats or events, it often is a family day. And I totally agree that you have to be careful with just giving your family “a little” time each day. It’s got to be quality time and quantity time.

      Not sure what your last name is, but I was at JBC from 1999-2001, so I may have just missed you.

  4. Shane

    I believe that your points are good, regardless of vocation. As a former family life/youth pastor and preacher’s kid, I would only challenge one part of this blog- ‘one day off’. Ministry seems to be one of the few jobs where it seems quite acceptable, even normal, to work 6 days out of the week. If you were counseling someone trying to maintain a work/life balance and they described working 6 days, spending time after the kids go to bed on the computer and running home to eat dinner before heading back to the job, you would probably commend them for their efforts to do what they can to be present, but I hope that you would also challenge them to consider whether or not that’s truly taking a ‘balanced’ approach. Family shouldn’t be an equal balance to the job, it should be first. How many days off do the majority of those on your church board or in your congregation have during the week?

    My concern, and my own experience, is that even though the kids are asleep, the wife is still in need of some undivided attention. Too often, the needs of the church can overshadow the needs of the one that you were called to first. Also, as the kids get older and are part of more activities, they need to see that Dad is just as focused on their life as he is the lives of those in his ministry.

    I’m not in anyway implying that this is your experience, I just believe that those in full-time, vocational ministry need additional support and accountability. I’m best friends with the Children’s Minister at my church and try to push him on this matter as well. His one day off is Friday. It’s difficult for him to role model being involved when his only real, uninterrupted time is from school getting out until bedtime, once a week (about 5 hours).

    Thanks for blogging this and keeping it front and center. Too many good men sacrifice their family in the name of their ministry. No one benefits from that…

    By the way, were we at JBC during the same years (1995-1998)?

    -Shane

    1. Keith Parker

      Hey Shane, thanks for your thoughts. I should have probably mentioned that Saturday is “my day.” Though it sometimes gets filled with retreats or events, it often is a family day. And I totally agree that you have to be careful with just giving your family “a little” time each day. It’s got to be quality time and quantity time.

      Not sure what your last name is, but I was at JBC from 1999-2001, so I may have just missed you.

  5. Alex Foltz

    Great stuff! Encouraged that I am at least making attempts to do all of these with my family, but also challenged to do a better job. I often don’t protect my day off as well as I should BECAUSE my wife and I are both so busy, but that’s probably the direct reason I SHOULD protect it. Thanks Keith!

  6. Alex Foltz

    Great stuff! Encouraged that I am at least making attempts to do all of these with my family, but also challenged to do a better job. I often don’t protect my day off as well as I should BECAUSE my wife and I are both so busy, but that’s probably the direct reason I SHOULD protect it. Thanks Keith!

  7. Josh Robinson

    Great blog post Keith. Thanks for sharing on how you spend time with family. I want to learn more so when my son gets older we can grow closer as a family. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Josh Robinson

    Great blog post Keith. Thanks for sharing on how you spend time with family. I want to learn more so when my son gets older we can grow closer as a family. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Keith Parker

      I’m thankful that it’s only Wednesdays, and I make it a point to be home by 5 at the latest on every other night. Being a good dad who loves and instructs his children well in the ways of the Lord is something I worry about a LOT. That’s the stuff that keeps me up at night. Keep pressing on, Jonathan!

      1. Jonathan Pearson

        My running to-and-fro is compounded by the fact that I am bivocational and have an almost hour commute morning and evening. Praying and looking forward to the day when my drive is just a few minutes to the church. Thanks for the follow-up.

  9. Jonathan Pearson

    Your description of rushing home to eat dinner, then rushing back to the church is painfully familiar. Glad I’m not the only one who does this.

    1. Keith Parker

      I’m thankful that it’s only Wednesdays, and I make it a point to be home by 5 at the latest on every other night. Being a good dad who loves and instructs his children well in the ways of the Lord is something I worry about a LOT. That’s the stuff that keeps me up at night. Keep pressing on, Jonathan!

      1. Jonathan Pearson

        My running to-and-fro is compounded by the fact that I am bivocational and have an almost hour commute morning and evening. Praying and looking forward to the day when my drive is just a few minutes to the church. Thanks for the follow-up.

  10. Christian_Mike

    Great stuff, Keith. Truth is everyone is busy, but we’re all the same amount of busy. We all have 24 hours in a day. What are we busy doing? Great reminder.

  11. John Gilliam

    Great stuff, we must balance ministry and family. As a single youth pastor sometimes as bad as I want to send parents an email about that upcoming ministry event I usually take care of it when I return to my office. When I do get married I have always said that ministry will not come between my family. This was a great reminder. Thanks again.

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