*Cough cell phone and Netflix cough*
I'm sure just about everyone has given their family or closest friends the back burner at times. We get busy and stuff happens. I get it. But, that doesn't mean it needs to keep happening! We need to open our eyes, be honest with ourselves, and break those cycles.
As a pastor, it's easy for me to get so caught up in the "work of the ministry" and get so busy that my family becomes an afterthought. My family. My wife and son. The two people I love more than anyone else. The two people I enjoy spending time with the most.
These two are usually my first and second round picks when choosing to forget or ignore someone in my life. That's super crappy. That's not how God intended family or ministry to work. (Or for any of our lives and schedules to work for that matter.)
As Christians, our first priority and our first calling in life is to love and serve Jesus. We need to spend QUALITY time and QUANTITY of time with Him. We should WANT to do those things. If we don't do these things first and foremost, then everything else will fall apart.
Secondly, we are called to love and serve our families. My first ministry is to Jesus. My second ministry is to my family. Our home is the first ministry and mission field we are called to!
One of the most important ministries I'm called to is living life with my family and being a loving husband and father.
We do make time for the things that matter most to us. Whether it means getting up earlier, staying up later, or giving up our lunch break. We will find time for the most important things. We will make the time.
We will also make room in our budget for the things that matter to us most. Whether it means getting a second job, skipping a meal, cutting out the extras, or saving up for awhile. We will find money for the most important things to us. We will make it happen.
If we want a true and honest perspective of the priorities in our life, then we don't need to look any further than our calendars and our bank accounts. Give it a shot, it might surprise you.
Last Sunday, like most Sundays, I had a list of a dozen things I needed to do and make sure I remembered before leaving home for our church service that evening. My wife and I live in Detroit Lakes, but we pastor a church in Park Rapids. We currently meet in the town's library basement. The library is a great location and the price is right, but it does make it a little more difficult and challenging to pastor a church when needing to travel 40 miles each way, set up music and sound equipment, and tear down music and sound equipment every Sunday. There are quite a few things going on behind the scenes to make a church service happen. (Thankfully, we have a ton of helpful people and an awesome church family to help us out!)
While I was getting my church to do list taken care of this last Sunday, my son was being a little bit of a pill. He really wanted to play outside, but he didn't understand we REALLY didn't have the time. I was already running a little late and still needed to: get all his diaper bag stuff together, get him dressed, let the dogs out, get the music and sound equipment loaded in the car, get some gas, run to the store and pick something up, etc. You get the picture.
I was running all over the place and then I finally decided to listen to the Lord. I heard God say, "Why don't you think you have time to play with Andrew?" I just shrugged, laughed, and then walked over to my son and pushed him around in his little car he was given by his Aunt Wendy and Uncle Eric.
(Here's a link (click here) to a short video on Instagram of me pushing baby boy around.)
I only spent 3 or 4 minutes of undivided attention playing with him, but it made all of the difference in his demeanor and attitude. And it made all the difference in mine too! We both had a lot of fun, it only took a few minutes, and we still got everything done we needed to do for church.
While I was pushing him around, I thought to myself, "I don't want to be one of those pastors or fathers in ministry whose kid ends up hating church and hating God cause his dad didn't have his priorities straight and was a bad father." That can and does happen at times, but it never should.
Paul actually writes to Timothy about the qualifications of leaders in the church in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 and says,
"one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);"
If I'm not doing a good job of ministering to, serving, and loving my family, then I am not qualified to minister to or serve a church family in a position of leadership. If we don't take care of the mission field and ministry opportunities at home, then we aren't deserving of doing them at a larger scale or in a larger setting.
If I can't be trusted to take care of my small family of 3, then why would I ever be trusted to take care of a church family?
We need to prove ourselves trustworthy and be good stewards with what we have before we can be given more. If I can't lead my own family well, then how could I lead a church well?!
Please remember your first mission field, your first ministry. Remember God and your family.
Turn off the tv, the laptop, the tablet, the cell phone, and be with your family. Be consumed and be social with them instead of with media, games and online profiles of people you don't even care about.