1. Saying I “have to” go.

The phone rings and you realize it is a situation that you must respond to immediately. You grab your wallet, keys and quickly tell your family that you “have to” go because someone in the church needs you. This is a scenario that plays out in pastor’s homes every single day, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s look at it from your child’s point of view. As I am playing, eating or talking with my dad his phone rings and I immediately know that he will be leaving. I know he doesn’t want to – because he tells me – but like always, it is something that he has to do. 

Ministry is not something that we have to do. Ministry is something that we get to do. 

When I get a call, I try my best to let my kids see how thankful I am for the opportunity to serve God in that moment. If it is a bad situation, I may ask them to begin praying for those involved, and for me to have safety in traveling and wisdom when I get there. Please, don’t ever paint the picture of ministry being something that divides families, because it doesn’t have to be that way! Ministry is an unbelievable opportunity for my family to serve God and others on a daily basis. I want my kids to see the excitement in doing just that.

2. Saying such and such about so and so.

Being involved in ministry puts you in a position to hear a lot of things about the people around you. Many times these are good things but sometimes they are not. Our kids listen to far more conversations than we realize, and many times, the conversations they do hear are ones that we should not be having in the first place. Once a child hears something about someone they usually do not forget it. They do not have the capacity to filter and fully understand situations or respond in ways that an adult may be able to do. Please protect your children from having to know the dirty secrets of the people around you.

3. Saying everything to everybody but not to your own kids.

This is where I failed the most while I was on staff at our local church. I had time for everybody in the world because it was my job right?!? No matter the time or day, I would be there to listen to whoever needed me…unless it happened to be one of my own children. The Bible really doesn’t give us too many direct commands when it comes to our everyday life, but I was failing miserably at one that it does talk about. One of my primary responsibilities is to be a father. Unfortunately, I let many of the things that the Bible doesn’t talk about take the place of that.

The older I get the more I realize just how much my children want my attention. In fact, they need it as well. Simply intending to do better isn’t going to fix this. In order to change the level of importance your family has in your life, you must be intentional in the way that you live each and every day.

If God has really called you to serve others, then, by all means, influence lives and reach people for Him. I want you to do that with all of your heart. If, however, you reach thousands with your ministry and yet neglect your family, then you have failed as a Christian Leader.

If you are reading this, then obviously you are still alive. That means you still have work to do. You may have regrets about the way you treated your family throughout your ministry, but your life is not over just yet. Talk to your family and let them know the mistakes you may have made. Start tomorrow with a plan to intentionally change the things that need to be fixed, your ministry will only be stronger because of it.

Author Image Andrew

Andrew Smith is an Executive Coach and Leadership speaker with the John Maxwell Team, as well as the Director of Rooftop India, an organization that seeks to train leaders internationally, as well as care for orphans through the ministry of the Azlynn Noelle Children’s Home.

Smith served as an Infantry soldier with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division from 2002-2005. Wounded in Fallujah, Iraq in 2003 by shrapnel from an IED, he is the recipient of the Purple Heart.

Because of his military experience, he now assists as a mentor with Honor & Courage (Operation Ward 57), a non-profit organization that financially assists Wounded Warriors and their families.

He has also owns and operates a small business -Yellow Dawg Striping – in Southwest Virginia.

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