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In this post, I want to bring your attention to an area that I have been learning (and re-learning) about - a vital priority that must be active before and while anyone is serving in the ministry. It is such an important point that if we don’t let it sink in, everything else we put our hands to in ministry will surely end up being torn down.

Here it is:

If we are desiring to point others to Jesus Christ, we are required to point (and be pointing) our families to Jesus first.

Your family is your ministry – period. Don’t expect to be involved in any ministry very long if your family is suffering because you are busy doing ministry. Being a terrific worship leader, teaching pastor, deacon, or (fill in your role here) while simultaneously being an awful husband, wife or parent at home is not something you should be proud of. Your private issues at home will come back to brutally affect your public ministry, because secret sins almost always pop up at the worst possible time.

Some might say, “But the church needs me!” You are gravely mistaken. Your family needs you. It’s quite possible that the culture that you have created and attempted to maintain within your church has placed you in a position that makes it difficult for you to balance family and church ministry. I would suggest you get to work right away changing that culture before it’s too late. You have to start by recognizing and admitting there is a huge problem. Once you have done that, go to another pastor or ministry friend and ask for some advice and accountability in this area. For the sake of your family and your church, do it now.

The truth real is, the church has survived a long long time, and it will continue to survive after you’re no longer there. Our families on the other hand, cannot survive without us. They need us more than the church does. They deserve our complete attention and presence. I don’t ever want to be guilty of praying more for His bride than I do my own bride. I don’t want the only memories my children have of me to be of their daddy standing on a stage every Sunday, holiday, or special event singing and playing a guitar. I understand the great privilege it is to be used in this way – but my point remains. I want them to know that their earthly father prioritizes and loves them above anyone and everything else – even if that means laying down “church ministry” for a season to be right beside them.

Take note of this: the relationship my children have with me, their earthly father, directly influences the relationship they have / will have with God, their Heavenly Father. If my time is spent being busy about “ministry things” while neglecting my first ministry at home, I might as well be telling my sons that God will likewise have very little time to focus on them when they come needy to him. Obviously nothing could be further from the truth. God loves them with an intense and unfathomable love – a love greater than even my own. May we not cause any reason for this incredible love to be missed by those closest to us, our families. God help each of us in this vital area.

I think it’s very important to state that this admonition does not and should not provide anyone with any sort of permission to become slothful or down-right lazy in their calling or at their place of employment. If you are on staff at a church, serve your community well – as unto the Lord. If you are volunteering your time, be the best volunteer you can be – as unto the Lord. But always remember that ministry starts in and overflows from the home. Keep your family close to you and love them exceptionally well above everything else. They are your first and primary ministry.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

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