Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Who is getting cheated?

Who is getting cheated in my life - my family or Central (my church & job)? Ever since Andy Stanley gave a message at the Leadership Summit (in 2006 I believe) on cheating the church instead of your family, I have thought about this topic. I do not think I have the balance figured out, and for that my family has suffered. On a regular basis I communicate to my wife and boys that my job at the church is more important to them with long hours, many nights away from home, and choosing work over family time. The church gets my firstfruits and my family has to deal with leftovers. It sucks. I remember during that message at the Summit, seeing many of the church leaders struggling with this. How sad is it when some of the people having the most trouble choosing work over family are pastors? No one at church sets out to cheat their family, but the safeguards are not exactly in place to stop it from happening either. When talking to my friend Jeremy at work I told him of my struggle to avoid checking my work e-mail at home. He laughed and said he stopped trying to fight that battle a long time ago. It just stinks because I know at times it truly makes my wife so upset and hurt. Plus, I know given enough time of my kids getting the shaft, they'll learn to resent the church as well. What do I do? I do not resent the church or think it is a bad place...I just don't know how to manage giving my family what they deserve. I envy the men who are home in time for dinner and spend the weekends doing family stuff. Am I alone in this struggle? I press forward in my struggle. In youth ministry, I don't know if there will ever be an answer to this problem. Just something you deal with and hope that at the end of the day/month/year/lifetime that my family is still there in support of me and in relationship with God.


Cassie said...

Coming from the other side of this (as a child of church staff) I can tell you that it is a constant struggle for our family as well. I think it became easier as Kris and I got older and could do our own thing, but it was very hard when we were younger and Dad was either gone all the time or we were stuck at church for long hours with him.

There is hope though- Kris and I dont resent the church because of the way we were raised. We instead have seen the example that our parents have set of putting God first, but also making sure our family is taken care of.

Jeremy said...

I feel you on this one. As both a preacher's kid and now a preacher, I have dealt with this. I think the key is not necessarily time spent on each (in that case our standard 40 hour work week is absurd) but on felt-importance.

Whenever possible I'll change a meeting or move something around at work for my family when something comes up. That way, they know that they still have first priority. We have to find ways to show our families that they take first importance and we can then fulfill our ministry responsibilities by working around our family's needs. I think and hope that you can do both successfully.