Thanks for all for the comments on the previous post of the Leadership Journal interview. I too thought that the quote lifted concerning sacrificing family for ministry or ministry for family was misguided and disturbing. The second half of the sentence about the former pastor’s concern that this generation was sacrificing ministry on the altar of family rang hollow and seemed like something that only someone guilty of the reverse was likely to think of.
If you didn’t check out the pingback from my friend Rick’s blog, check out his commentary there too.
Hitting on several of the concerns raised here… I think some (even many) of us are thinking about two main things in our efforts to conceive of and set healthy boundaries concerning our faithfulness to Christ regarding our families and our ministries. One is that we’ve heard plenty of commentary from folks at or after retirement who say something like, “No one looks back and wishes they’d attended more meetings or spent less time with their families.” Well, we’re trying to take that very good point into consideration on the front end.
Another is that, as Songbird mentioned, part of ministry is modeling healthy stewardship of one’s relationships and responsibilities in life. Pastors (and others in ministry leadership) do not get it right all the time, but if they are not on a journey of meaningfully endeavoring to get it right as much as possible, that’s not a good thing. Plenty of folks are not being faithful stewards of the relationships and work in their life. A significant part of ministry is not just what we do but who we are. We dare not reject modelling another way to be simply to keep up with the rat race around us.
Finally, I am still waiting for the book on planting a church or renewing a church and experiencing exceptional growth in both numbers and mission and discipleship, etc, that does not have to either recommend unhealthy (thus non-gospel?) work/family habits or that does not include an apology or admission of neglect of healthy boundaries and relationships. Not to slam on persons who have contributed much to us from sharing their leadership gifts and experiences openly, but I think it worth mentioning that we don’t have a lot of models of doing this with the same excellence in attention to family and relational health as is given to quality programming and experiences of persons newly encountering the church.
Thanks for chiming in on the first post… More thoughts?
AN ADDITION: I do know at least one pastor in our conference who planted and grew a large church (a couple thousand in worship attendance) who has a reputation for his diligence in setting strong boundaries concerning family and ministry, or rather, family and work. Part of that, he has said, involves shaping healthier, more balanced expectations from the outset.