Church planting can create unique stress on pastors and leaders. When it comes to church planting and family life, how much should new church leaders share with their families?
“Brian, they don’t care what happened at work. They don’t care that you’ve surpassed your 7,000 word allotment for the day, or that you could have worked three more hours and still left things undone. They care about you spending time with them.”
This is often the speech I give myself as I pull into my cul-de-sac after work.
I wanted to give some practical takeaways that have allowed me to keep my job, but also keep my family (and in some cases, thrive in both).
Like you, I have work commitments many evenings… But when I’m home…I need to be completely there.
I believe God has given me the chance to be involved in important work each day, at my church. But it’s those three hours in the evening that require me to offer my best time, in a much less public setting. It’s the time between ending work and kissing my last child goodnight.
- From 5:30-8:00 p.m. I avoid working from my phone. It’s still on, should someone need to call me—but I’m not checking emails. (This is easiest if you turn off your phone’s email alerts.)
- Before getting to my house, I often stop down the street to write my last emails from my phone. That way, I can enter the house and not send last-minute emails in front of my kids.
- People have to wait for my email response. Whenever I can, I return emails quickly, but not during this timeframe.
- I’ve already had to have spent time one on one with God. I know I won’t give my best time to my family or church unless I’ve already given God my best early in the day.
The internal monologue I mentioned above is usually followed by a prayer. It’s my driveway prayer. It simply asks God to help me give my best to my wife and family for the next two to three hours—and I sit in my driveway until I feel God providing me peace about that commitment.
I’m not perfect…
…Sometimes urgent ministry needs interrupt those two to three hours
…Sometimes I squeeze in a quick look at my emails while my kids are consumed with another activity or my wife is engaged elsewhere
…And sometimes, my preoccupations with ministry induce me to say “I’m busy, pal” to my four-year-old boy when he says in his raspy voice, “Dad, play dinosaurs with me.”
I believe God created me for a purpose. Part of that purpose is the ministry in His local church. And part is loving my family fully with my mind, body and heart’s attention.
My ministry work gets eight to 12 hours of my day, at least five days a week. But with God’s help, my family gets my “best” hours that week.
- Have your spouse give feedback on what or who is getting the “best” part of your day.
- Commit to an email, social media fast during a set time so you can focus on family.
- Become a driveway pray-er.
This article originally appeared here.