This is part 2 of our 3 part series on avoiding ministry burnout. In part 1, we talked about enjoying the fruits of our labors by treating ourselves. Today, we are going to focus on family.
Throughout my early childhood, my family ate dinner together almost every night at the dining table.
There were no cell phones. The TV was out of sight in the living room. We sat, ate, and talked about our day in great detail with one another. The time we had together grew us closer as a family and gave us a great sense of stability.
As my sister and I got older, our schedules started getting a little crazier with sports, jobs, and church activities. The TV got bigger and cell phones got smarter. That dining table which was once used every night for our family dinners quickly turned into a catch all for junk mail and backpacks. The family dinner ultimately migrated into the living room and dynamic changed forever.
Eventually, I left the nest and got married. As we settled into marriage, our schedules were busy and the act of sitting together to eat with no distractions was rare. It wasn’t until my wife and I started to get burned out from church events that we realized something was wrong. Rather than having the time for us to solely focus on each others needs, we felt like ships in the night just passing by.
What’s Your Table?
Between work schedules, schooling, and other odds and ends…, gathering around a table regularly may not be possible. After all, the table isn’t what’s important, it’s the act of spending quality time together. For me personally, it meant waking up early to have coffee with my wife before she went into work. Sometimes we’d go to bed early just to talk about the day. No matter how crazy our schedule gets, setting aside the time for us to communicate and encourage each other has to be a priority.
Whether married or single, we need to find our family “table” and gather around it regularly.
Call your mother on your way home from work each day.
Help your dad wash his car on Saturdays.
Meet your sister regularly for coffee.
Whatever our “table” is, we need to meet at it regularly to fellowship.
But…My Church Family Needs Me
I have personally witnessed many men and women of the faith neglect their family for their church family. It’s easy for us ministry leaders to get into the mindset that we are always “on call” so to speak in our ministry area. Worse yet, we think that we need to fix every problem that arises in the church. Texting and emailing church members while in the presence of your spouse and children doesn’t count as family time. Satan loves to use this neglect to bring once strong families to ruin.
“Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fall will be servant to the wise.” -Proverbs 11:29
We only have 1,440 minutes in each day. Once we subtract sleep and work from that equation, it leaves little time for the family. This means we have to intentionally disconnect from the things that waste our time and keep us away from the table.
I believe the family was established long before the church, and my duty is to my family first. I am not to neglect my family.
Dwight L. Moody
Turn the phone off.
Cook with your spouse.
Read a book to your kids.
Reach out to your sibling.
Our family ministry will always trump our church ministry. They were there before…and they will be right by our side when we lock those church doors after the Sunday service.