Balancing Family and Ministry- It Can Be Done!

As I write this, my husband is in the hospital with a nasty infection, my December calendar is begging to be filled every day, and a family vacation is up in the air (cold air that is). I feel perfectly qualified to write on ‘Balancing family and ministry”, right?
When I heard this title, somewhere my mind said…

God first

Family second

Church third

Work fourth, and so on.

Now this sounds right.  This list seems like it is even scripturally sound. It sounds like if you don’t live this way, your life is out of control, or at least balance.

In all honesty, I have never really seen life like this. (I can almost hear the gasps)

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The word ‘balance’, by definition means:

‘an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.’   In other words, out of balance causes someone or something to be unstable and topple.

I believe that the definition of balance does not require us to make a vertical list of priorities, but rather, a list that looks more like this:

GOD

MARRIAGE   FAMILY CHURCH   WORK LEISURE

In other words, GOD IS OVER ALL THINGS AND IN ALL THINGS!

Do we not want God to stabilize and be a part of our marriage, permeate our children, inspire our work, and influence our community?  Jesus did this so brilliantly, as He was a part of life around him. He spoke in everyday pictures. He ate and talked with close friends.  There didn’t appear to be a separation of ministry and life – ministry WAS life. God is in all, and through all, horizontally moving through life’s journey.

So what does this look like in real life?  How has it looked in my life?

Our children grew up in a ministry-focused home.  When they were quite small, my husband worked in a public school as a music teacher, and we were both very involved in our local church.  Serving at church was an automatic instinct.  While our kids were in elementary school, my husband came on full time staff at our church.  Twenty years ago, we planted Southgate Church with all our kids on board.

After transitioning into full-time ministry, I noticed a few things:

  1. Ministry is fun.  If we authentically enjoy what we do, what we do is also authentically who we are.  Sure there are days when we are tired, like in anything, but more often we benefit by ministry.  We give, but we receive so much more! We are even being empowered to be better parents by serving in other areas. Sometimes we miss the connection when we keep ministry separate, or negate it by complaining.

  2. Ministry is an example to your family of what it means to be a Christian.  Ministry isn’t an option.  Deuteronomy. 11:13 says, “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

  3. There will be times of imbalance. There will be times when ministry seems to take over, when there are deadlines, heavier than usual demands, and unexpected circumstances.  There will be times when there are family emergencies, like a husband in the hospital. Such is life. When life happens, avoid the imbalance of extreme speech and feeling guilty about the imbalance in your life.  This too shall pass.  If it doesn’t, re-evaluate and get back into a healthy rhythm.  If you don’t find a healthy rhythm, burnout will happen. Without balance, burnout won’t be a matter of if, but when.  Matthew 11:28-30 (message bible) says, “Are you tired?  Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

  4. Ministry doesn’t have to ‘take away’ from your family but can be a valuable addition in ways nothing else can.   Our kids got to see what ministry meant in our family. Our kids got to experience ministry and let it become a part of their very fabric.  God added to our children in ways that my husband and I never could have.  We want our children to succeed and love the Lord with all their heart, but sometimes we don’t let Him do it.  We want God to bless all our efforts, and think it totally depends on us. We are not capable of doing what God can, so we just have to trust Him with our desires. We must rely on the Holy Spirit, our helper.  I have seen God so graciously reveal Himself to our kids in ways I never, ever could have.  

I have seen firsthand that in order to have balance between family and ministry, Christ needs to be placed in the top spot. With Christ in the centre of everything we do, the balance we so desperately crave will fall into place!

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By Tomana McTaggart

Tomana McTaggart is co-lead pastor of Southgate Church which her husband Dave and her planted 21 years ago.  Besides loving being a pastor, Tomana adores her 3 children and their amazingly perfect spouses plus is blessed to have the most adorable seven grandkids.

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