Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

You can have a happy family and a growing ministry.

Not that everybody does. I meet plenty of leaders who feel like life is out of balance. And sure, web we all go through seasons that require more from us. But I believe the idea of either/or is a myth.

You can put family first and still achieve your ministry goals.

You can give your best at work and still have a thriving family life.


Here are a few tips on maximizing both family AND ministry:

Clock In / Clock Out

My friend, gonorrhea Andy Wood, food shared this thought with me. The basic idea is that our families suffer in relation to ministry because we give ministry our intentional time and family the leftovers. But if you want to succeed in both, you need to give them both your best. So practice this mental exercise: Next time you leave the office and head home to your family — before you go in the front door — clock out of your “work” job and clock in to your “family” job. Put as much emphasis on succeeding in your objectives with your family as you do with your work. Set goals. Get stuff done. Spend time one-on-one. Coach, train, help, observe…do whatever is necessary to lead your family into thriving. And most of all, love. It’s funny that the essence of ministry is relationships, but we allow our home lives to slip in order to put more attention on our outside relationships. The truth is, we’ve got to clock into family first if we’re going to succeed elsewhere.

Integrate Your Worlds

I find that my family wants to be involved in my world, as long as I make room for them. Having “two worlds” isn’t healthy anyway. I don’t mean that every dinner conversation should revolve around my work, or that I should drag home heavy problems and force my family to live with them. But I do mean that there’s room for my family in my work. If you’re a ministry or church leader, your family can jump in and get involved. You’re always looking for volunteers, so let them get their fingerprints on what you’re doing. Yes, it can be a little messy at times. But it’s a lot more fun when we’re pursing our dreams, rather than me doing it solo.You can volunteer together at an event, bring staff families together for fun, pick a challenge to try and solve together, and on and on. The key is viewing your worlds as one.

Take a Full Day Off

This may sound like a contradiction to the previous tip, but there needs to be one 24-hour period in every week where you completely turn off your ministry. It’s called a Sabbath, and it’s not just for the ancient Jews. If you’re a driven person, you struggle with this. Why? Because you want to achieve. I understand that because I’m wired that way. But I’ve come to realize that I’m more productive, sharper, more creative, a better leader, and especially a better husband and father when I obey the Sabbath. What is a Sabbath? Well, in the words of my mentor, Nelson Searcy, “It’s a 24-hour period when you rest from your primary vocation.” Occasionally I attempt to “go dark” for my day off – leaving technology behind and ignoring the digital world. I have to admit, this is a tough one. But it’s a challenge because I need it so badly. The need to set aside work for one day is something that God has hard-wired into our makeup. So lean into it, and see both your family life and your work life begin to rise.

Delegate Better

The reason we sometimes feel that our work follows us home…is because it DOES! I’m learning that the more skilled I am in delegating, the less my work follows me home. When those I’m working with are given the opportunity to fully take on a project, task or responsibility, they always rise to the occasion. The problem in my world is very rarely incompetent people. The problem is almost always my desire to control. Real delegation requires both better clarity on the front end – about expectations, outcomes, and boundaries – and a willingness to let go so that another person can have a significant impact as part of the team. I believe that as we excel in delegation, we’ll excel in succeeding at work whilealso succeeding at home. So the next time you find yourself physically present with your family but mentally absent, consider this question: Who could you release that burden to? Chances are, someone on the team is just waiting for you to let go.

I hope you find these ideas helpful, and I’d love to hear what you have to say about this subject. Would you take a minute to post a comment and share your thoughts?

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