We discussed something pretty powerful the other morning in our Staff Meeting. We were talking about protecting our family relationships from the work of ministry, the church. It’s so easy for us as church staff to blur the lines between church stuff and family stuff because we do it in the name of our “calling”. And we tend to feel like we’re doing what God wants by pouring the best of ourselves in to the church and giving our families the leftovers (if there is any).
Many people say they are “called to ministry”. I’m called to be a pastor, a worship leader, a deacon, a missionary, a greeter, teacher, usher, soundguy, etc. And that “call” is from God and is almost like a permission slip that says God will take care of everything because I am being faithful to my “calling”. So a simple concept came to mind as we were sharing.
I know I’m called to ministry. So are you.
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for youÃ¢â‚¬â€from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
1 Peter 2:9,10
Where we get confused is on the definition of “work”, or “ministry”. I think we (church people, church staff, pastors, etc.) think of ministry as “church work”, even though we would never say that, we live our lives like that. Devoting hours upon hours to things like “furthering the kingdom”, or “shepherding the flock”. We don’t hear many church people talk passionately about “ministering” to their families, or their spouses. We don’t see them investing the time and energy that it takes to build a strong foundation in the home. We don’t see a lot of them pursuing self-leadership in their own personal lives. Oh yeah they can lead a church or a ministry, but not their homes or themselves.
I’m reminded of this scripture:
For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s church?
1 Timothy 3:5
I mean it really doesn’t get much simpler than that does it? Yet over and over we see the church filled with gifted (“annointed”, a christian term for “they got the right stuff”) leaders who have no business leading a church because they can’t even manage their own household. And the church just shines it right along, even encouraging it by forcing pastors, staff, leaders, and volunteers to serve and give until they’re completely useless, then they are thrown out, left with broken hearts, broken spirits, and broken families.
Here’s what I know. I am called to ministry. I am called to minister to myself first. I know sounds selfish huh? But if I can’t lead myself I have failed. If I can’t call my own life into the standards I set for others, then I am a hypocrite, a liar, and a failure as a minister.
I am called to minister to my wife second. There’s a ring on my finger that reminds me of that every day. It is my “calling”. If I fail at that, I’ve failed as a minister.
My next calling is to be a father. I have two living, breathing, wild and crazy kids that remind me of that every day. They need my love and leadership as a dad. If I fail as a father, I’ve failed as a minister.
If I am failing in my primary areas of ministry then I have no business ministering to God’s church.
[And yes we all fail. But if I am consistently failing, there will be consequences]
Come back soon for a synopsis of a little message I heard yesterday at the SW Church Planting Forum. It’s along the same lines, with some great “take home” stuff.