Finding Balance in Ministry
How do you know when your family needs supersede ministry needs?
Whenever leaders are busy in ministry, there will always be significant interruptions due to an unexpected crisis, illness, or stressful situation – and suddenly family needs are butting heads with ministry needs. How do we decide what needs our attention most?
Assess the problem.
Is it a situation that can easily be handled by another family member or a friend who is willing to help in order to enable you to continue with a pressing ministry assignment? If not, your family needs to come first.
Pray for wisdom.
The role of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to be our teacher, guide, and counselor. The Bible is very specific in James 1:5, “If anyone of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” As you pray, expect God’s Spirit to reveal the answer you seek regarding what needs should come first.
Realize it isn’t unspiritual to step back from ministry to take care of personal and family needs.
When a family crisis or sudden illness interrupts your ministry, recognize that ministry will continue without you during the time you take to meet the needs of yourself or your family. During my early years of ministry, an older woman in my church realized I was overwhelmed with “doing too much.” She put her arm around me and whispered, “Remember, Carol, God has others. Sometimes it’s good to delegate responsibility and give other people a chance to develop their gifts.” That decision also frees us to handle personal responsibilities.
Ask yourself if you’ve lost the joy in ministry.
When we have heavy hearts because we are overcommitted in ministry, guilt can easily replace joy when our spouses or children have needs. Losing our joy is the key to recognizing that we need to handle our family needs first.
Meditate on Phillipians 4:6-7.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If your mind is constantly filled with stress because you feel like you are neglecting an important personal or family need, you won’t be effective in ministry. Request a break or a sabbatical while you deal with important personal matters.
Seek the the counsel of a leader you trust.
If you are struggling with this question, make an appointment to talk to a mentor, a Christian leader, or a counselor to discuss the details of your situation. Ask for help in coming to a wise decision.
Carol Kent, speaker and author
My magnificent obsession is to know God, glorifying Him in my character while enjoying Him in the process. My aim is not to achieve “balance.” I long ago decided that balanced people don’t achieve much. So I have surrendered every day and every hour to Him. Therefore, I am continually challenged to discern how He wants me to spend what is really His time while not neglecting Him and the daily disciplines of Bible reading and prayer that help me achieve my goal.
I have long believed that rather than trying to take matters into my own hand and “make time for myself,” I would trust the Lord to provide what He sees that I need. I have been amazed to see how He can supernaturally stretch a twenty-four-hour period so that I accomplish my ministry responsibilities, have time to baby-sit my grandchildren, take an early morning walk, and write a letter to a friend. Allowing Him to measure out my time for ministry, family, friends, or pleasure releases me from the guilty tension of wondering if I am spending my moments wisely. It also frees me from the angry resentment that would otherwise well up within when I’m under pressure and unable to meet the expectations of others. There are days when I don’t complete everything I had on my agenda, but I just assume if I have worked diligently that either those things can be done tomorrow, or they do not have to be done at all.
Proverbs tells us that, “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way (Prov. 20:24)? Paul answers that rhetorical question when he challenged the Galatians to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). So I make it a priority to carve out time every day for stillness to listen to my Shepherd’s directions and keep in step with His Spirit.
Anne Graham Lotz, speaker and author
Raleigh, North Carolina