We spent the past few days visiting our son and his family in Philadelphia. Living some distance from them means we don't get to see them often enough, but it's always exciting when we are able to make the trip.
Shortly after accepting the call to pastor the church where I spent twenty years of pastoral ministry I visited one of the senior pastors in our association. He told me during that visit how his wife and children had suffered due to his ministry. His wife maintained a pastor's spouse demeanor on the outside, but inside she experienced a lot of emotional pain. This pastor confessed that his adult children seldom visited since he had little time for them when they were growing up.
His story confirmed a vow I had made when I entered ministry: I would not sacrifice my family on the altar of ministerial success. Yes, God had called me to ministry, but He had also called me to provide for my family. I always took that to mean more than financial provision. I also have an obligation to tend to their emotional and spiritual needs as well
I was the pastor of a church, but I was also the pastor of my wife and children. More than that, I was a husband to my wife and a father to our children. I made sure our church understood the priority I gave to my family, and I was blessed that they honored that priority.
It's easy to allow other things to interfere with time spent with family, but we must not allow that to happen. Even when I had the most demands on my time I still made the time to coach our son's little league and pony league baseball teams. We made time to attend our daughter's junior high and high school track events and our son's high school baseball games. I can count on one hand the number of track meets and baseball games I missed.
One of the most important things a family can do is to create memories that will last when members of that family are no longer around. My parents have both been gone for several years, but there are some memories I have of them that always keeps them close to me. We've tried to create the same kind of memories with our children.
The people in your church needs you, but so does your family. Keep your family a priority in your life. Take the time to create wonderful memories that your children will be able to share with their children.