Balancing Ministry and Family

Problem to solve or tension to manage?

by Spencer Click/ March 23, 2021

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV) 

Problems are guaranteed in life—some problems need to be solved, some problems need to be managed, and ultimately all problems need to be given to God. One of the hardest leadership tasks we can tackle is deciding whether something is a problem to solve or a tension to manage. Some challenges we face in life and ministry are just the reality of the world. 

One thing that is true about ministry—there is no such thing as truly part-time ministry. There’s certainly part-time pay (or even no pay), but the work of ministry is always there. A call to ministry will occupy your life 24-7. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be if you do not manage it well. This balance is an example of a tension to manage. 

When you come home after working at the church on a project or completing a service, what do you bring home? Do you hold a vent session with your spouse? Do you say, “I need some alone time”? Or do you suffer from the same thing so many ministry leaders suffer from—“It’s Monday; I QUIT!” 

Ministry is not for the fainthearted. It is hard work and often thankless and exhausting. But, one of the tensions we must manage is making sure our families do not get the leftovers. We must intentionally build time into our lives to make sure ministry is not a hindrance to our spouses and kids. 

Managing this tension requires having some set parameters and understandings with your spouse and your ministry commitment. A good example is from a friend of mine. We’ve all had Sundays that land on the same day as a spouse’s or child’s birthday. What do you do? You cannot just skip church and you certainly cannot skip the birthday. My friend had a policy—if a Sunday landed on a child’s birthday, they celebrated the birthday all week long. It actually made it into a positive thing instead of a negative—but it was an intentional choice. 

We each have to make that same choice in managing the tension between ministry and family. If we do not make a plan, then our families will get the short end of the stick.