Balancing Work and Home

Do you steward your time?

by Dick Gruber, D.Min./ January 20, 2015

It was 1984. My medical doctor had just given me bad news. With Christian kindness in his eyes, the doctor said, “You are going to be a fat, dead children’s pastor before age forty and your wife and children won’t care, because they won’t know you.” Wow!

I had only been a paid children’s pastor for five years. During my first assignment in Farmington, Minnesota, the senior pastor often told me to go home and spend time with my wife and kids. He knew the importance of balance. I didn’t get the message and so, a few years later I found myself struggling physically, spiritually, and professionally. I was in a large church with large expectations. Family wasn’t a priority.

Wayne Cordeiro writes, “The only way to finish strong will be to first replenish your system. If you don’t, prepare for a crash.”[1] I was crashing. I was not a healthy leader. My systems were not being replenished. Life and ministry were out of balance.

My doctor informed me that there was a law at work. He called it the law of diminishing returns. In his words, “Once you’ve worked forty to fifty hours a week, all further work is futile. You think you’re getting a lot accomplished for God, but you are really being a poor steward of time. Your efficiency is tapering off and you are spinning your wheels. You’ll be a better children’s pastor—and get more done—if you spend less time at the office.”

I knew I had to make changes. My dream was to serve children and their families until retirement. But I had to bring my life into balance. I’ve provided you with a bullet list of concepts that helped me become a healthier children’s pastor.

  • Balance is a choice. Family and ministry will always contend for your time and energy. Choose to give energy to that which is most important—family.
  • Nobody can do this for you. YOU need to replenish your spirit through time with God, family, and in recreational activities that have nothing to do with ministry or church people.
  • You need help if balance is to remain a priority. Make yourself accountable to your spouse and/or close Christian friends.
  • Inform your pastor of the new plan. The last thing you need is your pastor thinking you just boarded the lazy train.
  • Plan for balance. Church work flows in seasons of really intense activity followed by a lull, until the next event. You can’t call off Sunday or that special event. But you can work Sabbath times into the calendar. 
I’m so thankful for that doctor’s advice. I became a healthier, better children’s pastor as a result of following his prescription. I know you can begin to bring balance into your life and ministry. Until next time, you may want to read Wayne Cordeiro’s Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion.

[1]Wayne Cordeiro, Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2009), 27.