Many years ago, there were two steamboats that decided to raise down the river. They were dead even for the first few miles, but soon one of the boats pulled ahead. The other boat that was losing, threw all of their wood into their ship's furnace. But it still wasn't enough. The other boat was still ahead. Desperate, the boat that was losing, decided to throw the cargo they were transporting into the furnace. It worked. They pulled ahead of the other boat and won the race.
But after the hype had passed, they realized their desire to win had caused them to make a bad decision. Even though they won the race, they had lost all of their precious cargo. The cargo they had been entrusted with was gone.
Their is a valuable lesson in this for ministry leaders. You can get so busy trying to win the world for Jesus that you lose your most important ministry, which is your family.
Remember this verse?
"What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and forfeit his own soul?" Mark 8:36
Here is some food for thought.
"What does it profit a minister if he/she wins the whole world to Jesus and forfeits his/her own family?"
Our ministry should be in this order.
If it gets in this order, you will look back and have some regrets one day.
I can say this by experience. When I first started in ministry, I was on a mission. I wanted every person in the world to know about Jesus and it was my job to reach them.
This lead me to work too much, be away from home too often and not be there for my family at times.
It took years for me to get some sense in my head and get my priorities in the right order.
If you are in ministry and your priorities are out of order, please, please, please make some changes.
Be home at night with your family.
Eat dinner with your family consistently.
Go to your kid's games.
Take your day off and spend it with your family.
Take your family on vacation trips.
Time moves so fast. Before you know it your kids are gone. Remember, the days are long (you can identify with this if you have a preschooler). But the years are short. Make them count.
The last thing you want is for your wife and kids to be bitter because you put the ministry before them.
As I mentioned, when I first started in ministry, I worked at the church too much. This caused my son to be bitter toward me. It took years for him to forgive me. We have a great relationship now and he loves Jesus, shares his faith with others and is faithful to church. This is because of the grace of God in spite of my misplaced priorities.
Set boundaries around your time with your family. Block it off on your calendar - remember it's your most important ministry. And don't let anything stand in the way of your time with your family. Of course, their will be an emergency occasionally that you have to be at. But it should be the exception and not the norm.
Spend more time praying for your child than you do praying for other people's children.
Spend more time eating dinner with your family than you do eating out with staff friends.
Spend more time teaching your children God's Word than you do teaching other people's children.
Spend more time playing with your children than you do playing with the kids at church.
Spend more time with your wife than you do with people in the church.
Spend more time talking with your wife than you do talking with other people on the phone.
Love your wife more than you love the ministry.
Spend more time working on your own marriage than you do other people's marriages.
Recently I read an article about Billy Graham and his family.
After he married his wife, Ruth, she caught a chill while returning from their honeymoon. Instead of cancelling a preaching engagement he had in Ohio and staying by his new bride's side while she was sick, he checked her into a hospital and went to his preaching engagement.
Ruth was hurt, but she soon realized that nothing on Billy's priority list came before preaching. Billy's crusades often took him around the world and there was little time left for Ruth and the children. At one point, Billy came home from an extensive preaching schedule and his son, Franklin, said "Who is he?"
No matter how passionate you are to reach the world for Jesus, you should not neglect your greatest ministry, your family.
I challenge you to look at your current priorities. Is your family in second place behind God? Do you need to re-adjust and correct your priorities? Are you giving your family the time and attention they need?
Your family must be your most important ministry behind loving Jesus.