I love being productive. I love seeing results. And it is especially rewarding when I am able to produce good results for something I believe in with a great team of people. To this end, our leadership team invests in carving out time to strategize and plan. There are many brainstorming sessions, evaluations, and meetings to prepare for events and programs. We also pray for the people we want to serve, and for wisdom in knowing how to best bring God’s kingdom here on earth. We do our best to be intentional and strategic with our time and energy to accomplish our goals.
But here’s a pivotal question: how much intentional time and focus do pastors give to lead their family? How many hours in a week are spent to move the family into health and purpose?
God calls us to lead our families with the same intentionality as we do with the church. We see this in 1 Timothy 3:5, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” In fact, this should be our first calling. Are we as pastors taking our call to serve and lead our family first seriously?.
This is not just an extracurricular activity, but something that needs to be a core priority. In one survey by the New York Times, 80% of pastors reported that ministry had negatively impacted affected their family dynamics. 77% of pastors shared that they do not have a good marriage. Anecdotally, you can see this pastoral family tension in things like the stereotype of the rebellious PK (pastor’s kid).
Would things be different if the pastor focused on leading their family first? I believe so and I want to encourage pastors to make this their first priority. Investing in your family may require shifting of priorities, schedules, and commitments. But it is well worth it and can bear much fruit both at home and at church. Below are 3 tips to help you get started based on three core elements we often do to lead our ministries.
1) CREATE VISION: What’s the desired outcome for your family?
Vision tells us where we are going and what we are hoping for. It’s a buzzword in leadership circles at the workplace but often overlooked at home. So what is the desired outcome for your family? Take time to think and pray about this. Here are some other questions to think through this question.
- What kind of marriage and relationship do you want to have with your spouse in one year, 5 years and 20 years? What does it look like?
- What about for your children? What kind of family dynamic and reputation do you want to have with your kids?
- What do you NOT want your family to be known for?
2) EXECUTE VISION: What actions or activities can you do to achieve the vision for your family?
Once you have a goal for your family, how do you plan achieving it? Pastors spend countless hours on programs, events and retreats to strive towards the vision of the church. In the same way, pastors need to create intentional events, activities and family trips on a regular basis to foster the kind of environment and opportunities for growth that you want in your family. Intentional planning and organization needs to be done on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis to ensure that your vision for your family continues to progress.
- What are some activities that your family will start doing this week?What are some monthly events that your family will do?
- When is your next family vacation? (don’t use a piggy back it with a church event)
- What behaviors or words should you do or say more often? What should you do less?
3) PROTECT VISION: What will you do when you stray from the vision?
Leaders know that it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose focus of the vision. Resilient organizations find ways to deal with unexpected problems and strategically plan for potential issues as well as engage in preventative actions to minimize the risk of problems. When things arise that threaten the vision, or when the vision becomes neglected, you may need to initiate family meetings and be ready for tough conversations. You may also want to have people help you check your priorities and actions to prevent your vision becoming neglected in your business. Accountability is also crucial for the pastor to stay the course.
- Do you have a plan when the vision slips?
- What are the potential things that will hinder you from supporting your visions, and what can you do to protect yourself against those things?
- When was your last family meeting?
- Who is keeping you accountable on your family vision?
The most important ministry that God has called to is our family. We need to care for our family members spiritual health and relationships just as much as we care for the church. And the beautiful thing is, as we lead our families effectively and lovingly, we will be more balanced and supported in leading the church. Lets make sure our families are getting our best.