If you serve in the ministry, people are watching you and your family. If you don’t want to be watched, then ministry is not the place to be. That said, we are commanded to be ensamples (or examples—a pattern to follow) to the flock (1 Peter 5:3.) As spiritual leaders we’re supposed to be saying, “Hey, follow me—let’s do this God’s way!”
Some people neglect their family in favor of ministry. Ministry needs are never-ending and incalculable, and some falsely presume that such neglect in favor of ministry service is actually spiritual or somehow honoring to God. This is both unbiblical and dishonoring to God. Neglecting family, even for good things, is never spiritual—it’s idolatry.
Your family is your primary ministry. And God has given you and me enough time to do everything He has given us—both in family and in ministry. We are without excuse if we fail on either side of the equation.
But there’s a subtle, often unconsidered danger to the “neglect family for ministry” syndrome.
Busyness makes me feel validated, important, and significant. So being busy is often a “juice” to the ego on a number of levels. But on the flip side, nobody feels more significant because they spent more time with their spouse or kids. It’s not an “ego boost” to speak publicly of taking a day off or a vacation (although it is a good example!) And God forbid, someone might even think you’re lazy! So it’s easy to, even unintentionally, uplift our extremes, and down-play the balance. One seems more “spiritual” and the other seems more “selfish.” But in actuality, the opposite is true.
Truly investing into family is deeply spiritual and God honoring—and never selfish.
Living “too busy” may feel more fulfilling in my search for significance, but it does something else quite harmful. Because I’m a living example, my schedule becomes my example to others. While people might appreciate my busyness, they may also emulate it. If I neglect my family, they will think that’s what God expects—that’s what pleases Him. If I neglect my marriage, they may do the same.
In the end, my example weakens both my family and the families that are watching me. If I live the over-extended life, I’m leading others to do the same. And that’s one thing I do not want to give an account for at the judgment seat of Christ.
In short, living a balanced life may not feed your ego, and it may not win the admiration of others, but it will set a solidly biblical example that honors God and encourages others to have healthy relationships.
For this cause, I challenge you to publish a different example—a balanced one! Talk about working hard, for we should. Talk about living sacrificially, for we should. But also talk about balance. Talk about taking time off. Talk about resting. Talk about nurturing your family with time and attention. Talk about taking a vacation. And don’t just talk about these things—do them, in balance, in your own home. Make a balanced life your living example.
The results are staggering! First, your own health and sanity will be preserved. Second, your marriage will be strong, healthy, and enjoyable. Your spouse will be filled—needs met, heart content. Third, your kids will thrive in the context of your presence, and parenting will be enjoyable, memorable, fun, and cherished as opposed to frustrated and fragmented. Fourth, those to whom you set an example will see a biblical standard and begin to follow your example. Those you lead will experience all of these benefits as well! And most importantly—God will be glorified and honored. We already know, He honors them that honor Him!
So the significant question with your schedule and life balance is this: What would you want other families to emulate? Your schedule is your example. The way you live will inevitably become the way others live by reason of your example. That’s simple spiritual leadership.
God bless you as you hold forth a biblical example of life balance in every area. And the next time you have a tough choice in regards to personal schedule—stop and ask the Holy Spirit this question: Which would be the best example for others to follow?