Balancing Ministry And Family (Part 1:Children)

My dad was a pastor and church planter while I was growing up.  He would often work a regular job, pastor a small church, and do a bible study and some ground work in a community or ranch (sometimes up to 60 miles away) that would lead to a church plant.  Needless to say he was busy.  (Oh, and I forgot to mention there were four of us kids, all begging for his attention.) Yet, unlike several PK’s (pastor’s kids) I knew my dad always had time for me.  I never felt like I was in competition with the church or the ministry for his time.

Perhaps this was because my Dad was incredibly gifted in balancing his time.  I still remember the fishing trips to a bend in the river 15 miles outside of town, the fossil hunting expeditions, catching snakes, looking for arrowheads, discovering a dinosaur bone, and pestering him while he worked on the car that always seemed to stay broken.  My favorite memories though are the weekly trips we would take out to a Bible study he was leading.  I was blessed to have a 45 minute ride each way with my dad.  All along the way there we would talk about life.  All the way back we would listen to radio preachers like John MacArthur, Charles Stanley, and Chuck Swindoll.

So then fast forward several years and now I’m an Associate Pastor of Students, taking graduate classes, and have my own little girl looking at both the ministry and my daughter thinking (with all of my other responsabilaties) that there isn’t enough time in the day.  How did my dad ever do it?  Then I realize that he didn’t view his time with me and ministry as in competition, but as a complimentary.  Sure we took special trips to hunt for arrowheads or go fishing (Quality time) but along the way he was sure to get plenty of time (quantity time) with me along the way through taking me along on some of his ministry outings.

So I stole a page from my dad’s playbook when it comes to stretching the hours in a day.  I take my little girl to the sporting events that our students are playing in.  Last week we went to three different games.  She got to watch a basketball game, a race, and a football game all in one week.  With my wife being a stay at home mom and pregnant with baby number 2, this works out well to give her a little personal mom time while Rebekah and I hang out and cheer our students on.

We also schedule consistent father daughter hangout time.  Right now because of her age its usually pancakes at McDonald’s every Friday morning.  She usually hangs out with me after I run in the evenings and I tell her everything I did that day (which has evolved into her telling me about her day… very strange for a 3 year old).  Sometimes I’ll walk instead of run so she can “run” with me around our neighborhood.

How do you ensure that you are spending quality time with your children when you are busy?

Where has the Time Gone?

When I was little photos of objects used to imagine all the free time I would have when I was a grown up and didn’t have homework.  I dreamed of all the places I would go, movies I would watch and fun I would have with all my extra free time.  I thought life would be easier as an adult.  Then came college and I quickly found my self busier than ever and I couldn’t wait to graduate.  Then I graduated and was a full-time student minister at a small church and I couldn’t wait to get married.  Then I got married and couldn’t wait to have kids.  Now I have a kid and one on the way and I remember the days of high school and college when I thought my life was busy. Now school, a half-dozen clubs, a few sports programs and a part-time job look like easy street and I wonder what I did with all my spare time.

I guess I have always had the same 24-hours in a day that every one else has had, it’s just that my responsibilities have multiplied.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  I have a beautiful wife that I love more than words can express.  I love my daughter and love to teach and train her in life.  I enjoy my job (well its really a calling to shepherd students and families).  And I really don’t have a desire to go back to high school or college.  I just remember when life was simpler and my priorities seldom ever came into competition with one another.

You see, it’s not really time that I am worried about.  It is the priories and responsibilities that compete for my time.  I don’t want to drop the ball as a husband, father, or pastor.  Really dropping the ball in any one of these areas can have a damaging effect on the others.  I guess the key is balance in spending the right time in the right area’s of my life so that I know I have given my best to God, my wife, my children and those I am given charge over.

These next few days I will be blogging on time, responsibility, and balance from a my perspective.  I will share some of the tips, insights, struggles and resources I have discovered along the way.  I realize life is a journey and I haven’t arrived yet.  Feel free to comment and share how you use the time, care for your responsibilities, balance your life or resources that you have found helpful.  I look forward to learning as well as sharing.