Ministry is a difficult life. It is not just a job; it is not just a lifestyle; it is not something you can just put down or count as unimportant when it isn’t convenient.
At the same time, there are moments in the minister’s life when he must walk away. Sometimes you walk away permanently, but most of the time it is just a walk away. You step back to get some perspective or you go on a journey to get some distance. You might need to walk somewhere else, because the path you are on is too cluttered or too confused.
If you find you spend more time thinking about your church than you do your wife, you need to take a walk (preferably, holding her hand.)
If your church is more important than your kids, it is time to step away.
If ministry leaves you so weak that sin creeps in, you need to take walk.
If you feel overwhelmed more often than you feel led by God, step away.
One of our elders was listening to me explain something or show them something that we were doing and he commented to me, “you’re like a kid.”
What he meant was that I get excited about things, I tend toward an overflowing exuberance about what God is doing. When what we have seen that God can do becomes a reality, that is one of the greatest experiences in life for me. Nothing feeds my soul like seeing God’s vision become our reality.
Except, when I wake up in the morning and I get to take care of my family. When I have the time and the opportunity to make my wife’s lunch for her before she heads to work, when my daughter greets me with a hug and a smile after she wakes up, when I can spend a quiet evening just in their presence –that feeds my soul and I know the world is right, the church and home are in balance.
Getting to that balance, knowing when and where and how to know and experience the things that ministry has for me takes a lot of introspection. It takes a lot of walking away and thinking deeply, praying fervently and learning to discipline my life and my mind.
If there is one piece of advice that I can give to pastors both young and old it is this: never sacrificed home for church. Never make the church the mistress of your affections and your joy.