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People in ministry need time for familycomment (0)

June 5, 2003

By Betty Baggott

Pastor, you mean to tell me we are changing the time of the night service again? How do you think that will help things?”

The one posing the question sincerely wanted to discuss the matter.

If this particular pastor had not been at the mall with his wife and three children, the question would have been in order. I happened to overhear the conversation as I walked by. I spoke and kept on going.

Sadly, when I came out of the department store the pastor and wife were still there, a good 20 minutes later. The small children were holding on to their dad’s leg. The wife was shifting around, and still the unthoughtful parishioner kept on talking.

If that was not bad enough when the pastor was able to end the discussion and start walking the man walked alongside them.

Similar incidents happen all too many times in the lives of those in ministry. The ministry is so demanding in terms of schedules that family time should be just that — family time. There are so many wonderful reasons why people go into the ministry and give their life to serving God. Still they are human and need quality time with their families.

A restaurant is a place where families need to be able to eat and not be interrupted. It is one thing to stop at the table and say hello but to linger is quite another story. This may be the one night that this family has had in a long time just to be together and have a good time. Personally I have seen people sit down with a pastor and wife who were out for a much-needed date. As they tried to eat this person would talk.

One pastor related that Saturday morning is the time some members seem to think they can catch him at home. And they can, but this time is so precious for a family. This may be the one day set aside to spend time with the wife and children. Unless there is an emergency many things can wait. Give them the time they need.

One minister remarked, “So far we have never been on a vacation that we did not have to come back for an emergency.” He went on to say, “Some incidents were justified, but others could have been handled by a staff member.” It takes discernment on the part of parishioner and staff to handle such a situation.

The more I talk with the wives of those in ministry the more I am convinced that Satan will play havoc with ministry families if some priorities are not set. But you know, I think that members of a congregation should do their part in seeing that ample time is given for each family on the ministerial staff. There is a time to call, a time to visit, a time to interrupt.

Hats off to the deacon of a large church who said, “We try to hold all our meetings on Sunday night or Wednesday night, not only for our ministerial staff but for all of us. Families are important in our church.”

I know of families who have homes in the mountains, on a lake or at the beach, who encourage ministry families to avail themselves of the use of such a place. Through the years our family was blessed with such generosity on the part of church members.

Thinking back years ago to a seminar I did at Beeson Divinity School for pastors’ wives, I especially enjoyed the opportunity to speak to the young ministers about “What their wives wish they knew about them.” After my talk, one young minister came up and said, “You know, it never occurred to me that my wife might want to do some things that have nothing to do with church. We have been spending too much time with ‘church work.’ I am going to do better.”

Come to think of it, maybe it is not just the congregation that needs to “make time for the family” but those in ministry themselves. Your family is the most precious treasure you have and it takes time to cultivate that quality marriage you need to have.

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