People are worshipers. As God's image bearers we are created to be worshippers of something. Many find themselves guilty of worshiping the idols of culture such as money, sex, fame, fortune, and comfort. People lay down their time, health, money, and even their family in the worship of their idols. As a pastor and shepherd of God's church, so often ministry turns into an idol. The grind of teaching, leading, and counseling can quickly become such a priority that Pastors quickly sacrifice everything on the alter of ministry success. It is the hidden sin of many Godly men. In fact, the first thing that is often sacrificed on the alter of ministry is family. Our marriages suffer, our children are neglected and we spend so much time pastoring the church that we forget to pastor our own families. Our relationship with our wives and children must be more important than our work at the church. If our wives and children suffer and if we neglect our own households, we very well might be disqualifying ourselves from pastoral ministry. In Paul's list of the qualifications of overseers in 1 Timothy 3:1-17, he makes it very clear that an overseer must "manage his own household well". The reason for this is qualification is rather simple, and Paul explains why in the text. Paul asks how can a man be expected to lead and shepherd God's church if the man cannot even lead and shepherd his own family? Pastors and ministry leaders, the same rings true for us today. How can we be expected to lead the body of Christ if we are not even leading our own families in the truth of the Gospel. Family must be a priority; the Bible commands it.
However in my experience, some of the worst marriages I see are the marriages of pastors. The irony of course is that these guys are supposed to set an example to the congregation of how to lead and serve their families. Tragically, many pastors set a terrible example for their congregation. There is no emotional connection, friendship, or sexual intimacy with their wife. There are no date nights or time set aside simply to enjoy one another. They haven't won the hearts of their children because they have been at one to many late night meetings. Family worship and devotion are neglected and ignored all in the name of our ministries.
I speak as one who often finds himself guilty of worshiping the idol of ministry. As a young pastor and minister of God's word, I don't want to sacrifice the friendship and intimacy I have with my beautiful wife Kaitlyn on the idol of ministry. I don't want to neglect my future children because ministry consumes every ounce of my time. May I never hear my children say, "The Church stole my Dad".
Pastor, are you neglecting your family? In what ways can you better engage and connect with your wife and your children? What church activities and responsibilities do you need to delegate out for the sake of the health of your own family?
Don't delay in repentance.