As a young pastor in ministry starting out in Southern California in 2002, I faced a tough reality. That reality revolved around the fact that to be in ministry is to be busy. Expectations of pastors are sometimes unrealistic and the busyness that can be associated with this can lead to a lack of time to invest in younger leaders looking for spaces to grow and learn. While my experience may or may not be rare, I know that I am not alone with many colleagues. This reality led me to make a commitment as a young leader, “I won’t sacrifice my family on the altar of successful ministry.” I guess I would even say that to lose any member of my family for a perceived success in ministry isn’t success at all.
While these words have resonated in my heart, I found it to be much easier when I was in different associate roles in the church. The true test of this would come someday when I became a Lead Pastor and had to make a decision about ministry to family and ministry to the church community when a scheduling conflict would arise. Would my actions really support my words?
This summer happens to be the year my son was going to have a chance to make a run at the Little League World Series. Most 12-year old’s who have an interest in baseball know about this event that takes places on TV in August of every year. The road to get there is tough, but these 12-year old’s cling to this possibility.
Last week, my words were put to the test. Our monthly church board meeting takes place on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. My son’s All-Star team found themselves in a crucial game to determine who goes to the Championship game. I had Board Meeting on that Tuesday. Do I cancel it? Do I go ahead and find a reason to explain to my son why this meeting is important and catch the end of the game? Wrestling in my thoughts, I remembered my commitment as a 24-year old to my future family. After all, would this board remember that I canceled a board meeting in 10 years? Would my son remember if I wasn’t at this crucial game?
I sent a text to my board secretary and explained the scenario and asked if he was okay if I canceled the meeting. His life-giving words were, “Not a problem at all. I would want to be there with my boy as well. I don’t think people will mind.” The communication that came from other board members was nothing but support to my being a dad first.
Honestly I can’t tell you how much that meant to me as a leader of a church. It was a true gift to not just me, but to my family. I have colleagues where this would have been problematic for their leadership and sense of commitment, but I say, our families deserve our presence and when you can find the support of leadership for your family first as you lead a church community, go there.
I may only pastor a small church community in Gig Harbor, WA, but anytime a leadership of a church community can support their pastor in some way like this, the church community is a healthier place.
I am proud to pastor this great church community. I am proud our family is called to serve here. Thank you Gig Harbor Nazarene for loving us. Thank you for supporting a deep conviction of mine and showing where priorities should be.
You are loved.