The Priorities of Ministry, Marriage and Family

Perhaps the most common error made by Christian leaders is that of neglecting their marriages and families due to devotion to their ministries. They justify themselves by saying that their sacrifice is “for the Lord’s work.”

This error is remedied when the disciple-making minister realizes that his true obedience and devotion to God is reflected by his relationships with his spouse and children. A minister cannot claim to be devoted to God if he does not love his wife like Christ loves the church, or if he neglects to spend the time necessary with his children to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Moreover, neglecting one’s spouse and children for the sake of “the ministry” is usually a sure sign of fleshly ministry that is being done in the power of one’s own strength. Many institutional pastors who carry heavy work burdens exemplify this, as they exhaust themselves in order to keep all the church programs running.

Jesus promised that His burden is light and His yoke is easy (see Matt. 11:30). He is not calling any minister to show his devotion for the world or the church at the expense of loving his family. In fact, a requirement for an elder is that he “must be one who manages his own household well” (1 Tim. 3:4). His relationship with his family is a test of his fitness for ministry.

Those who are called to traveling ministries and who must be away at times should spend extra time focused on their families when they are home. Fellow-members of the body of Christ should do what is within their power to make such an arrangement possible. The disciple-making minister realizes that his own children are his primary disciples. If he fails at that task, he has no right to attempt to make disciples outside of his home.