Growing up as a pastor’s kid I remember what it feels like to think that the church is more important to your dad than you are. If there was a Bible study going on, a meeting, someone in the hospital, or a phone call, it came first.
I remember the parents of my wrestling teammates all showing up for every match, even if it was two hours away. One teammate asked me, “Hey, where are your parents? Do they come to our matches?” I remember the embarrassment I felt as a Christian telling him, “Yeah, they come when they can, but tonight he’s leading a Bible study at church,” as if that was more significant than engaging with the other parents who seemed to bond together throughout the season. Sometimes that embarrassment turned into resentment toward church.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents both invested a ton of time into me and my siblings. My dad read to us every day, taught us more about the Bible than I probably retained throughout Bible college and seminary, took us on camping trips, bike rides, and a lot more. The time investment was definitely there, but for some reason some things like the wrestling matches were important to me enough to overshadow everything else, especially when he mostly used the time in the bleachers to memorize Sunday’s sermon. Other parents were cheering me on more than he was.
During my senior year of high school I remember sitting in my room crying. I sent him an email explaining what I was feeling, the embarrassment that none of the other wrestling parents knew them, and how it seemed like church stuff was more important than attending my matches. Thankfully, things changed immediately. He got someone else to lead the Bible studies and made it a priority to be at every possible match, without sermon in hand. He also did the same for my brothers’ volleyball and basketball games from that point forward.
Now I’m serving in a similar capacity. My kids aren’t in high school… yet. But I’m still thinking about this now because I’d rather not receive that email from my daughter when she’s a senior. What am I doing right now to ensure that my kids and my wife know that they are more important to me than my ministry? Will my wife and kids grow to resent the church?
I’m feeling convicted that I’ve been giving my family my “left-over” time lately. All my prime, alert and energized time is spent on ministry stuff. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that during certain seasons of ministry, but how much of my “left-overs” should I be giving them and for how long?
Last week Dana and Zeke were out for an evening, so I spent the entire time playing at home with Hannah. We had a blast! There’s absolutely nothing that substitutes the sound of her giggling as we roll around, her stillness as we read books, and her voluntary kisses. The last thing I want is for her to grow up feeling that she gets the left-overs of my time and that ministry is more important than she is. I’m sure that won’t always be within my control, but lately I’m heading in the wrong direction. It’s time to change that.
Posted on November 23, 2010