To paraphrase a book title from Robert A. Heinlein, “The ministry is a harsh mistress.”94 Christians within the church can be quite harsh in their expectations, as we have already seen. One particular area that will often see their strongest reactions is with the minister’s family, or with the minister’s priorities, if they happen to lean towards their family. In the time honored traditions of the church, when it comes to where the minister’s own family should land on a ministerial priority list, the preferred placement would locate the minister’s family definitely below the needs of the church. In other words, it was proper and expected—and still so, I believe—that the first persons that the minister encountered in the morning would be the last he would see in the evening. Chances were very good that the minister had not encountered his family at all during the course of the day, either. Finally, the minister was expected to work seven days a week, although lip service was given to the idea of needing one day off a week, ostensibly to be spent with one’s family. This is usually Saturday, the day to work on the sermon, or the lesson plan for the senior high class, etc.
THE LAST SHALL
It just shouldn’t be that way. I believe that this kind of prioritization, with the needs of the church coming before the needs of the minister’s family, was not only a colossal mistake, but a sin. It smacks of noble, even messianic, zeal in the service of God—and maybe is a little understandable when a youth minister is single and singularly unattached—but it is really idiotic when a youth minister has a family. One overcomer of this way of thinking, confesses that working long, arduous hours…
was all right when I was a premed major in college, single and twenty years old. And it got me through graduate school, medical school, and a residency in psychiatry in the decade that followed. But at the age of thirty, I found myself teaching counseling courses full-time… [and] I also found myself carrying on a part-time psychiatric practice… taking theological courses myself, counseling people evenings in my home, and participating in seminars nearly every weekend. By that time I had three children under the age of four. I remember feeling overwhelmed at times with the false notion that God wanted me to “rescue the world for Christ.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish