Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ed Stetzer on making family the priority

How do you balance family life with work, hobbies, personal passions? Do you feel like you are living a good balance? Feel a little wobbly? As an "entrepreneur" in ministry, my time constantly has dozens of demands on every moment. Solid friends and mentors help me to remember what's important and share good ideas with me about how to actually live those priorities. It ain't easy, but it's worth it.

Here's a guy I follow, Ed Stetzer, on trying to keep life and ministry balanced. Read through his thoughts and see if you find them as refreshing, challenging, and balanced as I did.  Here are some highlights:

First, with Donna there is a brief list of how I prioritize my relationship with Donna:

  • My wife is second only to Jesus in my life
  • My wife and I talk and pray about how to balance ministry and life. I give her veto power over all ministry related issues. If she is higher priority than ministry, she much have veto power of it. If she is more important than ministry, she has priority over it.
  • My wife can change our ministry focus if she wants. We have agreed that, at any point, if she thinks what I do hurts our marriage she can ask me to leave pastoral ministry and I will. If she is more important than ministry, she has priority over it.
  • My wife approves individual activities. That's right. If my wife wants me to not be an interim; I stop. Or take an event. Or write a book. Or whatever. She keeps me balanced and need her to do that. If she is more important than ministry, she has priority over it.
  • I plan my schedule to be home with my family. I am surprised to see that not everyone appreciates that. But, if there is a three day event and they want me to speak each morning, I ask to speak three times in one day.

Second, I work hard to make my family a priority in my life.

  • I don't have any hobbies. I used to, but not with a ministry and three small children. A friend of mine once told me that you can't be a church planter and a good golfer-- you don't have time for both. At least for me, I can't be a good husband / father, do what God has called me to do, and play golf, or fish or religiously watch football. But there is one exception - and this is important - if the kids want to do it, it is our hobby and another opportunity for investment.
  • Every week, Donna and I do a date night. People complain they don't have time. Neither do I. No one has free time just lying around. You aren't going to find time, you have to make it. if it's important enough you will make the time.
  • When I am at work, I work to get things done so I don't have to work at home. People ask me, "why are you always doing your email and writing on the road, why don't you just relax?" The answer is simple, I don't want to relax in San Diego, I want to relax in Nashville. So, I get the work done on the road and when I am home, I am home.
  • Every Saturday, mom stays home and my kids and I go out for breakfast, usually at Cracker Barrel, or as you can see if you follow me on Twitter, "the garage sale with food."
  • I try to take the kids with me on trips as often as possible. They love coming along. And when I am speaking for one hour in Denver, it is a good day of fun for one of my daughters.

1 comment:

James Wood said...

This is good stuff. I think that he has taken a belief that most of us have: family before ministry, and really given it some concrete paramaters. Think of how loved his wife must feel to know that she can veto anything that he does!

I also like the point about getting work done at work and leaving the free time for home.

On another note, I think that hobbies can be good in moderation. Hobbies give us a chance to connect with people over shared interests, if we completely cut out hobbies we will lose a valuable link to the world which God made us to enjoy.