Just a little over 10 years ago I started in full-time ministry as a single guy, with no children and all the flexibility in the world to build my work schedule around my commitments and my interests.
Fast forward to today and I’m happily married with three little girls. Now, my schedule and my commitments have a direct impact on the four people who share a home with me. When I’m home, when I’m not home, what nights (and how many nights) I’m out of the house at bedtime, how early I leave in the morning, whether or not I miss dinner, whether or not I’m distracted by my emails/unfinished work on my laptop or phone, whether or not I have the time to unload the dishwasher before I leave for work, and whether or not I actually take time off has ramifications that extend far beyond what I may feel like doing, or what I’m told I “need” to do.
Now I have a choice, I can continue to build my calendar based on what’s good for me, or based on what’s best for my family. And this choice is made in a hundred different ways, through little things that add up.
It’s all well and good for me to get to the church office, or get to rehearsal, or get to a service for which I’m leading worship, but if I prioritize these things over the needs of my family, then something isn’t quite right. The rubber meets the road with a spouse and/or kids at home. If my most valuable commodity really is my time, then how I decide to spend that time will determine what I value.
Yes, there are busy seasons, there are sacrifices you and your family make, and your work commitments will occasionally cause strain within your family.
But in order to value your family as you should, you simply have to protect your time with them, especially at the times that really (and practically) matter.
You have to say no to certain things. You have to guard your evenings and days off as the property of your family and keep people from intruding on that property more than they should. You have to think of little things you can initiate that add up to big things, like lunches or quick coffees with your family in the midst of a busy day. You have to love your families more than you love your job, and you have to realize that the loudest way you can proclaim this love for them is by your presence with them when they need it.
Back in July, my amazing wife, Catherine, shared her perspective as a ministry wife in her post “From a Worship Leader’s Wife.” She shared some good insight for wives about how to support their husbands in ministry, and I was glad to see it bless a lot of different readers.
A few days ago we got a question on that post from a worship leader’s wife who is struggling with the the demands of ministry, especially with a toddler at home. Catherine responded to her in the comment thread, and I’d encourage wives of worship leaders to check it out if they need encouragement.
But this post today is aimed at the men who, like me, have a family at home while we’re doing our worship leader thing. And my main point is this: Prioritize time with your family over time at work. As much as possible, submit your own schedule to the needs of your wife and kids. Be physically present. Be home at bedtime and then rush back to church for evening meetings if you need to. Take Sundays off even if things won’t go as smoothly without you there. Be late to things. Have strong boundaries. Whatever it takes for your particular family and their particular needs. This might mean you’re not in your office as much as some other people around you. But who cares? Worship leaders, love your families.