Folks that have served in ministry for any length of time will tell you how it is often difficult to balance church responsibilities with family life. Even if you are employed part-time with a church, very often your actual responsibilities (and work hours!) will closely resemble that of the full-time staff.
So, as summer comes to a close and we move into the hustle and bustle of the fall season, I thought it might be a good idea for us to spend a few moments reflecting upon ways we can successfully keep our families as our first priorities.
In my own case, I balance a part-time church position with my full-time responsibilities as an editor and composer for Hal Leonard. I am blessed to have a wonderful wife and three beautiful daughters, and I am constantly striving to carve out quality time for them in my schedule. To complicate matters, my wife is a media specialist in our local school district, and she maintains a busy schedule of her own.
Though I am tempted to say that I balance everything successfully, the truth is that, more often than not, I fail. So, what follows are some reminders for everyone, including me.
1) Carve time out of your schedule for your family each week. Preferably, do this in advance so that you can mark it in your calendar. And then (here comes the hard part!), stick with it. Treat that time as sacred, and do not let any work obligations interfere with it.
I have one colleague that not only schedules time with his entire family, but also plans time with each of his two children individually every week. This time with his children is not fancy or elaborate. Sometimes, it is as simple as a trip to a local fast-food restaurant, or, for his teenager, a quick trip to the coffee shop.
As a side-note to this, it is also beneficial to engage in activities that the entire family can enjoy. My children love to explore the outdoors, so our family spends a fair amount of time visiting nature centers and state parks. My two oldest daughters are beginning to develop an interest in running, and I am thrilled when they sometimes ask if they can go on a jog with the “old man.”
Be especially sure to schedule time with your wife or husband. Many couples are familiar with the idea of weekly “date nights.” If possible, find a baby-sitter for the kiddos so that you can have uninterrupted time with your spouse. As important as it is for you to be with the entire family, it is equally important to always cherish, protect, and nurture the relationship you have with the person you share your life with.
2) Work up the courage to remove things from your schedule that are just not that important. Realize that we are called to be part of the body of Christ, but not the ENTIRE body. In church work, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing you must be engaged in every facet of ministry (and serving on every committee), and this is simply not true.
If you are blessed to have folks in your music department that are willing to help you, be humble and accept the help! I have a wonderful couple in my choir who, for many months, offered to help me organize the choir room and shelve music (two very time-consuming activities for just one person to handle). Time and again, I would politely turn down their offer and insist that I could get everything accomplished on my own. After several weeks of music piling up on my desk, and the choir room slowly turning to shambles, I finally had to admit to myself that I really could use some help!
3) Finally, when you are home with your spouse and children, really “be” with them. Be present. Make the time you have with them count, even if that time is just for a few moments. This is the biggest stumbling block I face in balancing my work life with my family life. When I am no longer actively involved in leading some sort of ministry or rehearsal, or when I am no longer at my desk editing or writing, my mind cannot seem to “turn off.” My family can sense this, and even though I am with them, it is not good, quality time.
I certainly hope that you have a blessed fall season, and I hope that you are able to balance your ministerial responsibilities with your family life. Always remember that, if you are blessed with a family, you are more than just a pastor, a worship leader, a choir director, or a committee member, you are also a husband or a wife, and a “mom” or a “dad.”
Series: Harold Flammer WorshipSongs Jr
Publisher: Shawnee Press
Composer: Joseph M. Martin
Arranger: Brad Nix
Uses: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Baptism, Confirmation, General