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Balancing Family Life and Ministry

Many a Christians are confronted with the decision to spend more time in the physical presence of the sanctuary or performing service.  Those that are called to serve others are often torn with this dilemma, should I fulfill what is a service or should I serve what is a calling?  God in His infinite wisdom set forth a pattern, in which if we were to follow, we would not be torn internally between the two.  Firstly we must ask ourselves what is the highest priority of service in God’s plan for Christians?  Well if we are to be scripturally sound we must first look at the order of the qualifications of a call to service. Let’s look at first Timothy for a moment. 

1Tim 3:4

One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)   

Here in the context of these scriptures Paul clearly identifies the methodology and understanding as to the order of things.  Firstly, before we can do anything in the house of God we must have our own house in order.  To have things in our own house in order lends one to the requirements of the time we must spend in our own homes and families to ensure we are fulfilling our mandate/obligation to our families.  For those who are of the laity this also speaks of your order/mandate.  "I say that I am just an Usher or I serve in the hospitality ministry".  No mater if you have a formal title in the church or not, you are bound by the conceptual confines of Paul’s instruction.  After God the home comes next.  If you are not practicing sound biblical principles associated with the rearing of your family what business do you have over anything in the house of God?  Anything worth doing is worth doing well.  To give the impression that everything is going well at home and in actuality isn't, is to present or put a false face on the reality of the situation and is indicative of one’s true character.

Let’s discuss motivation for a moment.  What drives one to want to spend so much time in the visual formal outward service of the Lord?  You may ask yourself what I mean by the visual formal outward service.  Well those are the things we do that can be seen and measured by man.  Being in formal services and meetings so that we can be counted on the role.  Say for example you attend church meetings on, Tuesday ,  bible study on Wednesdays , and more than one service on Sunday.  Attending all of these functions could easily amount to 20 plus hours a week when you include drive time and some preparation for the meetings.  Also, you must spend some time during the week in prayer and of studying the word of God to receive instruction from Him.  If you are like me this amounts to on average 15 hours a week.  Now throw in ministering and sharing Christ with others, 4 hours or more a week.  This example amounts to a total of 39 hours a week.  There are 168 total hours  in a seven day week.  This equates to 34% of our waking hours associated with church and ministry activities and 44 % of our time working a regular job which only leaves 25% of a week to rear our families , work on our marriages and hardy any time for leisure activities for oneself. If your assessment of your time comes anywhere close to this example, your life is out of balance.  It will only be a matter of time before a train wreck occurs in the area where you are not spending enough time.  The fallout of the train wreck will negatively impact all other aspects of your life. You may say to yourself that a sacrifice must be made but I would submit to you not to sacrifice your family. 

This service attitude may be taken on to keep in the good graces with those who measure you by the frequency and amount of time you attend service and meetings and the like.  But this is not in line with the word of God.  Look at the following passage.

Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

If you give people permission they will judge you on their standard of Christian service and heap onto you requirements that do not line up with the word of God.  The amount of time spent in the official service or church work, not the work of the church, does not make one more spiritual but the quality of the time does.  If a person where to continually repeat the first grade over and over, being present everyday, present for every meeting, went on every field trip, and never advancing to the second grade, what do you end up with?  An evaluation would lend to a first grader stuck on a merry go round never growing or advancing to the second grade.  How does this help you to become a better Christian?  Well it doesn’t.  That is why after covering the material of the first grade we are promoted to the second and so on.  What are the fruits of all this service?  Are people being led to Christ are lives being changed, do we affect a sin sick world, or do we just go through the motions.  In all that God does there is a plan and a desired output and result.  What is the measured output form all of the activities associated with this time spent in service?  Where is the fruit of your labors?  Getting an emotional boost and a pat on the head or accolades from man is not fruit.
 
If we are continuing to use our outward service to prove our commitment to God and to other people we are missing the mark.  In Genesis 2:24 the word declares that the man and woman leave their mother and father to become one family.  We go on to see that God ensured the stability of the family prior to the establishment of corporate worship and service in the church.  Much time was spent on performing the task of providing for and raising a family along with the developing a personal relationship with God by the family leaders prior to any formalized church meeting or setting.  This is not to say that there is no need for the formalized worship we know that God has ordained the gathering of the assembly as  stated in Hebrews 10:25 , but there must be a balance a and a rational evaluation of the quality of the time spent in these settings.  The motivation must be of seeking God and not man made mandates and traditions or of what people think of you.  Attention to family needs must always be foremost and primary in the order of things if we are to follow God’s example in the bible as to how we are to live our lives.  God , then family,then church is the true order of things and being in the perfect will of God will lend to a spiritual healthy balanced abundant life.