My family just came back from annual family vacation. We spent a few nights with Jen’s extended family at a cottage to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday, and spent the rest of the week with my family in Hamilton and Niagara.
As with most pastors, I find it challenging to take time off from ministry because ministry is a marathon rather than a sprint. There is always more ministry that can be done. But the reason I intentionally take time off from ministry every year for family is to strengthen my resolve to prioritize my family over ministry.
To be clear, priority is not always a function of time. For example, even though people spend far more time at work, for most people, work is not the utmost priority. Even though God is the utmost priority (and should be) for all Christians, they spend far more time talking to people than God. But after waking up, when we could be doing many productive things, if we choose to spend time with God first, we are prioritizing God over anything else regardless of how short that time can be. So, living with right priority is a discipline of intentionally choosing the higher priority when two different priorities demand our attention or presence at the same time.
Some said this is how children spell love: “T-I-M-E”. Unfortunately, we don’t get to give that much “time” for our kids regularly. Jen and I both work full-time. Due to the nature of my job, I am most busy on Saturdays, so we don’t spend that much time as a family during the weekends either. That is why, we try to give our kids “Quality-time” instead in strategic moments, through consistently being present in their “bedtime” and annual family vacation.
I will be eventually replaced by someone in church ministry. But no one can replace me as a husband and a father. When I don’t prioritize my marriage and my family, no one will. Though the time I spend with my family will always be less than the time I spend in ministry, I need to put in effort, so my family is not neglected as an inferior priority. In fact, I believe building a healthy family is one of the primary ways to honor God as our number one priority. Because it is cultivating the soil where ministry fruit can grow sustainably.