Family- We all started this life with family and will most likely end this life surrounded by family. In fact, I am convinced that of all the relationships that are possible on this earth, family is the most important.
I have also noticed through my years of ministry that when a pastor’s family is a healthy family, often the church is full of young couples looking to pattern their families likewise. But when there is tension and conflict in the pastor’s home, there is often tension and conflict within the church!
Even in the best of circumstances marriage can be difficult. Add to that the stresses of ministry when there just doesn’t seem enough hours in the day to accomplish everything needed for the Church. It then often ends up that the pastor’s family gets the short end of things by being the recipients of ministerial stress rather than blessing. A pastor with the need for approval or success in ministry can easily become preoccupied with the church and exclude time with their family.
Dr. John Gottman created a “Love Lab” at the University of Washington where he studied couples and the way they communicate. He devised a 91% successful way of predicting divorce- which he observed with only a five minute observation- and most of that prediction had to do with conversation. Words spoken in criticism, defensiveness, and contempt are the culprits. He also listed “stonewalling” (when one or both partners shut down and refuse to participate further in the conversation).
My prayer is this: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (especially toward my family). Amen! (Psalm 19:14)
Here’s a question: If any member of your family was asked, would they say that members of the Church are more important to you than they are?