Pastor’s families live in semi-isolation because congregations hold them on a pedestal. However, a larger problem is isolation of the pastor from their family.
This is because our jobs are never ending, and we get so busy we forget our personal priorities. Many pastors leave ministry because of root problem of loneliness in their own families.
As the pastor or leader of a church, you need to make sure that you spend enough time with your wife and kids. If you don’t, your family will feel left out and separate from you. Your children may resent you. You may find yourself in a divorce. Understand that your ministry can threaten your family dynamic.
But how do you rectify the problem?
Early in our ministry we blocked time in our calendars for family. One of the boundaries was set around the kids favorite TV shows on Tuesday nights. During those times we isolated ourselves from the church which so often isolated me from my family.
Involving Your Childen
The best solution other than reducing your time away from your family is to include them in your ministry. If they partner with you it reduces isolation. Table-talk over dinner is no longer about your ministry but their ministry.
We involved our children in a microchurch inside our congregation at a very early age. Often their contribution to the discussion was as simple as “Carl, what do you think about what Uncle Aaron just said?” They grew up in this extended family. Several members of that microchurch moved to Hawaii with us. Uncle John and Uncle Terry were my son’s first employers. Better than that, the relationships built in that microchurch continue to this day.
Partnering In the Ministry
When we planted the church in Hawaii the entire family joined the project. My wife, Ruby, became sort of famous as the wife of a megachurch pastor still teaching in children’s church. From the outset our children got involved. At age 12 Carl and his buddy were our ushers during those first few weeks. That morphed into Carl as the head usher half a year late. There were 30 year-olds coming to him for instruction. Our daughter, Kelly, served as a diligent children’s church helper at age 11. The end result reflects the wisdom of involving familes in ministry. Kelly and her husband, Travis, serve a refugee center in Istanbul while maintaining their jobs throuth the internet. Carl led huge youth groups and succeeded me as the pastor of Hope Chapel in Kaneohe (Anchor Church today).
Don’t Build a Dynasty
When involving your family avoid turning the church into a family business or molding it into a mom-and-pop store. I worry about churches large and small where a husband and wife duo lead together. This works for highly gifted people but the model can reduce a smaller church to a being led by a two person dynasty. It’s not healthy for the entire family and can become a growth restricting obstacle as people will tend to leave decision making to the power couple.
Finally avoid nepotism. No person should be promoted because they are family. Our family were never promoted or given jobs because of their last name. Both children proved themselves as young adults in ministry while living away from home. Carl did return to Hawaii but only after partnering with a friend to plant two churches in California and helping rescue a third.
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