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Facing the Ministry Conundrum

Yesterday was anything but normal.

My wife had day surgery (she’s doing fine) and because of this and other things, I was running all over town with a thousand different things to do. I had extra responsibilities, but I honestly felt the grace to handle it and never felt overwhelmed. I didn’t start to feel the winding down until dinner time. That’s when I found myself with a choice.

My daughter, Alicia, had received a cupcake maker (mix between a waffle iron and a muffin tin) as one of the presents at her birthday party. She had been asking and asking. She desperately wanted to use it and this particular morning as we were trying to hurry out the door, I did the logical thing that so many of us parents do. I told her that maybe we could maybe make cupcakes after dinner tonight. It always amazes me how when statements I have made are repeated back to me by my kids, the word, maybe, never shows up.

Of course, I didn’t know all the ‘stuff’ that would be crammed into one day. After dinner came and I was reminded (several times) about what I had said. I knew my energy was drained and I had to make a choice. Either I would write a devotional post for today or make the cupcakes. I didn’t have enough for both.

The truth is, I love writing and the interaction with everyone who reads. I genuinely see it as a ministry to the Lord and others. I want to encourage and bless. It was for that reason I almost told her I was too tired and that we could do it tomorrow.

That’s when that still, small voice –you know the one–He whispered to my heart that I have a ministry to my family as well. Whatever else may come and go, but I have a responsibility to love and demonstrate love with action. This family ministry will be a ministry for the rest of my life.

Turned out the jam I found myself in wasn’t so much of a jam after all. God certainly has a way of clearing things up (when I listen). As much as I love expounding on scripture and finding illustrations to help promote eternal truth, my daughter and family also needs a consistent, living example of the heart of the Father. I wish I could say I listen every time, but I miss plenty of opportunities. Even so, I want to be more and more sensitive to their needs and the leading of the Spirit.

There are times when compromises will be made or plans changed for various reasons, but last night, I knew He was leading me in this gift of time and presence.

I do think they appreciated it and even more, I believe my Father was pleased that I chose to represent Him well.


Do you ever feel the pull between ministry in any form and what God has called you to at home? What helps you make the right decision in the moment?

22 Comments

  1. It seems that we can easily neglect all sorts of things in the pure motives of us trying to do what God has called us to. Luckily He does nudge us from time to time to remind us to be what we’re called to be to each other; to not miss those little opportunities to minister to one another with something as simple as our time or conversation.
    Philip recently posted..Defining MomentMy Profile

    • It’s funny how quickly we can buy into that subtle lie that only the “grand gestures” mean much. Consistently loving and being there in the day to day ministers life in a thousand different ways. Thanks so much, Philip.

  2. I appreciate how you shared the conundrum. There’s so many good things that vie for our time, but they do not supersede our God given responsibility to our family.

    I constantly have to remind myself of His priorities for me: God, Wife, Child, Others… then me.

    I don’t always succeed in maintaining the right order to the list, and if I go to long incorrectly ordered, God is good to help me re-align.
    Dusty Rayburn recently posted..Peace! Be strong now!My Profile

    • I can get it wrong so many times, but I am thankful when I listen and get it right. I do believe too that as we respond to these gentle leadings, we can become more and more consistent. Thank you, Dusty.

  3. I’ve been seeking God lately on time management. He is showing me I mustn’t confuse “good” things with “God” things.

    • Sometimes I feel like my life is an exercise in time management. :) I think what you’re saying is why relationship with Him is so important. A “good” thing one day may need to be let go for a “God” thing, but on another day, the thing you let go of may be the “God” thing. Does that make sense? I believe God makes it like that so we can stay dependent and close to Him. Best way to live! Thanks TC.

      • Makes perfect sense to me! This is definitely my life/walk with Christ. Daily asking Him for direction, not assuming I know what He wants.
        Praying I get better at listening (wink)!

        Praying your wife is recovering nicely!

        God bless you and your family.

        • Thanks so much, TC. :)

  4. Now that my girls are gone the pressure is not as great. When they were here I made every attempt to be at their games, plays, concerts, etc. I believe I can say, unless I was out of town, that I never missed one. It has come back to me in spades. Never regret ministry to your family over a blog, a church, or anything else. Wise choice Jason.
    bill (cycleguy) recently posted..AudacityMy Profile

    • Thanks Bill. I appreciate the encouragement!

  5. Good for you! What a beautiful picture of how we’re all supposed to act. I need to work on my balance Jason, thanks for the encouragement…

    • Honestly, I really miss it a lot, but I just saw it so clearly this time. As for balance, I don’t think I’m qualified to work on that. Jesus wasn’t balanced in any stretch of the imagination, but He was whole, filled with joy and love and power. I truly believe the bottom line is listening and following His heart. Thanks so much, Floyd!

  6. You’re an awesome husband and father!
    I think that the ministry to our family always comes first. Ministry outside the home, unless you’re Trey Morgan : ), can actucally wait, and is something that can’t be rushed because it’s God that brings the ministry to you.
    Ed recently posted..Great StoryMy Profile

    • Man, I really do see how blessed I am with the family and love I get to experience. I think, “how could I think any other way?” then of course, other pressures come in and fight for dominance, but I’m thankful for that still, small voice! He leads perfectly. Thanks Ed!

  7. Hi Jason,
    I hope your wife is on the mend and the surgery went well. I will pray for quick recovery.

    God teaches us to put Him first in our lives and then put our families next. I don’t believe there is anything mentioned about satisfying self and needs for Jesus tells us that God will provide all we need if we only ask. From this post I see that He has provided both to you, a happy daughter with a muffin in her hand and a wonderful post on the experience of your day and hopefully you had a good nights rest and are refreshed for today.

    Our ministry starts first with God and loving Jesus, building our relationship with Him. When we focus on this then everything else falls into place with putting our families needs above and beyond our needs or the needs of our work. I am forever telling my children to put God first, then family, then church family, then school work and then friends. If they can’t minister God’s love to their family then are being a hypocrite if they show it to their church family or friends. Our ministry starts at home, where it is the hardest. :)

    I really enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing.

    Blessings
    Child of God recently posted..Master CommanderMy Profile

    • I agree! If we give our best to everyone else and leave our family with the crumbs, we aren’t displaying the heart of God effectively. And yes, I am extremely blessed and thankful! I so appreciate your thoughts here.

  8. Mmmm…cupcakes…a post about God and Food…is always good in my book!

    I know what it feels like to choose between ministry and family…
    When i used to lead worship at our young adults bible study…
    we would practice once a week and my family would want me to do something with them on that day…

    it was tough…

    but i always tried to do things with them on the days i wasn’t rehersing…
    giving my wife the days we could go out or do whatever.
    arny recently posted..LOST in Analogies: “I have no Purpose!”My Profile

    • And what you describe is my point, Arny. Sometimes we do the recognized “ministry” thing because we make commitments and we’re following God. Other times, He opens doors for us to have opportunities for different ministry. We can certainly plan effectively to accommodate. Yesterday was just crazy and God showed me the right decision in that moment (if that makes sense). Great thoughts you shared--we need that reminder.

  9. I was an elder at a church (other than the one I serve at now) and we were stuck in a meeting frenzy. One night I was heading out the door to go to (you guessed it) yet another meeting, when my son Dan said: “Dad, you’re always going to meetings” I stopped, called up my Pastor and told him we needed to talk..the NEXT time we saw each other. I didn’t make that meeting and it did hasten me being shown the back door…but man, it was worth it. Even if I didn’t get any cupcakes from it!

    Great challenge to remember bro’!
    Jay Cookingham recently posted..Bad Sheep – Hero Worship 1My Profile

    • Lord, help us for getting it all wrong as leaders sometimes. I try to be very conscious of those needs, in giving myself to family and others--or what I expect from others in that area. Sounds like the back door was exactly where you needed to go on that one. Thanks so much, Jay.

  10. Jason,

    I don’t have this type of conflicting schedule in my life these days. But yes, have experienced this pull when our family was younger and we were in full time ministry. Unfortunately, we did not pass the test and chose incorrectly on more than one occasion. It’s a difficult decision sometimes. God, God things, church and that thing called home, our most precious jewel here on this earth.

    I remember a very wise lady telling me as I was faced with such a pull years ago. I actually had a list of things I felt I HAD to do. She asked me to look at the list and I did. She looked at me and said, things and people…things will ALWAYS be around for us to tend to, ALWAYS put your family first at the top of yoour list. Things can wait. Your family will be blessed by this time you will spend with them. You’re sowing time and love and attention that will be reciprocated later on. Even today, if faced with a people thing or a thing thing, I choose the people.

    Good post.

    • That’s a great reminder, Sherry. God desires compassion over sacrifice. People and things are not equal. Of course, there are too many leaders who see and use people as things--that’s no good! Thanks so much, Sherry.