The secret to balancing family and ministry

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Fishing

My dad and I recently went on our annual “Mahi massacre” fishing trip. For many years we have set sail excited about quality father/son time, the thrill of the sport, and some really good eats. But it’s also a chance for us to get out on the open waters. We can breathe deeply and think, talk, process, and pray through life, ministry, and leadership issues with a handful of other key influencers—an “iron sharpening iron” experience.

We anticipated some heavy questions and deep conversations, but the question of the day surprised us!

Every guy on the boat had given up time with their families and space from their ministries to be there with us. And once the see breezes, frothy waves and blinding sun took effect, the deep, burning question buoyed to the surface. They all wanted to know:

“What’s your secret? How do you do it? How do you serve God and have a family too?”

Can you serve God AND have a family too? Click to Tweet

Between my dad and me, we book a lot of airline miles and spend countless hours on the road. So these guys who are constantly asked to travel and teach, speak, write, mentor, disciple and encourage desperately wanted to know how to remain faithful to their calling and do family well.

I had one word for them: intentionality.

In today’s society, children have a hard time grasping what their parents do. It used to be that in our agrarian society, outputs were obvious, “we farm and our family grows corn.” Post-Industrial revolution, kids weren’t involved, but understood that “my mom sews dresses” or “my dad’s factory makes hammers.”[1]

But today, many of us labor in fields that produce no tangible outputs that our children can readily identify with. This poses a challenge to our kids to firmly grasp their place in the world and their purpose in life. We must be intentional about explaining our work and setting the context to instill in our children a clear understanding of their spiritual heritage.

We must be intentional to instill a clear understanding of their spiritual heritage in our children Click to Tweet

Growing up as a missionary kid, I traveled with my parents, saw and participated in their ministry firsthand. I understood my spiritual history and heritage, which shed light on my spiritual destiny and global mission.

HOS06 RWA0153Long before Kim and I had kids, we talked about what it would look like to pursue my global mission while intentionally raising our children and being a family. From the get-go, we knew I would travel and she would stay home, but that when I left, my love did not go out the door with me. My greatest supporter, she and I worked together to be intentional in how we communicated our family’s spiritual heritage and instill a strong sense of destiny in our girls. Kim was always positive about the part she and the girls faithfully played to help fulfill our family’s calling as I traveled the globe. She worked hard in our home to instill God’s unchanging truth into our girls’ hearts and minds.[2]

When they were old enough, our girls began to travel with me, getting to explore their spiritual heritage in light of their calling and destiny.

This is part of what I shared with the guys who were wrestling as hard with this life question as they did with the massive fish they reeled into the boat. What being intentional looked like for me will look totally different for each of them—their intention toward their family will be as unique as their personalities and situations. So my specific encouragement to them to “be intentional” is actually quite nebulous.

The key to intentionality is taking the time to step back, figure out what being intentional in your life and family looks like, and then do it. Rigorously.

At the end of a day, no matter how hard, as a leader, husband, father and friend I’ve never regretted showing too much love.

At the end of the day, you'll never regret showing too much love Click to Tweet

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[1] From Harvard psychologist Robert Coles’ contention that historically children had an immediate grasp of their place in the world and their purpose in life because they understood the output of their parents. (The Moral Intelligence of Children and The Spiritual Life of Children)
[2] From my book, Hope Delivered, pp 9-10.