Three Ways to Balance Ministry and Family
Having a work-life balance is a struggle, and maintaining balance between your life and the ministry is no different—especially for ministers with children. My children had to be at church every time the door opened because that’s where I was. Looking back, I would have done a few things differently, and so today, I have gathered my own advice and the valuable wisdom of my friends, Pastors Tony and Cynthia Brazelton of Victory Christian Ministries International from a prior conversation about balancing life and the ministry. As Tony said, “I don’t want to win the whole world and all my kids end up in hell.”
- Prioritize Communication.
Tony revealed that when he and his wife prayed at home, they left the door open. They allowed their kids to come in and communicate with them at any time, even if it meant temporarily interrupting their prayers; most of the time, they waited to pray until the children were asleep. Tony and Cynthia discussed with their children why God had to be first.
- Support Their Individual Interests.
Parents should support their children’s interests, especially because they support what you do as a pastor. My son played baseball, and since practices were on Wednesday, I told him he couldn’t play (though, in the end, the coach promised to bring him to Bible study on time if I allowed him to attend). While we would all love our children to be involved in ministry work, if that’s not what they’re called to do, you must be okay with that.
Tony and Cynthia noted how even though only two of their four children are involved in the ministry, every single one of them would drop what they’re doing to help their parents out. This behavior mirrors the support their parents showed them in childhood. “I enjoyed being with my children,” Cynthia said, “supporting what they were called to do and what they liked to do, taking them places, doing things with them and just being there for them. As a result of that, they were very supportive of what we were doing.”
One of the reasons young people are not serving God or are reluctant to serve Him is because their parents were always doing something at the church, for the church. The only thing they know about ministry is that God took their parents from them. Neglecting family for ministry is not the answer.
Your goal is not to win the world and lose your own family. Tony offered a great point. “We didn’t want our children to feel like there was a choice between them and God.” While it can seem overwhelming to balance what our children and the ministry deserve from us, we must remember that God uses His divine power to give us all things.
- Enjoy Them at Every Age.
Cynthia had a great reminder to those who have been called into ministry and have especially young children. “Ministry will always be there.” You should remove “I can’t wait until…” from your vocabulary. “I can’t wait until my babies become toddlers.” “I can’t wait until my children become this.” “I can’t wait until my kids become that.” This mindset prevents you from enjoying your child’s life. It’s not healthy to anticipate a certain stage so much that you don’t even enjoy the stage your child is currently in.
With the demands of ministry, there is a desire for your children to require less and less of you, but it’s dangerous to entertain that idea. Your children hear what you’re saying, and this can stop them from feeling cherished. Tony reminds us that “Part of our success in God is just doing life. This is what life looks like. It includes family, and God wants us to have fun with our family.”
Your children will grow up quickly. Before you know it, they will be in high school and then college, so it’s important to enjoy them at every age and every stage.
As mentioned before, being a parent who is also in the ministry is a unique and important calling. Balancing ministry and family can be an intimidating goal. However, you can promote a healthy balance by prioritizing communication with your children, supporting your children’s individual interests, and enjoying them at every age and stage. To do this successfully requires God, as He intended! You must learn to trust God in the journey and remember that leaning into Him reveals the plan He’s written for your life. Now, there will be trials for both parent and child, but if you rely on God, you’ve given your children an example of how to live a balanced and beautiful life.
Interview edited for length and clarity.