Family First

March 18, 2013

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We all hear pastors and ministers exclaim that family comes before ministry. Business owners and lawyers will proclaim their commitment to life at home over work.

It is one thing to say it, it’s another thing to do it.

The pressure to perform at our jobs is immense. Society does promotes family values in words, but criticizes when the value is actually applied. President Obama of the United States does not engage in many activities in the evening so he can spend time with his daughters. Because of this, critics label him anti-social or judge him or a lack of engagement with politicians.

You can disagree with Obama is whatever you like, but he is an example in his family life. He is faithful to his spouse and spends quality time with his daughters. We have so few examples of this we should note it when seen.

I’ve recently completed teaching the books of 1 & 2 Samuel to our Bible school in South Africa. One of the prevailing themes and lessons we can apply from these books is in the area of leadership. As we study the lives of King Saul and King David we can learn from their success and failures. Throw in Samuel and even Eli in the mix and we have multiple character studies which can be embarked on.

If we analyze these leaders through the grid of their families, we see some interesting things.

Eli’s son’s were abusing the power of the priesthood, taking extra food, and were sleeping with women at the entrance to the temple. (1 Samuel 2). Eli rebukes them, but does not intervene to stop them or remove them from their position.

Samuel, one of the greatest guys in Scripture, has bad kids. His line of judges is stopped and a kingship comes because his son’s were corrupt and did not follow in the ways of God, or even their father. (1 Samuel 8:1-5)

David who is known as a man after God’s own heart, has a horrible mess of a family. His sons are rapists, murderers, attempt to mutiny, and seems to have no inclination to follow their father’s faith. They do horrible things and we never see David discipline them. (2 Samuel 13 and following)

Some of our best leadership examples did not do so well on the family front.

In fact, in both Samuel’s the only leader who is not mentioned as failing in family is Saul! He has a whole host of other problems, but his son Jonathan seems to turn out quite well.

I realize children make their own choices.
I do understand excellent parents can struggle with children following their own path.

But as we proclaim the order of priorities as God, Family, then Ministry/Career; we must be ruthless in our evaluation of what this means.

It is easy to say, but much harder to walk out.

Seasons change, methods and strategies must adapt, but we need to be faithful to seek the Lord not only for our ministries, but for the best strategies for our families and children.

Billy Graham, in Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham, lists his major regret in his life and ministry being the lack of time he spent with his children. Billy Graham, arguably one of the greatest ministers ever, staying free from scandal, regretted being away from his family so much.

Andy Stanley speaks of this often. He wrote a book, When Work and Family Collide: Keeping Your Job from Cheating Your Family. Recently he preached a message on this at his Atlanta church which I strongly recommend. (part 4 of this series)

At the end of the day, will we be excited about our ministry or career success if it cost us our family?

Family first requires constant evaluation and adjustment. Are you willing?

What are some of your tips for keeping Family First. What struggles have you face in doing this?

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God