Reverend Emmanuel Shephard— Life Changer Community Church (Katy, Tx)
The central task of having a balanced ministerial life can sometimes be a challenging and exhausting effort. It’s a challenge one can easily be overwhelmed with because of the many responsibilities we have in our daily lives. As for me, I serve as the Minister of Education at my church, I am in seminary working on my Th.M. (Master’s in Theology), I am married with two children, and I have a full-time career. As you can see, I have much responsibility in each area of my life to which each capacity implores my attention regularly. I must admit that I did not do too well with juggling each of my responsibilities at first. In the beginning, I found myself giving too much attention in one area and saw the other areas suffer. For instance, I can remember when I was taking my Greek classes in seminary I was greatly focused on my study. I pretty much gave it all my attention and it essentially became priority number one. The consequence of that was I saw my family suffer, namely my wife and kids. Before, I would always spend time with my family by having movie night, help with homework, and game nights. However, during this time I stopped putting my family first. My kids began to do poorly in school and my wife increasingly became frustrated with me because she felt abandoned. God was gracious enough to allow me to open my eyes and see what I was doing. I finally realized that my family should always be my first ministry. I realized that my wife needed a husband and my kids needed a father.
My friend, may I encourage you to always make your family your first ministry. I know that you have a passion for your ministry and you want to do all you can to make sure it succeeds, but there is no success without the success of your family. This is even more critical when you have small children. Have you ever heard the saying “PK’s (preacher kids) are the worst?” In many cases that is a true statement. The reason why PK’s may have issues is because their fathers may have been so caught up in ministry that they did not spend quality time with them resulting in delinquent behavior. This brings me to a book I was assigned while in seminary named “Good Christians Good Husbands?” by Doreen Moore. I highly recommend that if you are in ministry, especially pastors, go buy this book! Moore writes about three prominent itinerate preachers back in the early days of the church, John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards. If you know anything about church history then you would know that these are great men of God.
Moore talks about how each one of these men had a profound passion for God and ministry. For instance, they would spend countless hours a day studying the word of God, travel hundreds of miles by horseback to preach the word of God, and sometimes preach multiple sermons every day. While their drive for God and ministry was mind-blowing, Wesley and Whitefield placed ministry before family. The result of that was they did not have a fruitful marriage or family. As for Edwards, he placed his family as his first ministry by giving them quality time. He was married with 11 children whom he loved dearly. It said that he would even allow his children in his study room while he would prepare sermons. The result of him putting family first was a healthy marriage and successful children. Edwards’ children and grandchildren have grown up to be Senators, president of Harvard, judges, lawyers, and ministers just to name a few. Friend, if God blessed Edwards for his faithfulness to his family He will do the same for you! So, always make your family your number one ministry and God will surely bless you.