It was a joy to meet you at the 2013 Puritan Reformed Conference. I enjoyed reading your practical and gospel-centered book. I especially appreciated its humble and honest tone.
1. How would you respond to a pastor who says that his ministry is his priority over his family? You may also want to comment on William Carey’s conviction that ministry work must come first before family responsibility.
I would tell him that he is disobeying the Word of God and the biblical calling of a pastor. A pastor’s calling in 1 Timothy 3 is to first manage his household before the church. I would also say that a pastor will give an account for souls (Heb. 13:17) not just in the church, but those in his family. I would argue the account will be given first to those in his household. A pastor’s first ministry is to his family, then the church. Lose your family, you will lose your ministry.
2. On page 41 you state, “Being a pastor and the wife of a pastor can indeed be a very lonely position.” Can you please elaborate your thoughts on this statement?
Most think the pastor and his wife would be the ones with the most friends in the church. The opposite is usually the case. Because of the position of the pastor in a church, it is hard to be transparent and open with certain folks not knowing what might later be used against him. Many relationships are based upon those wanting to get close to the pastor for personal gain, not simply friendship. This makes it hard for the pastor and his wife to find meaningful friendships and most pastors do not make the effort to find them outside their church.
3. What do you think is a pastor’s main problem as far as balancing his family and ministry responsibility is concerned?
The pastor’s main problem is not what he thinks it is. It is not the demands and pressures put upon him. The pastor’s main problem that causes an imbalance is his own sinful heart. It is his heart that makes him desire things that would cause the ministry to become an idol to him, thus neglecting his family. The pastor has to apply the power of the gospel to his heart struggles in the ministry to prevent family neglect.
4. What is the biblical solution to the problem mentioned in question # 3?
The power of the gospel not only saves us from our sins, but it also empowers us to overcome the sins of our hearts that affect our daily lives. The pastor must identify the sinful struggles in his heart that pull him away from his family, and repent. Then, he must turn to the Scriptures as the guide to how a pastor must conduct his life. Scripture gives us the blueprint to the calling of a pastor (1 Timothy 3:4-5), what the pastor should be doing with his time (Heb. 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-4), and how essential it is for a pastor to care for his wife (Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7) and shepherd his children (Eph. 6:1-4) in the midst of his life and ministry. As the pastor ministers God’s Word, he must himself walk in it to counter the sinful temptations that lead to neglect of the family.
5. This question is for your wife Cara: In what way can a pastor’s wife best help her husband in the ministry?
Each ministry is different, therefore what each husband needs will be different. I can not give you a specific answer except this, ask them. If you really want to know what your husband needs for you to do, ask him, and then be willing to hear whatever his answer may be. I know it sounds simple, but we as women tend to think we know what our husbands need and how they need us to serve. The truth is there may be a way that they are desiring for us to serve and we have never taken the time to ask them.
The second answer I would give is to pray for husbands. Our husbands need our prayers. And we need to not only pray for them but we need to tell them we are praying for them and ask in what specific ways we can pray for them better. This does two things. First it encourages our husbands by letting them know that we are thinking and interceding on their behalf. Second, it allows us to see into our husbands’ hearts a bit deeper and to know more of the burdens they are carrying. We need to be lifting them before God daily and seeking ways to encourage them as they labor both for the church and for our families. Notice I said “we”. That is because this is a lesson I am still learning.
6. What projects are you currently working on?
I have several books I am working on. There is a companion with the Pastor’s Family that will be about, “The Pastor’s Ministry” which will be focused on the top 10 biblical priorities of every pastor’s ministry. Then I am writing, co-writing, and editing 6 more books for our Practical Shepherding series, all to be published in the next two years. Practical books on administration, caring for widows, planning and leading worship, praying for the flock, and how to comfort the grieving are some of the topics of these books. We are very excited about all the Lord is doing with Practical Shepherding and the books that will be the foundation for our ministry for year to come, Lord willing.
Note: You can buy the book here.