Do you know why many Christian families hit the rock? Because they thought family responsibility isn’t ministry. In fact, I see a lot of believers especially Pastors say things like “don’t sacrifice ministry because of your family”. Yes, that is the absolute truth but we never always forget to add that our own families are also ministry, they can’t be separated from ministry.
Let’s see God’s purpose for every family, especially the family of believers
“Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.” – Malachi 2:15
When you forsake your family responsibilities because of God’s “call upon your life”, you have also failed God because you were primarily called for your family too. By this I mean your own immediate family, your wife, husband, kids and the entire household.
It is the careless overlook of the family that has made a lot of Pastors the worst parents. Growing up, I came across a lot of Pastors’ kids, I myself was a kid of a minister but I was privileged to have parents who understood that the family is the primary ministry centre.
So, I came across pastors’ kids and one thing was always consistent in my experience of them, they are mostly wayward and the direct opposite of what their parents represented. We know that the family of believers especially ministers of the gospel are serious targets for the devil and this is why we must never joke with our families.
Growing up, I realized that what most of them lacked was proper parenting. They had parents who were powerful on the pulpit and in the streets but very powerless at home. Many of these Pastors command authority outside but has little or none at home.
Ministry also starts with the family. Let’s see how the New Testament addresses this profound truth
“So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him.” – 1 Timothy 3:2,4
A summation of the above would simply mean that a man fit for ministry must be a man who is strictly family-oriented. It must be a man whose faithfulness and accountability to his wife is profound!
A man who has failed in managing his home will possibly not be able to manage others so well. A lot of times, when God wants to do something great in a generation, he begins with a family from ages past. For example, God had destined that Israel would be the nation through which the Earth would receive Jesus but he didn’t just start out with Israel, he started with Abraham.
If Abraham had failed his family, he would have also failed God. It is God’s desire that we raise godly seeds for him, it is his desire that through the blessings of multiplication which he has given to man, we can multiply worshippers!
When ministers of the gospel do not raise godly seeds or build a family that glorifies God, they are rather bringing mockery to the name of God. Being sound in doctrine does not replace the need to gain mastery in the skill of parenting, it doesn’t replace the need to also spend time with your family.
As much as you teach the word, as much as you pray and fly from one conference to another, as much as you spend quiet time with God, as much as lock-up yourself to study or travel to the mountain to meditate, also remember that your family is your primary responsibility!
Not in any place in the Bible are we asked to ignore our families. Many believers cover their inadequacies with lots of Bible passages, they want to blame God for their inability to take care of their families, they use ministry as an excuse to exempt themselves from their responsibilities but we see from the Bible that a supposed minister of the gospel who has failed in his family responsibilities lacks qualification to pastor others.
One of the most mistaken places in the Bible is where Jesus said
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.” – Matthew 10:37
God designed human to be socially responsible in the manner that we can be emotionally attached to each other and we should not confuse this kind of love with the love for God. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that our love for others shows our love for God which means we can’t truly love God and never love others.
By that strong statement which Jesus made, he was emphasising that we must love God above every other thing but the love for God does not rob off the love for others. Let’s see what Jesus said somewhere else
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘you shall love your neighbour as yourself’ Matthew 22:37-39
While the love for God comes first, the love for others is likened to it. Jesus said, “the second is like it”.
The love for Jesus is not characterised by emotions but by obedience. When Jesus said we should love him more than anyone else, he was simply saying “make me the priority, obey me”. The Bible affirms this
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:3
Jesus shows us the ultimate way to love him in his conversation with Peter
“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” – John 21:15
Loving Jesus more than our spouse and children don’t mean being less emotionally attached to them, it doesn’t mean forsaking them and not giving them the time they deserve, it doesn’t mean being more committed to Church activities and being less committed to them.
However, loving Jesus more also means that no matter the love we have for our spouse and children, they can not convince us to give up on that which Jesus has called us to do.