Is it ever okay to follow your own desires?

I recently submitted my resignation to the church where I currently serve as an associate pastor.  The reason?  My wife and I feel like we need to be closer to our families as we raise our daughter, who was just born in January.  Our current church is in California.  Our families are in Ohio.

I have to admit, this was not an easy decision for me.  After all, ministry requires sacrifice, right?  Is it not just self-serving to want to serve God, but only on our own terms?  I recently even heard a pastor voice his frustration over the fact that many young seminary graduates are choosing to stay near their families as they look for their first ministries.  This pastor felt that these young graduates were being disobedient to God’s call on their lives because they were not willing to go wherever the Lord may lead them – and wherever the need may be.  Of course, this seems to ignore the fact that there is likely a need for pastors close to where these men currently live. 

As I wrestled through this issue, my decision came down to one primary realization: my ministry in the church means nothing if I cannot provide for the needs of my own family.  I can make all of the sacrifices in the world for the sake of church ministry, but what does it accomplish if my wife and daughter are destroyed in the process?  What does it accomplish if I am miserable in the process?

This is not to say that we are currently miserable.  I am thinking long-term here.  It is true that God has called me into the ministry to serve his Church.  However, he has also called me to be a husband and father.  One does not cancel out the other.  How do I serve my wife and daughter best while also serving the church?  Sometimes finding the appropriate balance between the two is difficult.

What are your thoughts?  Is it okay for a person in full-time ministry to desire to be close to family while they serve?  How should a pastor or other Christian servant balance the demands of family and ministry?

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3 Responses to Is it ever okay to follow your own desires?

  1. Ben A says:

    Tim, you’re right on. Being single gives you the ability to do things that a married person can’t do.

    I am saddened when I see pastors abusing, mistreating or neglecting their wife and family and doing it in the name of God.

    Family is our first ministry. Our professional lives (including all forms of other ministry) are our second or third ministry.

  2. ABFaith says:

    If anyone has no care for his family and those in his house, he is false to the faith, and is worse than one who has no faith. (1Tim. 5:8 BBE)

    I support you in your decision to remember that HIS call does not negate your responsibilities to your family.

    Be blessed. 🙂

  3. layrenewal says:

    Tough question.

    Is it ok for a person to DESIRE to be close to family? Of course it is ok. Honestly though, I think location to extended family has little to do with effectiveness in ministry or the ability to be a good husband and / or father.

    I will say from personal experience that it does help to have family close. In my case, we have recently been blessed to have extended family move closer TO US. That is usually not the norm, but it was a blessing – especially since one of our children was diagnosed with special needs.

    If that had not happened though, would I have left this calling to be closer to family? I don’t know.

    Ultimately, what does Scripture say?
    – A man should not be a leader in the church unless he is a good leader in his own home.
    – A man needs to listen to the Lord’s leading.

    If you are running from a call, that’s not right. If you are running from the home, that’s not right either.

    Pray, search the Scriptures, seek Biblical counsel and proceed boldly with the Lord! That applies to callings and life in general, doesn’t it?

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