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?