4 Healthy Defaults for Balancing Family and Ministry – Part 1

Balancing Family MinistryIn my previous post I talked about the importance of allowing a God-given vision for family and ministry. After, trying to balance family and ministry is a moving target for most of us. Just when you think you have it figured out, it changes! While trying to find balance seems like an impossible task, it should not mean that you and I shouldn’t seek out healthy defaults for our family.

In this post, and the following three, I want to take you on a journey with me. It’s a journey that my family has been on as we have looked to implement God’s vision for family and ministry.


While this list is not the last word on healthy defaults, I consider it a good beginning. Please do not see it as a legalistic list of obligations. Rather, see it as the start of a road map on a journey to greater health and balance for you and your family.

Healthy Default #1

Spiritual: How is your relationship with God taking a greater priority over what you do for God?

  1. Sabbath – Do you take a full day off from ministry? If not, why not? Once a friend said, “Does God need you so badly to build His Kingdom that He wants you to put aside His own relationship with you?” It hurt, but he had a point…
  2. Quiet Times – Are you able to reflect and listen to what God is calling you to do? When can you schedule a time of quiet? There’s a vast difference between rushing with God and resting in Him.
  3. Bible Study – Rather than studying God’s Word for another lesson plan, seek out a study or devotion to rediscover the wonder and awe God has for you. When is the best time to get away and read? What is your reading plan?
  4. Small Group – Are you able to grow in community? We often tell people the importance of being in a small group, yet it’s a challenge for us to make the commitment. What can you say “no” to in ministry that will allow you to say “yes” to being in a small group?

Confession Time: Before you think that our family is the model family in ministry, please know that we are far from it! It’s easy to read posts like this one and play the comparison game. Please don’t! The truth is, this recent season of moving and relocating has meant that some of these healthy defaults have taken a back seat. Therefore, would you consider joining my family and myself as we rediscover our vision and healthy defaults for family and ministry?

Next Post: We will take a look at Healthy Default #2!

Phil <><

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A New Vision For Balancing Family & Ministry

Balancing family and ministryEvery time we say “yes” to something will always mean that we are saying “no” to something else. For those of us in ministry, it’s often easiest to say “no” to our family. They understand better, right? But, fast forward a few years and your spouse (if you are married), and your kids, (if you have any), will likely resent you (and the church) for always “cheating” on them.

In my previous post I wrote about 8 Signs of an Unhealthy Youth & Children’s Ministry Worker. It’s possible you read that post and walked away feeling convicted of the need to find a healthy balance for yourself and your family? But it’s also possible you were looking for answers of where to begin? Before we find answers, let’s face a reality:

Balancing family and ministry is often like trying to hit a moving target.

My family AND ministry is constantly changing. Just when I think I have it figured out, it changes again… Know the feeling? With so many different seasons of family and ministry, it’s like trying to balance a pile of rocks on a moving surface…

It Begins with Vision! 

The task of  balancing family and ministry is simplified when we seek God to create a compelling vision for family and ministry


While many of us have a vision statement for our own ministries, how many of us have taken time to ensure we are seeking a God-given vision for our own family?

Even though balancing family and ministry is a constant moving target, it is a compelling vision for family and ministry that will help us keep taking the steps towards balance. Healthy balance typically follows closely to a God-given vision. Or to put it another way:

The balancing point for family and ministry is often found closely to a God-given vision

So, where can we start?

  1. Understand what vision is: Simply put, vision is a picture of a hoped for future.
  2. Craft a new vision for you and your family. What words or phrases do you want to describe yourself and your family a year, five years, or ten years from now? Sit down with your family and seek God to create a vision statement for family and ministry. Know that this process will require a lot of prayer and discussion and is not something that can be created quickly, (but it’s well worth it).
  3. Set goals that support your vision: What goals do you want to attain for you and your family? Under that vision statement, what are some specific goals you have yourself and your family. Do the goals support your vision, or do they just add to the busyness?
  4. Think about the steps that are needed: What steps do you need to take to attain your vision and goals?
  5. Create a timeline and schedule: When will you make time for these steps? Saying “yes” to everything will mean you say “no” to many essentials. What do you need to ruthlessly clear in your family schedule? What needs to be replaced?
  6. Who will hold you accountable? This is key! Who knows you well enough to hold your task while also holding your hand a little? If you have a mentor or friend in ministry who understands the unique challenges, ask them to hold you accountable.

In my next post, I will take a look at some foundational habits we can strive for (with God’s help), to help us support a vision for healthy family and ministry. 

Phil <><

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8 Signs of an Unhealthy Youth & Children’s Ministry Worker

8“The way you invest in your own family will significantly affect the influence you have with parents.” Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents. 

God has called parents to be the primary investors of their child’s faith journey. It’s essential that we comprehend the greater influence of time that parents have with their children.

Our ability to partner with parents will depend greatly on the example we set before them. 1 Timothy 3:5 calls us to take care of our family first, so that we can know how to take care of the family God…

What are the signs that our own walk and family life could be in trouble? Here are eight signs that I list in Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents. 

  1. People Pleasing: We live to impress others instead of pleasing God first. We say “yes” to everyone and everything and feel ashamed at the idea of saying “no” to anyone who asks. We almost feel selfish if we want to say “no” to someone’s request. In the meantime, we become worn out and ministry has little joy or excitement. We are running on empty and our own family gets the few leftovers, if anything meaningful from us.
  2. Platform Builders: We attempt to build a platform of significance for ourselves and live little to no room on the platform for Christ. We are constantly fueled by the accolades of success and by the making a name for ourselves.
  3. Stolen Identity: Our identity is staked in what we do rather than who we are in Christ. It only takes a negative comment or a failed event to make us wonder if we are really cut out for ministry. Rather than being confident in the person God has called us to be, we are stooped in the identity of the position we hold.
  4. Broken Boundaries: We don’t know how to say “no” to ministry needs, yet we constantly say “no” to our family with our time and focus with our own family. Saying “no” to family is often the easier route since they will be more understanding, right? Wrong. Over time an understanding spouse or child can easily become bitter and resentful of the church and your ministry.
  5. All Work and No Devotion: Our personal devotional time has become more of a study time for creating the next great idea or message for our ministry. Reading God’s Word and applying it personally and practically has been replaced by lesson preparation for the benefit of others.
  6. No Time for Worship: Making it into the church worship experience is a distant memory as we look to serve others and ensure that everything depends on us. While we encourage families to sit together in church, our own family has not experienced this for a long time…
  7. Present but not Really Present: In an over connected world where we can be contacted every minute of the day, it’s easy to be with our own families but not fully present with them. Rather than shut off the communication at strategic times, we feel like every phone call, text message, email, and social media request has to be answered instantly. Over time our kids and spouses conclude that the outside world is more important than what happens inside our own homes.
  8. The Temple is Crumbling: We are told that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, yet for some of us it feels like the temple is crumbling. There’s no time for exercise and food is often a comfort that leads to health complications over time. More than anything, we lack energy, and always feel like we need more sleep…

I know there are more to add to this list. What would you add? What steps are you taking to ensure that your family is healthy and your example to parents is worth following? Remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about seeking the author and perfecter of your faith…

Begin to today by admitting to God the areas in your life and ministry that need help… Invite a friend or mentor to encourage you to take healthier steps. Pray for God’s strength and wisdom to discover a healthier way to balance family and ministry… 

Phil <><

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Team Up! How to Become an Expert in Partnering with Parents!

Expert Lightbulb
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Partnering with parents to reach the next generation for Christ should be an essential component for every children’s and youth ministry. While we get to partner with them through our weekly programs, it’s imperative that we understand that God has called parents to be the primary equippers of their child’s faith journey. It’s essential that we comprehend the greater influence of time that parents have with their children.

 “I get it, but what next? I’m not an expert on parenting!”

That was a statement I made many years ago as I grappled with how best to reach parents with a vision to invest in their child’s faith journey. I had quickly found that parents were looking for practical ways to invest in their children, but many times, they were lost for ways to help faith come alive at home.  And while I was not always the one to help them with every question, it was imperative that I develop a network of people who had the answers.

“Be an expert at helping parents find answers rather than one who’s expected to have the answers.” Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents. 

Consider the following experts and support you can provide parents: 

  1. “Been There” Parents: Who are the parents who are a few steps ahead of the parents in your ministry? While there are no perfect parents, it’s essential to connect your parents with those who have gleaned valuable lessons in raising their own children in the faith. Who are the “been there” parents in your ministry?
  2. Trained Christian Counselors: Every community has a number of counselors, but they do not all come from a Christ-centered perspective. Talk to your senior pastor and other church leaders to build a list of recommended trained christian counselors.
  3. Community Agencies: While many community agencies will not have the same mission as the church, they can often provide great practical help to the families in your church.
  4. Books: Ask parents if there are books that have helped them in their parenting journey. Create a list and even be prepared to ask a parent to write a review of the book for other parents to read.
  5. Websites: What websites and blogs can help parents in their faith journey. Recently at Kidmin2015 we created a list of websites, blogs, and apps that can help parents. Click here for the list. 
  6. Apps: Some of your parents are already using apps and loving the ideas and encouragement they bring. Ask parents if they have a “go to” app they use as they invest in their child’s faith journey. Once you have found that app on the app store, consider searching for similar apps to recommend them.

Parents see you as the expert whether you like it or not. It does NOT mean you have to know all the answers, but it DOES mean that you should be an expert in finding the answers!

What are your “go to” resources for parents? What are your favorite websites, apps, and books to recommend parents? 

Phil <><


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