1 Timothy 3:5 If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?
This is obviously a parenthetical thought, but a very germane one. When I was in seminary I can recall being told, “Your first flock is your family,” but I don’t remember being taught much about how to implement that in practical terms. Most of the professors were good examples, and several invited students and their families into their homes fairly often. There was a class in Marriage and Family, but little if any of the content remains in my brain. Especially the single students had little if any framework for really taking it in. I have seen pastors’ families that were examples for the world, as Paul indicates they should be, but I have also seen pastors’ families that were tragedies. Not surprisingly, the churches served by those pastors didn’t do well either. Men can be very adept at putting the different parts of their lives into different boxes. That can be a fairly effective coping mechanism at times, but when the interconnections are ignored, everything can fall apart. A pastor’s first responsibility is to God, then to his wife, then to his physical children, then to his spiritual children, and then to the world. And somewhere in there he’s got to take care of himself! The thing is, if his focus on God is full and accurate, God will direct him in dealing with everything down the line, and take good care of him in the process. Society teaches us to define ourselves by our work, our job, and that leads to all sorts of aberrations. When a man sees himself as a pastor first, and all the other things after that, then even God becomes secondary or worse. Such a man will read the Bible only for sermon preparation, rather than to feed his own soul. Sadly, various studies tell us that a shocking number of pastors fit that pattern exactly. However, Bible knowledge alone doesn’t guarantee a successful life and ministry; God’s truth has to be internalized and applied. (James 1:22) It seems like every year we hear of “successful” pastors who are caught in horrible sin. That is certainly evidence that God’s priorities for life haven’t been followed.
As a pastor and Missionary Kid myself, this gives me a lot to think about. I am extremely aware of how blessed I was in my own upbringing, but that upbringing didn’t guarantee perfect behavior in me. That gives me grace in dealing with myself and with those around me! Thankfully, I was taught that my actions were my responsibility, and the consequences were mine to own as well. I see so much teaching of various sorts that denies that fundamental truth! My physical children have turned out pretty well, at least as the world views them, but their standing in God’s evaluation is between them and Him. How they have done and are doing with their children is again a matter for them, their children, and God. I’m very grateful to say I don’t think they’ve done badly! The immediate question for me is how I deal with my spiritual children, since that is a matter of my daily interaction. I now have quite a bit of experience, but that doesn’t mean I can just rely on past precedent. I still need to be active in keeping God first to the degree that I can hear Him accurately in terms of every other relationship in my life. If I will do that, He will supply the wisdom that otherwise I lack, and that is greatly to be desired.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the way You have led and grown me over the years. Thank You for the little victories You give me along the way. I pray that I would indeed be the child, husband, father, and pastor that You want me to be, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!