21 June 1999
Dear Brothers & Sisters;
Believe it or not, this started out to be our March pastor’s letter. We’ve had so many computer problems, that I haven’t been able to send it out. However, we have the victory, and are finally back on schedule.
We have had an exciting year so far, seeing God move miraculously wherever we’ve gone. He is still on the throne, and more than able to take care of every need in our lives. No matter what Satan tries to do, he is unable to win, because we already have the victory in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
About a month ago, we had a week where Satan threw what must have been his best shot at us. The engine on the motor home caught on fire, we cracked a head, one air conditioner went out, the generator tried to fall out, and Deborah was attacked in her body.
That week, we spent over $1,000 just for parts to fix things. You know what? Not only did God provide, but by the time the week was over, we had more money than when we started! The attack failed, and God used it as a way to open doors for us to minister to people we wouldn’t have otherwise. Praise the Lord!
Traveling as a family may have its problems, but we are there for each other when something like that happens. I am firmly convinced that God has called us to travel together, and by doing so, we are more able to accomplish His will.
This month’s teaching deals with the family. Sometimes, as ministers, we let the family sit on the back burner, but that’s not God’s best. We are called to serve Him together.
Also enclosed is our daughter’s first newsletter to your kids. She has felt a need to start ministering to the children of other ministers. They are called into the ministry also, and need encouragement in that. So, we pray that the MK News will bless and encourage them.
In Jesus’ Precious name,
Rev. Rich Murphy
THE BALANCE BETWEEN FAMILY & MINISTRY
God has laid certain requirements upon us as ministers where our families are concerned. In fact, this is so important to Him that He has made it a requirement when choosing someone for ministry.
“… If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife… 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)”
1 Timothy 3:1-5
This requirement isn’t just laid out for bishops, later on in the same chapter, it is also laid out for deacons. If that is so, and these are two ends of a spectrum of ministers, I think it is safe to say that every position in between would have the same requirements. So, in other words, all of us have the requirement of having a home that is in order.
Great, you might say, I’ve got my home in order, just look at how my children behave at church. Okay, let’s take a look at your children. Take a good look at their faces during the praise and worship, are they truly in love with the Lord, or are they just going through the motions? Can you see that they have connected with God, or are they just bored? How about during Sunday school (or children’s church) do they have valuable insights into the word of God that they are eager to share with the other children, or are they more interested in the craft projects?
What’s that? Do you have a problem with these questions? Do you think I’m expecting too much? Well, what does it mean to rule well our own house?
I don’t know how you would define that term, but I define it as having my family in love with the Lord. You see, we don’t have a sin problem in the world today, we have a love problem. Jesus said: “… Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words…” (Jn:14:23). We don’t need to teach out children how to obey the Lord as much as we need to teach them how to love the Lord. When they love Him, they will want to obey Him.
How do you teach children to love the Lord? You model it in front of them. Without divine intervention, they will never understand how to give their all to God without seeing you do it first.
Are your children seeing you love the Lord, or only seeing you serve the church? There is a difference, and it’s amazing how quickly our kids can pick up on it.
Just because your children behave in church doesn’t mean that they want to be there. They may behave just because it’s expected of them. That in itself isn’t any measure of their relationship with the Lord. But, what about the rest of the time? Does love for the Lord come out in their day to day life? Do they read the Bible only when you force them to, or do they do it on their own?
Yet, in many cases, perhaps even in most cases, we see the children of ministers resenting the Lord, instead of loving Him. Why is this so? It happens because the children feel that they’ve lost their parents to the church. Dad is out counseling, or ministering every evening, and is never there for them.
Ephesians 6:4 tells us “fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Yet, many of us are not only provoking our children to wrath against us, but also against God.
God has established some very clear priorities in all of our lives and ministries. Our first ministry is unto Him. If we don’t spend the time we need to in His presence, knowing and loving Him, we won’t have anything available to give to others.
The Lord has made this extremely clear in my life. Most of the churches that we have ministered in don’t know us, we just show up there, as God leads us, and believe for Him to open a door. However, if I don’t stay close to Him, I won’t find any open doors.
Although you may not need those same open doors that I do, because you are pastoring a church, you do need open hearts. It is amazing how quickly sheep can balk at the food they are given. For them to accept it, they must sense that it comes to them straight from the throne room. If you aren’t close to the Lord, you might be end up feeding them something from your heart, instead of from God’s heart. You too need that closeness with our Father.
The second priority that God has given us is our relationship with our spouses. Many people at this point say it’s their family, but this isn’t true, our spouse must come before our kids. The best thing we can do for our children is to love our spouse.
You would be amazed at the number of pastors that we minister to who have marriage problems. Again, just like the kids feeling they’ve lost dad to the church, many men in the ministry get so busy with the work of the Lord, and His people, that they forget the church in their home. That church must come first!
Priority number three is our children. God has entrusted us with the wonderful task of “raising up our children in the way they should go” (Prov 6:22). They are His children, and it is up to us to make sure that they receive whatever they need to stay in the place of being His children. God doesn’t desire for our children to leave Him through rebellion when they are teens, and then maybe come back to Him later. God’s best is for them to grow up loving Him, and never “losing their first love” (Rev 2:4).
It is only after these priorities are taken care of that God allows us to minister. He cares more about how you minister to your wife and children, than He cares about how you minister to your church.
I have heard so many traveling ministers come into churches and brag about being on the road all the time ministering. If you ask them where their family is while they are traveling, they’ll answer “Oh, they’re at home, we’re making a sacrifice as a family for the Lord.” They’re making a sacrifice all right, they’re sacrificing their marriage and their kids salvation.
I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be on the road ministering, or that God didn’t call them into the ministry. However, I am quite sure that God never told them to leave their family for Him. God doesn’t make exceptions in His priorities.
That’s why we live in a motor home. I know that God has called me to travel and minister, but I also know that He has called me to minister unto my family. I cannot ignore the ministry for my family, and I cannot ignore my family for the ministry. There is a balance there, and God desires for all of us to find it.
“Yeah, but those people need me,” you might say. Yes, I agree that they do, otherwise God would not have given you to them as His gift. However, your family needs you too. “Yeah, but the only time I can do counseling is in the evenings, and on weekends.” I’m not sure that’s true. I don’t see Psychiatrists having to do all their work on evenings and weekends, and people pay them big bucks for the same type of help that people come to you for. If people really want help, they’ll meet with you on your schedule.
But, let’s leave that aside, and say that you really do have to counsel and have meetings in the evenings. What’s wrong with spending time with your family during the day? There is no commandment of God written in the Bible that says a pastor must be in the church office all day and then minister all night. Rest in the Lord is something that God expects of us.
According to Dr. James Dobson, rebellion in children is closely associated with love in the family. The closer a family is, the less likely children are to rebel, become involved with drugs, or become involved in pre-marital sex. All we have to do to make sure that our children don’t do those things we don’t want them to is make sure they feel loved.
Divorce and adultery only come about because of people’s needs not being met in the marriage. We have the responsibility as ministers to minister to our spouses, so that their needs are being met. Do you love the people in the church more than your spouse? If so, you have a problem. God commands men to “love your wives as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for her” (Eph 5:25). Not to give them the leftovers after taking care of the sheep.
Women spell love as T I M E. If you don’t have time for your wife, there is no way you can be loving her. By the way, that goes both ways. Men may not spell love that way, but women, if you don’t have time for your husbands, there is no way you can be loving them either.
I encourage you therefore brethren, don’t let the demands of your church take away the church in your home. Yes, God will ask you how you met the demands of ministering to His flock, but He will also ask you how you ministered to your family.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to stand before God and tell Him that I was too busy taking care of the church to give my children a love for Him. That would seem to negate everything that I had done in His name.
This teaching is also available in our book "Wisdom For Christian Leaders"
Click here for more information about this book.
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Copyright © 1998 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life All rights reserved.