Today’s post is written by guest writer, Andrea Hamilton Binley.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only recovering workaholic in ministry. The fact that you clicked on this title probably means you’re wrestling with this issue. But if you’re not, remember: denial is one of the symptoms. 🙂
Having a willing-to-serve personality is mostly a huge blessing, but now and then it makes it harder for me, and all of my servant-leader brothers and sisters, to keep a healthy balance of life’s activities.
In ministry, there’s no end to the list of people’s needs. And it’s such a righteous cause, that it almost feels godly to be slightly workaholic – you know, skip some date nights and Sabbaths – all for the Gospel of course.
Who’s Number One
But I’ve been thinking about this question lately: Where is my “number one” ministry?
The answer to that question isn’t a certain church or platform; it’s in my home.
Everyone’s stage of life and family structure looks different, but for me currently, my household is Trent (my husband) and me.
It’s clear to me that I could do big things in my “public” ministry all I want, but if I’m short-changing the one person God has placed closest to me, then my efforts have gotten grossly out of balance.
When I lay my head on the pillow, are my thoughts all about my church work? Am I dreaming of how to make a funny joke next time I speak and crafting the perfect answer to that volunteer’s email? Or am I most excited about planning my next date night, love letter, and how I’m going to take some chores off Trent’s hands?
Where is most of my energy and passion channeled each day?
I strongly believe that if I’m not making every effort to grow in my number one relationship, then I’m not that great of a church leader, no matter how much I do for the people there.
Keeping First Things First
Here are three tips to make sure first things stay first things:
1. Decide Who Comes First After Jesus.
If you’re married, guess what: it’s your spouse. Others will discern that it’s their kids, family of origin, or even another person God has brought close and designated as a spiritual family member.
Be regularly assessing your actions, activities, and commitments and asking yourself, do my schedule and work habits put this person (or these people) first?
2. Don’t Live Life Overcommitted.
If you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, you may not be able to serve and show love to your primary person the way you want to. Get rid of the extra stuff and major on the major: pouring crazy love and attention out to your household.
Remember that whenever you say YES to something, you’re saying NO to something else.
Too many yes’s usually mean a lot of stress and divided attention. The Bible isn’t calling us to meet every need in the world by ourselves. It is calling us to live simply and LOVE WELL.
3. Ask How You’re Doing.
It’s so helpful, and sometimes humbling, when I get to sit down and ask Trent, “How am I doing putting you first?”
You may find out some very helpful information by simply asking the people in your life who take priority over your ministry, “Am I doing well at showing you that you take priority?” Find out what translates as love and honor to them, and don’t let the endless to-do list at work keep you from doing those things.
When we look back, I want all of us ministers to be able to say we kept first things first.
For discussion below: What are some ways you work to keep first things first in your life and ministry?