The demands of pastoral ministry can be tough on the pastor’s wife and family. Not only do they tempt him to neglect his family, they can leave him void of good, creative, meaningful ideas on how to love and serve them.
Pastor, we cannot help you with the temptation to neglect them, other than exhort you to flee this temptation—Christ hasn’t neglected you, has he?! But perhaps we can help you with several practical ideas to help motivate you to love and serve your wife and children more effectively. Here they are:
IN RELATION TO YOUR FAMILY...
- Take the initiative and establish a plan for family worship. Then follow the plan! (Don Whitney encourages “brevity, regularity, and flexibility” in family worship.)
- Come home at the exact time you say you will be home; and prepare your heart to serve your family, not be served.
- Take responsibility for your children’s education and discipline—don’t leave it to your wife to figure out.
- Share with your wife and kids some of the good things that are going on in the church, and then thank them for helping to make that possible.
- Use every hour of your vacation time. And take a vacation that does not involve extended family; restrict it to just your wife and kids.
- Take a two week vacation.
- Diligently guard your days off.
There are times when it seems like you have to choose whether to be a good dad/husband or a good pastor. Good pastors choose to be good dad/husbands.
IN RELATION TO YOUR WIFE…
- Get up early and have your quiet time, so that you can take the kids in the morning while your wife has her quiet time.
- Give her flowers and a hand written card when she least expects it.
- Regularly schedule a date night and take the initiative on logistics, i.e. organize the baby-sitter, make reservations, and have a plan.
- Make sure you know her favorite restaurant, meal, flowers, ice cream flavor, and movie.
- Schedule a weekly time where you watch the kids and your wife gets out to do whatever she wants—not errands. When you can, give her a whole day off from the kids.
- Decide together with your wife how many evenings you will be gone and honor what has been agreed upon.
- On Sundays, leave for church a few minutes early to stop and get your wife her favorite coffee drink.
- Ask your wife over a romantic dinner areas she wants to see you improve.
- Take your wife to an encouraging conference.
- Plan regular out-of-town personal retreats for just you and her. Plan time on your retreat to write down all the evidences of grace you see in one another’s lives and then share them with one another. Later, spend time writing down your hopes for ways you want to grow as husband and father over the coming year (she doing the same for herself) and then share them with one another.
- Respect and seek her opinion on things concerning the church.
Go for long walks.
IN RELATION TO YOUR CHILDREN…
- Have deliberate one-on-one time weekly with each of your children, probably to include playing, reading scripture, or praying.
- Date your daughters.
- Leave the church at church so dad can be dad at home.
- Take a child with you on visits or short term trips.
Ask your children questions that allow you to shepherd their hearts, such as these (these questions were posted by Justin Taylor, and were originally devised by Pastor Rick Gamache of Sovereign Grace Fellowship)
- In your own words, what is the gospel?
- Is there a specific sin you’re aware of that you need my help defeating?
- Are you more aware of my encouragement or my criticism?
- What’s daddy most passionate about?
- Do I act the same at church as I do when I’m at home?
- Are you aware of my love for you?
- Is there any way I’ve sinned against you that I’ve not repented of?
- Do you have any observations for me?
- How am I doing as a dad?
- How have Sunday’s sermons impacted you?
- Does my relationship with mom make you excited to be married?
- (On top of these things, with my older kids, I’m always inquiring about their relationship with their friends and making sure God and his gospel are the center of those relationship. And I look for every opportunity to praise their mother and increase their appreciation and love for her.)
- Take an interest in what your children enjoy doing.
- Read to them. Buy books they will enjoy. Take them to the library.
- Sing with them.
- Pray for them and with them.
- Be careful not to put them in the spotlight at church (stop using them for every other sermon illustration!).
Contributors (all pastors): Bret Capranica (San Jacinto, CA), Brian Croft (Louisville, KY), Bob Johnson (Roseville, MI), Michael Lawrence (Washington, DC), Mike McKinley (Sterling, VA), Deepak Reju (Washington, DC), and Jeramie Rinne (Hingham, MA)
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