When church/ministry makes you too busy

Over worked pastor © Martin Applegate | Dreamstime.comAs someone said in the comments a few days ago, another source of business is church. This comes in three flavours, or a mix of two or all three.

  • Feeling you have to be at church every time the doors are open. I have a friend who says Jesus did not come that we might “Have meetings and those more abundantly.” I’m all for worship, prayer, fellowship, discipleship, Bible study, small groups, and so on and so forth, but too many programs and meetings is too many no matter how worthy each one may be. When frequent church meetings hurt your family or your marriage, you are NOT in line with God’s Word. Please don’t let anyone guilt you into attending things to which you should say no. You, not those guilting you, will answer to God for how you use your time.
  • Doing too much ministry. I love to minster, especially when I see God use it to change lives, and it can be addictive. Some minster “too much” out of fear, guilt, pride, or because they are manipulated into it. I’ve known youth minsters who didn’t have time for their own children, and marriage minsters whose marriage was in deep trouble. God is clear we are not qualified to minster if we do not have healthy relationships with our spouse and children. I am not saying you have to be perfect to minster, but if there are significant problems, you need to scale back or stop ministry until things are worked out.
  • It’s your job. Those of us paid to minster can misjudge the proper priority for ministry because it is both ministry and employment. If you have those two things as, say, fourth and fifth place on your priority list, do not think the two being the same elevates it to third place. It’s still fourth and fifth.

We should minster because we love God, not to prove we love Him. Our relationship with God and our ministry are related, but they are not the same thing. The fact that God is first does not mean ministry trumps all other activities and responsibilities.

Leaders: PLEASE do not allow your people to do too much church or ministry. I am not just saying do not over work them, I am saying do not allow them to do too much. We have a responsibly to God for those He places in our care, and if we allow them to do too much we will answer for it.

Church members: Do not be guilty of trying to push your pastor and other leaders to do more than they should. Most in the church have no idea what a pastor’s life is like, and how much pressure they face. A few stats (from the New York Times – August 1, 2010):

  • 33% of pastors say being in ministry is a hazard to their families.  
  • 40% of pastors, and 47% of pastor’s spouses, are suffering from burnout or being excessively busy. 
  • More than half say they would leave the pastorate if they had a good job offer elsewhere. 
  • 80% of pastors say they do not have enough time with their spouse
  • 90% work more than 50 hours a week.

The vast majority of pastors are over worked, underpaid, stressed, and grossly under-appreciated. You can make a difference for your pastor, and your pastor’s family. Fight for your pastor to have enough pay, enough help, and enough off time to have a healthy family life. 

This is one of seven posts about busyness:

The sin of busyness? 
Too busy because too much is too important
Playing “the kids” card
Employment and priorities 
Too busy for good sex 
When church/ministry makes you too busy

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Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:


The Generous Wife

Hold That Line ◄ My bride’s take on something that shaped one of my recent posts.
Our Problems ◄ Lest you think we are prefect …

Hot, Holy and Humorous

Step Up, Church, and Talk about Sex ◄ J has some good suggestions for churches.
Am I Obsessed with Sex? No. Are You? ◄ This gets a very loud AMEN from me.

Intimacy in Marriage

Boring Sex? Here are 3 Tips ◄ Check out #2!

Marriage Life

Thoughts Produce Feelings Produce Actions ◄ Good post, give it a slow read and long thought.
Walk Down a Different Street ◄ Is it time to take a different street in your marriage?

Marriage Missions International

Move Marriage from Good to Great ◄ This is dead on, Are you up to the task of a GREAT marriage?

Marriage Works

Answering Questions about Marriage On the Stupendous Marriage Show With Stu and Lisa Gray ◄ Great show – other than that phone call!

8 Comments on “When church/ministry makes you too busy

  1. I just had to add a comment or two since my wife and I deal with this issue 7 days a week. The key to this is balance and priorities. I see people using their families as an excuse to miss the opportunities that God provides for us to develop in our personal ministry by missing the opportunity for body ministry that God has designed to take place during scheduled service times. These are practice and development times that many miss out on because they stay home rather that learn how each person in their family should be involved in ministry. When you are married or married with family, then ministry is a family responsibility, not a personal one.
    The other aspect to this is that most who stay home to be with family (first of all) usually do not spend time with family then or at other available family times, and secondly, they miss out on discipleship times. In doing so, they never really grow to maturity in Christ which in return places bigger and more time consuming responsibilities on the pastor or pastoral staff. If the church desire to mature, then each person would pick up just a little of the “work” load of the pastor (etc) and every person’s “work” load would be lighter affording the pastor (etc) the opportunity to spend more personal time with his family.
    I an attempt to keep it short, I hope I did not muddy the waters but instead have communicated the downward spiral we, the church, have gotten ourselves into by getting our priorities out of place and by making attempts to treat the symptoms and not the cause through human decisions and not by biblical ones.

  2. John – You certainly provide a necessary balance. I’ve seen people who don’t get involved “because of family” who don’t spend the extra time with or on their family.

    • I have noticed over the years, that the most solid families are families who serve Christ together, not just in prayer and family devotions, but in doing ministry together. Ministry times together can provide the greatest quality time a family spend with each other. When you stay home from church or don’t participate in ministry because you are spending time with family, are you teaching your children that God’s desires are not the most important priority of life? Oh, I understand that if you have the attitude that “I have to go to church” then you children will not want to go. But I am speaking about serving God because you want to – because you love Him so much – doesn’t our actions model the true priorities of our lives?

      • John – The problem comes when men put things out there in the name of God, and people feel they must do them. Or too many things are put out in the name of God, and once someone says no to one of those things, they start saying no to many of them.

        I think counting the cost is a valid principle for ALL things, even ministry. If the cost is your marriage or your kids, something is wrong.

        I fully agree on doing it together. I especially hate to see a couple who are both ministering, but never doing the same thing. As you said “ministry is a family responsibility, not a personal one.”

  3. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

  4. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

  5. Sir how do u explain this verse? Just to know I have sent that verse. Because I am working with a christian organisation whr sometimes I am very busy.

  6. JubalGraceson  “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” {1 Timothy 5:8 ESV}
    So then the question is this – is monetary provision enough to satisfy this scripture, or does God care about more than that?

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