In a typical family, children observe how their parents respond to life's circumstances, how they establish priorities and values, how they relate to others (including God), how they view and care for themselves, and how they nurture their love for one another. They learn the skills that they will use themselves someday. And, while a minister's family is often not typical, when it comes to children witnessing and imitating their parents, the general truth holds, leaving us pastors with a tremendous responsibility before God right in our own homes.
But, in many ways, a pastor is also like a parent to his or her congregation. And like children, church members observe the priorities, values and interactions demonstrated by pastoral couples. The responsibility with which we handle our money, the cordiality we extend to visitors in our homes, and our willingness to reach out sacrificially to those in need are all part of the lifestyle model that leaves a greater impact on those we serve than any sermon.
Likewise, the marital relationship of a pastoral couple frequently becomes the model that guides the marriages of many in their congregation. When members see open, enthusiastic affection between those they look up to, they incorporate it into their own relationships. When they detect a union based on unabashed love and respect, similar dignity finds its way into their commitments. When they see their pastor gently holding hands with his or her spouse, it speaks volumes. When they discover that nothing short of a major crisis will interfere with their pastor's date night, they take notice of godly priorities. When they observe the pastor's family taking care of itself, they are encouraged to do the same in their own homes.
You and your spouse are a living sermon, truly one of the most wonderful ways to be an instrument of righteousness to those you serve.
Ever feel like you need to wear a mask to cover up who you are? Are you concerned that, if people knew who you really are and how you really felt, they wouldn't understand?
One minister, two jobs and the family that's at the top of the list. The number of bivocational ministers, those in full- or part-time ministry who carry an additional job, is estimated by some researchers to be as high as 30 percent of ministers nationwide.
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.