Oct 14, 2020

How to Really Love Your Family as a Pastor

Pastor Appreciation Month falls in October, and for pastors it would be a lost opportunity if we didn’t take this time to reflect on the appreciation we should have towards our families. We must be careful though; only taking a temporary pause to appreciate our families will mean very little if it does not help change the long-term day-to-day interactions with them. Much like Christ intimately pouring into His disciples, pastors must take the role of the spiritual leader of the family with the utmost importance. This seems to always be easier said (and in most cases preached), than done for ourselves.

Ministry is demanding. This might be a bias statement, but pastoral ministry is one of the toughest jobs when it comes to balancing work and family. Most pastors walk through their doors at the end of the day exhausted and worn out from whatever God had placed in front of them for that day. It is taken for granted that the pastor’s family is doing “just fine” and not in need of the same leadership he was pouring out while at work. As pastors, we can unintentionally create a false representation of how the family is doing. We can get caught up in a narrative that has the potential to breed unnecessary spiritual erosion. We may look like a well-to-do home with perfect landscaping and properly hung shutters, but in reality, we have a giant flood in the basement.

Though there are countless ways we, as pastoral leaders, can show appreciation and love to our families, let’s look at two specific ways.

First, is through our growth in humility.

Second, is to give true priority to your family.

When fostered, these two areas have the power to transform the family. They should be obvious staples to pastors for healthy homes. Sadly, it can be overlooked in our own lives far too often.

Growth in Humility

Humility is an irresistible force in building trust, truth, and connectivity. There is an important quote by Augustine in the book Caring for One Another by Edward T. Welsh that reads as follows:

“That first way [to truth] is humility; the second way is humility; and the third way is humility.”

The Apostle Paul even prioritizes humility in Ephesians. He called the church to be worthy of the calling with humility, and gentleness, and with patience. Imagine the transforming power you will have as a leader to your kids if they see that you are walking humbly beside them. The family will gain vulnerability, while pain and hurt can be shared; and will be met with compassion and trust.

A humble leader will not shy away from asking for prayer. Being able to humble yourself and let your pride fall can only create an opportunity for your family to find comfort in opening up as well. When we give our needs, struggles, worries, etc. to the ones we love, there is a greater opportunity for them to share their needs and feelings in return. Loving our families might simply look like us being vulnerable first. This is not a guarantee that your teenager or child will open up, but there will be an understanding that their father is willing to not be the perfect false narrative of a pastor, but a real human with flaws. Ask your spouse and children to pray for those flaws, and take the time to pray for theirs.

Give Priority to Your Family

As Pastors and parents, we must be present and give priority in the life of our families. I have strived and failed at doing this for my family. One of the hardest things in ministry is to say “no” to ministry. We feel the weight of the requirements of availability, and the disappointment in allowing it to drag us away from our family. Our families crumble when this takes place. Part of our call to ministry is sharing the love of Christ and the theology that gives weight to making family a priority. However, we all too often turn into well-intentioned hypocrites when it comes to this topic.

It is imperative that we reconcile our attitude towards prioritizing our families. More than any other time in history, we are connected to the congregation nearly twenty-four hours a day. We have the church’s emails and their social media pages at our fingertips at any given time. When the phone rings, we give it the power to pull us away from our family. To say we are easily reached is a wonderful, but unfortunate luxury to have. Remember that saying “yes” to a ministry opportunity is an automatic “no” to other things– including our family. There are times when we must be reached and that is understandable, but it is not a necessity as much as we think. We have been lulled into a false sense of what ministry is when we start to think about availability over family and even over our relationship with God at times. This train of thought creates erosion and allows the flood in the basement to rise.

You are not Alone: Thoughts from Fellow Pastors

I want to share just a few thoughts from fellow pastors in hopes that it gives you some ideas on how to love and appreciate your families well when it comes to being present.

  1. Turn notifications off on your phone when you get home. Intentionally create healthy boundaries that do not allow unhealthy habits dictate your time with your family.
  2. When you are at home, be at home. Do not work on church projects. Give your family the attention they want and deserve.
  3. Realizing that your neglect of your family for the “sake of ministry” might alienate your family and create bitterness for you, or worse towards God and His church.
  4. Create intentional one on one time with your family. Find what works for you and make it a part of your daily habit. Examples could be making sure that each one of your kids has a specific length of alone time with you each day. Put the phone away when you crawl into bed and have a personal conversation with your spouse.
  5. Protect a night that is set aside for your family only. This is a night marked on your calendar and known by your church leadership as a no-go night. This is family game night, movie night, pizza night, etc. Make it known to your family that nothing pulls you away no matter what for at least one night a week.
  6. Help your spouse out at church, even for just a few minutes. Make some time on Sunday morning to show them you see them and appreciate their desire to be at church and support you. Greet them at the door when they arrive. If possible, take one of the kids with you to church to give your spouse some relief with getting the other ones ready at home without you.

To walk humbly and to be present in your family’s life is vital. We will all choose how we are going to approach aspects of loving our families. The one thing we cannot do is to ignore it altogether. To love our family is to prioritize them. Christ did not sit with the prostitutes and tax collectors because they were perfect, or because society said they met a certain benchmark. Christ sat with them because he wanted them to know that they mattered. He humbled himself to do the thing the religious leaders of the time would not do, and he showed them that they had value. We must do the same–humble ourselves and give priority to our family.

By <a href="https://pastorskids.org/author/clifton-kapka/" target="_self">Clifton Kapka</a>

By Clifton Kapka

Clifton Kapka serves as the Associate Pastor over pastoral care for The Well Church in Argyle, TX. He has been on staff in a bi-vocational role since helping plant the church in 2015. Clif longs for the day that the church wholeheartedly and unconditionally lives out the love that Christ modeled for us. He has been married to his wife Amanda for 10 years and they have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter. He did not grow up as a pastor’s kid, but as a father of one, he loves to see ministry poured upon this amazing community of minister’s children. When not at the church or at his day job, you can find him playing with his daughter outside, at the movies with his wife, or searching for the next amazing barbecue joint in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.