Enjoy this guest post from our friends over at Rozzi and Associates. They help good leaders become great through effective leadership development, emotional intelligence, and career management programs.
We’ve become desensitized to the story because we’ve heard it far too often.
The minister pours his heart into his calling and dedicates himself to his congregation. Demands increase at church. Margins get thinner at home. The family feels guilty about conveying their needs. Time goes by. Tensions rise. Communication becomes strained.
It’s obvious what will happen if this family continues down this path.
Winning in ministry doesn’t mean losing at home. Nor does winning at home mean losing in ministry. How do we know? We know because our team at Rozzi and Associates gets to interact with ministers who are winning in both places.
Recently, we asked Steve Bolin, Kait Mangano, and Shawn Tully how they win in ministry and at home. Here are the highlights of our discussion:
What has been most helpful for you in balancing ministry and home life?
Steve: I try to always be aware that family time is not work time. My wife and kids deserve my undivided attention. Sometimes I will simply give my phone to my wife so I’m not tempted to work. Also, I try to never miss my kids’ sports or school events. Others can fill my place in ministry. No one can fill my place at home.
Kait: It’s been helpful to remember that ministry is a lifestyle. My husband signed up for it with me. As a couple, we’ve had to decide what our own ministry is. We need to grow and be challenged together as we live on mission for the Kingdom. We have found exciting and healthy ways to do that together in our home.
Shawn: I learned the value of saying, “Come with me,” to my kids when they were young. They got to see the good side of ministry early on. Having your children accompany you as you do ministry, especially one at a time, accomplishes so many things. It involves them. It blesses others. It makes memories. It trains them. Maybe more than anything else, it keeps them on your team.
“Others can fill my place in ministry. No one can fill my place at home.”
What factors have made balancing home and ministry difficult?
Steve: Trying to live by the whims of a ministry model that emphasizes the pastor and then failing to equip and empower others makes balance difficult. Also, I always regret failing to take advantage of the slower times of the church calendar to spend extra time with my family. And allowing people to have unlimited access to my time makes balance virtually impossible.
Kait: The temptation to be a work-a-holic has made it difficult in seasons. And, the desire to be readily available for everyone else can leave my husband with leftovers. That isn’t fair to him.
Shawn: There are occasions when timing just can’t be helped. You can’t predict when you’re going to have two funerals in one week and it happens to be the same week you’re hosting your son’s sleepover or that the wedding you agreed to officiate six months ago just happens to be the same weekend your daughter’s gymnastics meet gets scheduled. This can only be remedied by making sure to add quality time after the busy season subsides.
What advice would you give to someone struggling to find and maintain balance?
Steve: I’d give three pieces of advice. First, set aside a full day each week to spend away from work. If you have to use a part of that day on occasion, pay it back the next week. Second, ask your spouse regularly how they feel you are doing. It’s much easier to make regular course-corrections than giant u-turns. Finally, establish a regular pattern of prayer in which you ask God to make you a better spouse and parent and to help you remain sensitive to their needs.
Kait: My husband knows, up close and personal, the degree to which I’m demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit or how much emotional and mental energy I have for him at the end of the day. He can tell me when I’m not prioritizing him because I’m emotionally spent, mentally absent, or just plain tired and crabby. I’d encourage others to give their families permission to be uncomfortably honest about what they need. And find ways to lean on them for what you need, too.
Shawn: The best advice that I can give is to be intentional. You have to schedule quality time with your wife, your kids, and as a family. It communicates that they matter. It also gives you a legitimate reason when you have to tell someone from church why you’re unavailable.
What’s Your Story?
Your story doesn’t have to follow the same plot as many of the stories you’ve heard before. It is absolutely possible to win both in ministry and at home. And embracing God’s grace, increasing emotional intelligence, and listening to encouragement from those closest to you, you’ll discover that balance.
Steve Bolin is the Senior Minister at Thrive Church (re-launching in September, formerly Seerley Creek Christian Church) and his wife is the Administrative Assistant. They have two teenage kids.
Kait Mangano is the Connections + Care Pastor at Outlook Christian Church. She and her husband have been married for five years.
Shawn Tully is the Senior Minister at Dover Christian Church. He and his wife have two kids, one in college and another in high school.
Kevin Carr has served in a wide variety of pastoral leadership and operational roles at churches on the west side of Indianapolis. He now serves as a Career Coach for Rozzi and Associates. Along with his wife and son, Kevin lives in Avon, Indiana.