LifeWay Pastors is glad to welcome Ryan Rice, Sr. as a new contributor. Ryan, a graduate of Dillard University, is pastor of Connect Church of Algiers in the New Orleans area. Ryan and his wife Seane’ planted Connect Church in 2013 after Ryan served several years as a Ministry Assistant at Bethany Church. The Rices have four children.
I can still remember when our first son came into the world. Although the birth didn’t go as planned, my wife and I still rejoiced that our baby was healthy and we could begin our new life together. My wife’s recovery was a tough process. She needed me to be stay with her for encouragement and support until we discharged from the hospital.
I wish the story could end there. I wish I could say I was the dutiful spouse who remained by her side, but sadly this was not the case. As a young minister working for a large church I thought my family came first, but in reality the ministry was my first love. The moment a call came in that I was needed at the church, I left my wife and went running to “serve.” This was one of the more regrettable moments of my life and I am thankful my wife forgave me. Since that time, I’ve learned several things young pastors or those starting in ministry can do in order to give your best to your family.
Many pastors struggle with being people pleasers. The desire to serve can turn into finding our identity, worth and value in those whom we serve rather than Jesus. In many instances we end up saying yes to everything and no to the most valuable things.
Learning to set clear boundaries starts with knowing what you value and where your limits are. If your time with Jesus is important (and it is) don’t allow anything disrupt it; set time with the Lord and keep it. When it comes to your family, set healthy boundaries you won’t cross.
Leave your phone at the door.
Yes, I know we are so important that we have to keep our phone with us 24/7. We check emails, texts, and social media. However, when was the last time you looked into your wife’s eyes or wrestled with your kids on the floor? Is your screen time more than your actual face time with your family? When our children have to say, “Put your phone down and play with me,” something is seriously wrong. Leave your phone at the door and enjoy those whom God has placed in front of you. In fact, it may relieve the stress from your day.
Love and date your spouse.
The Bible tells us to enjoy the wife of your youth. Sadly, many of us we often allow life to take away the joy in our marriages. Ministry can be tough and take a toll on your marriage, but it is your job to fight against that. Calendaring date nights are a great way to combat that. Even if money is tight, get creative and date your wife. One day the kids will be gone and it will be just you two. The best woman for you is not found on a television screen, video or in your office. She’s the woman at your house.
Set time for family devotionals.
Not only does your church need a shepherd, but your family does as well. There are many days where I am more focused on loving and reaching those outside my home and miss sitting with my wife and kids to pray and seek God together. I’m not suggesting you take 2 hours for this, but enough time to share the word, pray and praise God together.
Reset, relax and exercise.
If I am honest, this is an area I struggle with. I can go and never slow down, often creating unhealthy rhythms in my life and ministry. If Jesus took time daily to pull away and be alone with the Father, as well as rest, how much more should we?
Are you listening to your own body? The anxiety you may be facing could be your body saying slow down and make some changes. Instead of taking 30 minutes to scroll through social media or emails in the morning, replace this with a brisk walk around your neighborhood. One pastor friend shared with me how once a quarter he takes a few days to get away in order to rest and seek God for the upcoming months. Since ministry is a marathon and not a sprint, we must be conditioned for the long haul.
Pastor, God has blessed you with one family and one life. God has called us to lead, love and serve well for His glory. As you move forward to make the necessary changes to see your personal and family life flourish, trust in the grace of God to enable you to live for His glory and not your own. The change may not happen in one day or one month, but small changes over a long period of time will help you give the very best to your family. So why not start today?