Hating Your Family For Jesus

Full-time ministry isn't for everyone. Though some would say that it's the true calling of all Christians, I believe it's the calling of a select few. The elite. The exceptional. Because it requires a degree of commitment unparalleled to any other career.

Imagine being on-call, 24/7. Now laugh at those people. How lazy are they: sitting on their couches, watching TV, just waiting for their phones to ring. Full-time ministry is more than being on-call; it's about being ever present.

If you don't live on the premises of your organization, you only go home long enough for one REM cycle. You don't get to have a personal life because you are but a vapor to God. So make it count! No distractions, no entanglements, and no priorities higher than kingdom building.

That includes family. In fact, Jesus said to hate them compared to him. Do you really love him? Then tell your daughter to quit whining about her homework and help you do something that matters. Like stuffing your monthly newsletter mailers.

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I hope no ministry actually acts that way, but I'm convinced that many think like this. It's subtle. And often clothed in language like, "you need to have a servant's heart." Which is just a non-sensical way of guilting people into prioritizing the needs of the ministry by claiming divine appointment. Not unlike the circular logic of most other Christianese phrases.

Because who can argue with placing the needs of the kingdom above your own? The world is full of lost people who need Jesus. Therefore, any moment not devoted to saving those souls is a selfish, ungodly one. Do you want them to suffer God's wrath? Then let your daughter fail math. Her success in life isn't worth the life of another. The ministry must come first; it's simply a matter of priorities. Well, in that case, allow me to refresh our priorities: the family is our first ministry.

The apostle Paul dealt with a similar situation in Ephesus. His son in the faith, Timothy, was the pastor there and was dealing with some unruly young women who were abusing church resources. So Paul offers Timothy some valuable advice: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith" (1 Timothy 5:8).

I think this is why he says earlier that an elder must be, "...one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)" (1 Timothy 3:4-5). Furthermore, how can anyone who places work before family be qualified for church leadership?

I think that's the key to all of this. Work is just work, regardless of its profit or not-for-profit status. Work is good and in a sense, whatever we do is intended to be for God's glory (or if you insist, intended to be ministry).

But then it follows that there is no greater or more important work than another. Which means that we can't hold others hostage to the individual calling God has placed on us, just because we're the director or CEO. On the other hand, we all share the same priority calling of caring for our families. And to misunderstand this, is to misunderstand our faith.