Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Achieving and Maintaining Ministerial Balance (Part 2 of 3)

     My family is by far my most important ministry and my greatest mission field. I cannot be a faithful minister of the gospel while neglecting my God-given family obligations. Even though I may be doing a lot of good work for the Lord and ministering to numerous people, if my family is lost in the process I am a miserable failure (cf. 1 Samuel 2:12; 3:13). Never have I heard a preacher bemoan the fact that he has given too much time and attention to his family. However, I am personally aware of several who have suffered strained or broken marriages or have lost their kids to the world because they were too busy doing “the Lord’s work” at the expense of being husbands and fathers.
     If I am married and have children, to borrow Harry Truman’s adage, “The buck stops here.” In other words, the primary responsibility for my family’s well being has been placed on my shoulders (Ephesians 5:23–6:4). When the inevitable conflicts arise, instead of automatically pointing the finger I need to be asking, “What have I done or failed to do to contribute to these problems, and what do I need to be doing to help resolve them?” It is blatant hypocrisy to teach or counsel others to obey God’s directives for the home if I am not obedient myself.
     “But if anyone is not providing for his own, and especially for his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).1 How does this passage apply to me? If I furnish my family a place to sleep and clothes to wear and sufficient funds in the grocery budget, have I satisfied this divine expectation? Surely providing for my family involves more than just material necessities. Am I supplying love, security, a good example, encouragement, discipline, spiritual leadership, affection, affirmation, and quality time and attention? 
     In order for my car to operate to its full potential and to be of any value to me or anyone else, regular fueling, maintenance, and repairs are necessary. Otherwise, it breaks down and serves no functional purpose. The same holds true for preachers. Jesus, one of the busiest men who ever lived, recognized that occasions of rest and rejuvenation are necessary (cf. Mark 6:31).
     My physical health suffers when I pay little attention to diet and exercise, thus rendering me less and less useful in the Lord’s service. Just like my automobile, my body isn’t going to run indefinitely, and without proper care it will not function efficiently, and it probably won’t wait for a convenient time to break down.
     My mental health suffers when my outward focus significantly exceeds my inward and upward focus. Being continually overloaded and overwhelmed by external factors, with little opportunity for healthy diversions, eventually leads to a breaking point. The stress, pressures, and time-demands can be relieved by hobbies, recreation, and rest. Yes, even preachers need the occasional break.
     My spiritual health suffers when nearly all of my Bible study is for the benefit of others, while my own spirit is malnourished. Personal devotion is vital to keeping the proverbial batteries recharged. I cannot be “equipped for every good work” without a steady diet of spiritual sustenance (2 Timothy 3:14-17). 
     The Bible has always presented a balanced message that includes both promises and warnings, blessings and responsibilities, righteousness and sin, mercy and justice, heaven and hell, faith and obedience, etc. Declaring the whole counsel of God, therefore, calls for doctrinal balance that considers all sides of divine instruction and not just one to the virtual exclusion of the other.
     As a biblically balanced preacher I will always strive to say and do the right things in the right ways for the right reasons. Doctrinal balance particularly compels me to proclaim the right message with the right attitude in the right manner (2 Timothy 2:24-25; 4:2). Further, I must appreciate that faithfulness and godly living are to precede anything I attempt to verbally profess (1 Timothy 4:6-16).
     Doctrinal balance ensures that I am committed to the middle road of truth without compromise and without veering to the reckless left or the radical right. Controversy is not something to eagerly seek out or intentionally and unnecessarily generate. But when it does occur, and it certainly will, how does the Lord expect me to respond? Suffice it to say that doctrinal balance has no place for timidity, evasion, or unconcern (cf. Romans 16:17; Galatians 6:1; Jude 3). 
--Kevin L. Moore

     1 Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations in English are the author’s own translation.
     2 This brief section is a condensed and modified version of the author’s “Training Biblically Balanced Preachers,” in Gospel Journal 7.6 (2006): 14-15.
Published in So You Want to Be a Preacher, ed. David Powell. Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman University, 2013: 220-29.

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