Friday, December 08, 2006

Build your family before building a ministry

by Ronnie Floyd

I believe that building your family is more important than building
your ministry. ... Today it stands as probably the only legacy I will
ever see this side of heaven. I would not trade anything for it that
ministry offers.

Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark.
and author of 10 Things Every Minister Needs to Know

I was a very young pastor in a growing church. I had my academic
degrees behind me and was engaged in my pastoral venture — hook, line,
and sinker! I was in my late 20s and had been married for just under
10 years. Josh was 4 or 5 years old and Nick was only 1 or 2 years
old. I was zooming and filled with life, vitality, and vision.

God was doing some marvelous things in our church. We had seen it come
alive with great passion and fire for evangelism. Everything was

Heaven was happening on Sunday, but trouble returned on Monday.
Meetings were dominant in the church world back then, and they seemed
to occur nightly and continuously for pastors in that season of
American church life. Jeana had been raised in a pastor's home, so she
understood the challenges of church and family to a degree, but I was
exhausted and my family was caught in the middle of it all.

I would hurry home around 5 p.m. in order to get back to an early
evening meeting with some committee or group of leaders. My family was
very young, and the church was growing. I knew this was taking its
toll on Jeana and me. The boys were way too young to feel it or know
it, but I was neglecting them due to all of the demands on my life.

One night on my journey home, I came to a stop sign. I believe I could
take you to it today. It was like the Holy Spirit spoke to me in that
still, small convicting voice. I am not sure what occurred, but I am
confident of what I told the Lord at that very moment. I said, "Lord,
I will stop sacrificing my family on the altar of ministry success."
That event and moment has shaped my life and family to this very day.
Had God not taught me that lesson at a young age, it might have been
catastrophic later in ministry, marriage, and life.

I believe that building your family is more important than building
your ministry. Not only have I believed it, I have lived it. Today it
stands as probably the only legacy I will ever see this side of
heaven. I would not trade anything for it that ministry offers.

As I have evaluated our journey in balancing marriage, family, and
ministry, I have narrowed the journey to seven values that we observed
in our family. These seven values were things we esteemed, believed
in, championed, and rewarded continually.

Value prayer
Since we are ministers, this sounds like something you would expect
another minister to say or try to prove he does, but make no mistake
about it: You will not succeed in marriage, family, and ministry
without prayer.

For at least two decades I have prayed Ephesians 6:10–18 – the armor
of God – over my family daily. I call their names out to God
specifically and then place the armor on them piece by piece. I do
this for all of our immediate family. We are in a war. Satan goes
after your family with great intensity. Therefore, stand your ground
in Jesus' name by placing the armor of God on your family in prayer

Also, we prayed with our children before they went to school every day
without exception. I encourage you to pray through the various crises
or situations you face as a family. Also, pray with your spouse
nightly. Jeana and I trade off nightly as to which one of us will pray
before we go to sleep.

Value marriage
The greatest thing you can do for your family is to have a spiritual
and enriching marriage relationship. If you want your children to make
the right decisions in life – especially in relationships – then you
have to have a healthy and godly relationship with your spouse.

When you spend uninterrupted time with your mate consistently and
weekly, your mate and your children know that your family is more
important than your ministry.
Ronnie Floyd

One way I do this is by taking Friday off every week to spend with
Jeana. I've done this ever since "the stop sign moment" I mentioned
earlier. It is our day, and I attempt to stay away from the office.
When you spend uninterrupted time with your mate consistently and
weekly, your mate and your children know that your family is more
important than your ministry.

Value church
The minister and his family need the church in their lives as much as
any other family needs the church. I always told the church when my
children were young, "Pray for my children to grow up loving Jesus and
the church." My children love Jesus and the church. Both Josh and Nick
married young ladies who love the church. Josh and Kate, as well as
Nick and Meredith, will raise children who love Jesus and the church,
beginning with Peyton.

Yet Josh and Nick always knew they came before the church. When Josh
was experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in the
13-year-old World Series, I did not preach or attend a Sunday night
service which I had been scheduled to do.

In fact, the only game I ever remember missing was when I was asked to
preach to Promise Keepers in Washington, D.C. – before a million men.
I almost chose not to do it, but a friend advised me to talk to my
boys and ask them what they thought I should do. Both immediately
said, "Go do that!"

Value mentoring with gentle accountability
Teach your children to walk with Christ. Teach your children how to
have a daily time with God. Start when they first begin to read words.
Mentor them to lead and influence others to the degree of their
God-given giftedness.

Mentor them in their relationships as well. Do not let them become
culture-driven, but encourage them, in a godly way, to act differently
if God asks them to do so. At times I would intervene in my children's
relationships and re-direct them to others. Why? We knew if Satan
captured our children, it would happen through their friends or their
dating relationships.

Value consistency
Consistency builds godly children. Inconsistency builds the opposite.
You must be consistent in your leadership as a parent. You must be
consistent in your discipline. You must be consistently honest with
them as well. When you make a parenting or marital mistake (and you
will), admit it to your children.

Also, pick a time and develop a consistent time together with your
children. As our boys got older this became tougher, but we tried to
make Sunday at lunch a time when we would always go out somewhere or
stay at home and watch a football game together.

Value communication
Build a climate in your family where your children can tell you
anything. This means you let them finish without interruption or
explosion. Always affirm that you love them unconditionally. I still
tell my children, "I love you." I still kiss them on the cheek or the
neck, as well as embrace them. I let them know early on that they did
not have a bigger cheerleader than me. I believe beyond "I love you,"
the greatest words a dad can say to his children are the words, "I
believe in you."

Value vacations
Time away throughout the year is valuable to your family. In those
early years, it was limited due to finances. I believe it is also
important that as your children grow up you ensure that every vacation
is not going to be spent with other family. They need time with you
away from others.

One more time
Jeana and I are not perfect and do not have perfect children or a
perfect grandchild. However, what we do have is a healthy family, a
family full of love and grace. We want to be together.

I believe this can occur for any minister and his family if he values
the right things. Just one more time to set the record straight:
Building your family is more important than building your church!

Remember: "If anyone does not know how to manage his own household,
how will he take care of God's church?" (1 Tim. 3:5)

This article was adapted from Ronnie Floyd's book, 10 Things Every
Minister Needs to Know.

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