Let me see if you can relate to this—You come home, burdened, tired, and stressed from a rough day of ministry. The evening is filled with you snapping at your family and making negative comments about coworkers or church members.
Yeah, we’ve all been there. But we don’t like it. And we don’t like who we become to our family.
So, what do we do? How do we lead our family when ministry is stressful? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Admit you are going through a difficult time.
Don’t leave your family in the dark. They can tell that something is wrong, that you are not yourself. Attempting to hide the stress that can arise in ministry will not work.
Instead, communicate with your family. Let them know the day, week, or month has been difficult. Give them the opportunity to empathize and care for you. The grace and support your family provides can help you refocus and reenergize for another day of ministry.
2. Don’t talk negatively about others.
You will be tempted to speak adversely about the source of your stress, which is often a coworker or church member. Lead your family by avoiding critical words. Such negative talk can hurt your family members’ perception of, not just the individual, but the ministry at large. They may develop an “us versus them” mentality and could begin to think ministry is about organizational or relational wins and losses. So, what do you talk about? God and His mission.
3. Keep the comments centered on God and His mission.
Focusing your words on the ministry to which you were called will significantly impact your family. Instead of hearing “us versus them,” they will hear “God and His mission is worth it.”
Centering the comments on God’s mission does not minimize the real stress you’re experiencing. Centering the comments on God’s mission during times of real stress demonstrates to your family the importance of loving God’s people, even when they don’t love you.
4. Pray with your family.
Teach your family that the first response to a difficult time is prayer. Pray for the church. Pray for the source of your stress. Pray that God will use this challenge to further His Kingdom and His glory. Pray for wisdom. Pray for your family. Allow your family to pray for you. Lead on your knees.
Ministry can be stressful. During difficult days and seasons, lead your family well. Point them to the mission. Point them to the God who died for the one (or the many) who caused your stress.