Being a pastor is a leadership role, and, as I learned recently, there is the threat that our roles might clash and the choosing of wrong priorities can get the better of us. A while ago, on a day when I had my own family concerns to think about, there were prevalent ministry pressures also. Sometimes I find that I have to discern the needs of two or more situations and then make decisions based on the urgency and importance of those differing needs.
It is always a choice what we do with our time, and we need to be responsible for the choices we make. Family must always come first, but it is easy to think that other people can’t survive without your ministry. Such an assumption is based in pride – that we are more important than we actually are, or that what we offer is indispensible.
On the occasion I’m talking about I decided to prioritise a ministry ‘priority’ whilst in the company of my wife, when my wife definitely needed my undivided attention. She was unimpressed and I was equally unimpressed that she ‘didn’t seem to get’ the importance of the work of ministry – pride!
My wife let me know in no uncertain terms that I was out of line. I provided quiet resistance, thinking she was the one who was out of line. But, then, the Spirit of God revealed my folly to me.
My wife needed me. Was I not a child-of-God first, husband second, father third, son fourth, and minister fifth? Sweet revelation. When pride is revealed, there’s a choice. Do we get stuck in the stubbornness of resisting God’s silent rebuke, or do we pour contempt on our pride and repent?
Revelation of sin should convict us to repent of that sin.
In my situation I quickly had to back pedal and convince my wife that I understood that she was right and that I was wrong; my priorities and choices were all wrong in this instance.
Once I had made a genuine and committed apology, and I had started to demonstrate more care for my wife, I felt God gently restoring me. It all depended on the care of my wife’s spirit.
God is deeply interested in how we care for others. We can never justify hurting people. If the Holy Spirit reveals us in sin, he gives us the opportunity to repent. Restoration should always follow repentance. It does with God.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.
Credit for inspiring this article must go to Patrick Lencioni’s “The Most Dangerous Mistakes Leaders Make,” delivered at the 2014 Willow Creek Association, Global Leadership Summit.