||Jonathan's Resource Ezine
Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, April 9, 2002
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WHEN MY WIFE HAD ENOUGH: Balancing Family and Ministry|
by Jonathan McKee
By Jonathan McKee
April 9, 2002
article is just a piece of an article that will be appearing in GROUP MAGAZINE
in the Fall.? For more information on GROUP MAGAZINE, check out their website
at:I?ll never forget the moment when my wife had HAD
ENOUGH!? She scooped up our kids and walked for the door . . . and she wasn?t
just going to the grocery store.
It was about 7 years ago.? My son was a
toddler and my daughter was barely a month or two old.? Ministry was going
incredible.?? Maybe that?s why I didn?t see it coming.
It was just a
typical Sunday afternoon.?? We finished the chaos of transporting all the kids
to church, a staff person dropped by to tell me that a kid accepted Christ, and
a mom called asking if I could talk with her daughter.? Despite my wife?s pleas
for help, I was off to rescue another family, not aware that mine needed
rescuing. That?s when she picked up the kids and gathered her things.
asked her where she was going.? She said ?I don?t know- but I can?t do this
anymore.?? And she started walking for the door.? I was shocked.? It was one of
those Alfred Hitchcock moments where the background slowly pulled back from the
foreground.? I had seen this familiar scene on movies and T.V., but never
thought it could happen to me.? Pinching myself, I asked for a clarification?
?Are you leaving me??? She didn?t even look at me- she just stopped and said, ?I
just need some time.?
I didn?t come to my senses until she was in the
garage loading up the kids.? I ran outside and literally fell on my knees,
begging her to stay.? The only thing that worked was when I promised her that we
would go in the house right then and I would make ANY change to my schedule that
she desired.? I was desperate.? I was willing to quit my job if she wanted me
to- a gesture she would have gladly accepted at this point.
So we went
inside, got the kids situated on the floor playing with the Ernie and Bert
jungle gym, I opened my planner . . . and we made a list of what was going to
change.? I consolidated staff meetings, moved the outreach programs out of my
house, blocked out Sunday afternoons and added a date night once a week to name
just a few . . . WE MADE SOME SERIOUS CHANGES.?? I still have the list.? I saved
it as a reminder of what I almost did.? I almost lost my family because of the
way my ministry ran me.
CONFUSING YOUR PRIORITIES
If you were
to walk up to a plumber who happened to be a Christian believer and asked him to
make a list of his priorities in life, it might look like this:
youth-workers often get this all confused.? Why?? Because we?re in the
ministry.? And since we?re in the ministry, we sometimes make our list like
1.? God/Ministry-job/students in need
What are the ramifications of this.? I?ll tell you what
they are.? They are losing your family because you told them that they need to
get in line behind every other needy kid in the city who doesn?t happen to have
WHERE?S THE BALANCE?
How do we balance family and
ministry?? Or maybe we should ask, "How can I love and nurture troubled kids
with out troubling and abandoning my own kids?"? That's a difficult balance to
On one side of the coin, as ministers, our entire family needs to
understand the call of the minister and be ready to make sacrifices for the
Lord.? Anyone in ministry knows that one of the biggest sacrifices is time.
Yet, on the other side of the coin, the minister must not neglect loving his or
her spouse and raising his or her children correctly.
God didn?t give us
a special license as youth workers to give our families the short end of the
stick. Before we can even lead, we need to make sure we?re raising our own kids
right.? We need to make sure that we?re loving our spouse, putting their needs
on our VIP list.?
It's obvious that we need to make our families a
priority.? The question is HOW?
STUFF I ?SHOULD? DO
it . . . life is full of balances.? And to make things worse, we are bombarded
every day with tasks we feel we should add onto our plate.? As youth workers, we
need to be cautious of getting over committed.? There are certain things in life
that we have to say "no" to.? But how do we know what to cut out?? Who's going
to get deleted?? My family?? My volunteer staff?
Bottom line: How do we
choose where to focus our time?
MANAGING OUR TIME
teaches time management seminars in the corporate world and he still uses my
favorite ?time management? illustration THE ROCKS IN THE JAR.? My dad takes out
a very large jar, over a gallon (several liters) in size.? He then talks about
many of the small tasks we have throughout the day.? He illustrates these tasks
with sand, pouring several inches (5-10 centimeters) in the bottom of the jar.
Then he brings up the tasks that come up throughout the day that can take up a
chunk of time.? These are represented by small pebbles, which he drops in the
jar on top of the sand.? Then he talks about the big time grabbers that we have
to do like work, school, chores, etc.? These are represented by a gravel rock.
Once these are poured in, over half the jar is filled.
At this point my
dad pulls out three large rocks, so big that all three of them might only fit in
the jar if it was empty.? These rocks represent our priorities in life.? Maybe
our family.? Our relationship with God.? Something else that we wouldn't want to
give up.? As he tries to get them in the jar, only one fits.? The second rock
sticks out the top and the third one doesn't even begin to fit.
removes all the elements from the jar and clues us in on the whole point of the
jar illustration.? "Put the big rocks in first!"? That's the secret.? Put the
big rocks in first.? What are the things that we don't want to get bumped from
our schedule.? Those are our big rocks.? Don?t put them off- put those in your
Then my dad drops the gravel in, which slowly fills in
the space around the rocks.? Then he drops in the pebbles which pinball down to
the bottom around the rocks and the gravel.? Then he drops in the sand, which
fills up all the excess space.? It all fits in the jar if we put the big rocks
in first.? If we go through the day running from chore to chore, trying to get
them all completed.? We tell our child we don?t have time to play legos with him
or help her with her homework (I can almost here Cat Stevens singing ?Cat?s in
the Cradle? right now) and continue on with our list.? But guess what?? If your
list is like mine, you still go to bed with items on your list.?? And you
neglected the big rocks.
Schedule your "big rocks" first.? My big rocks
are my family, my wife, time alone with God, my accountability group, and my
bible study.?? Schedule those in pen, and don?t try to erase them.? Stop your
list- your list can wait- and go roll on the floor with your kid.? Visit your
grandmother.? Cook a surprise meal for your spouse (NOT Mac-n-cheese!).
know a volunteer youth worker who dove into ministry 110%.?? He opened his house
to all the youth he worked with- I can?t remember stopping by his house and not
seeing youth group kids there.?? They were ALWAYS there.?? I would make a
comment like, ?Boy, do you have any time with just your family??? He always
implored that he couldn?t turn these kids away at his front door.?? ?They need
me.?? They don?t have a father of their own.??? So sure enough, his house was a
ministry house and his family was always? pushed aside.?? Eventually, one of his
own kids developed a problem of stealing and lying.? One of his daughters also
got pregnant at age 15.? Problems with his kids kept emerging- and where did
they go for help?? Another youth worker?s house?
Don?t push your own
family- your own priorities- aside.?? That kid at your door can wait.? You?ll be
able to discern the true emergency.?? But put the big rocks in first and don?t
move them out of the way.
PUTTING IT ALL INTO ACTION:
never took time to find what the big rocks are in your life, plan a day away.
Get alone, or with your spouse if you?re married, and ask yourself these big
- ????????How?s my relationship with God?? Do I really
devote personal time to him?? When can I devote time to him??? Who?s going to
keep me accountable to that?
*If you have kids*
- ????????How?s my relationship with my spouse??? Am I making
him or her a priority?? When?s the last time I surprised them with something
special??? When is one night a week that we will call date night?? (Even if you
can?t go out- a night by ourselves at home- swap babysitting with someone if you
Keep up the good work!? (And don?t be caught
singing ?. . . the boy was just like me.? The boy was just like me.? The
cat?s in the cradle . . .?)
- ????????When?s the last time I wrestled with my kids on the
floor, plopped them on my lap and read a book, or -if they?re older- took them
out for a soda and just listened?? Do I talk to my kids even 10 minutes a day?
How could I plan my schedule so I get at least 10 minutes a day with each
- ????????What hobby or area of personal growth can I develop?
When can I do this?
- ????????Am I going to die at age 52 like John Candy??? Do I
look like John Candy?? Do my arteries look as clogged as Dennis Leary?s?? What
can I do to take care of my body better?
- ????????What is one time consumer in my life that I might
think about cutting?? How many hours of TV do I watch?? How much time do I waste
on the internet?? What step can I make to cut this time waster?
- ????????Besides any of the above things, is there something
I?d love to look back on when I am age 60 and say, ?I?m glad I did that!?? (eg:
run a marathon, start a ministry, lead my uncle to Christ, go on a missions trip
to Mexico, take a family RV trip across the country)? How could I accomplish
that goal?? What can I do today to start that ball
FOR MORE ON MANAGING OUR MINISTRY
SEE JONATHAN?S ARTICLE
PLANNING AHEAD IN OUR
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL USE OF DUCT TAPE: More kids taped to the wall!
Those of you
who?ve received the EZINE for a while remember the article when we told you
about the duct tape challenge (on my UP FRONT GAMES PAGE)
Michelle just e-mailed me with a success story.
night we tried the duct tape challenge. We taped two teens to the wall_weighing
close to the same weight. One of our challengers stayed up for only 10 sec. The
other challenger, Robert, stayed up for 9mins 15 sec. We took lots of pics.
Robert is 13 yrs old and weighs about 80 lbs. He told us that he could of stayed
up longer but his hands were turning different colors. Thanx for your awesome
ideas!!!? --Don and Michelle?
Hey Don and Michelle- easy with the duct
tape next time- no more cutting off circulation OKAY!!!?? ?Jonathan????? :)
TOUGH CHOICES: Equipping Students to be making good choices about sex, drugs and music
I don?t usually pump local events, but if you?re
within driving distance of Sacramento, CA, you don?t want to miss TOUGH CHOICES
at the end of this month.? Myself, Jim Burns, and Phil Chalmers are tackling the
For those of you out of the area- I?ll be taking the sex
seminar on tour soon.? We?ll keep you posted.
THE GOOD WORK!
If you have any other youth ministry ideas you want to
share, please email meGod
Jonathan R. McKee
have a speaker for your next camp or retreat?
Check out Jonathan's
SPEAKERS page and who's recommending him!
Jonathan McKee is president of The Source for Youth Ministry and
author of the new book "Do They Run When They See You Coming? Reaching Out to Unchurched
Teenagers." (CLICK HERE FOR
THE BOOK) Jonathan speaks
and trains across the country and provides
free online resources, training, & ideas for youth workers at