No matter how many ministry goals you set for 2019, you must learn to manage your life and your home first. While nobody is good at everything, the Bible instructs every pastor to be proficient at self-care and family-care. See these two verses from 1 Timothy (emphasis added):
“If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, CSB).
“Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers,” (1 Timothy 4:16, CSB).
Here are the four most common ways I have observed church leaders mismanaging their lives, homes, and churches:
1. Blowing Their Money
The mismanagement of money has wrecked many ministries and families. Pastors have earned a poor reputation in this area and are even considered a loan risk to many bankers.
We all make money mistakes. Sadly, the norm in America is to spend $1.26 for every dollar we earn. We can do better than “normal.” Statistics show that 44% of Americans do not have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency, and 33% of Americans have $0 saved for retirement (23% have saved between $1 and $10,000).
As disciple-makers, we need to practice discipleship through basic stewardship. The only place you get everything you want is at your grandparents’ house. If you need help managing your finances, ask someone who is already doing it well.
2. Wasting Their Time
Time is not money; it is more important than money.
Manage your time as well as your money this year by consistently budgeting it. A budget is merely a plan, so find a plan that works best for you. There are many helpful and affordable tools available to us.
A person should think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God. In this regard, it is required that managers be found faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:1-2 CSB)
Is discipleship without discipline really discipleship at all? Manage your time and your life by owning and controlling your calendar this year.
3. Ignoring Their Health
As you finish off the Christmas goodies this week, you might be thinking about how you can get healthier next year. We must heed God’s direction to “pay close attention to your life” by taking better care of God’s temples.
I got four fillings last spring because I had not been flossing regularly. I did not blame my dentist for my expensive cavities because he and others had dogged me about the importance of flossing for years. I had simply ignored them, to my peril.
If you are serious about loving God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength—set and share some realistic health goals. Perhaps you can start by simply getting an annual physical or dental checkup. Join a fitness class. Start walking a couple of times a week with your spouse. There are so many ways to manage your health, but you would be wise to start with one or two.
4. Being Passive About Purity
I’m working on the assumption that everyone who reads this post wants to stay sexually pure. I am equally convinced that everyone—including pastors and other church leaders—is being tempted to become sexually impure. I hate to break the bad news to you, but you will never age-out of this battle.
This afternoon I will meet with one of my two accountability partners. We are walking through a book together about purity, and in a later post I will share what we have learned. I have another one 700 miles away who has helped me stay on the road to sexual integrity since we were teenagers.
Fighting that battle alone is dangerous, naïve, and preventable. You are not hopeless in this struggle unless you are struggling alone. Your New Year’s goal may be a phone call away.
Manage your life and home better next year by identifying your biggest blind spots, then prayerfully taking your first step forward. Your life, ministry, and family will be better off for it. The stakes could not be higher as we consider the collateral blessings of success and the collateral damage of failure. “…in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Want to see more from Mark? Check out his other LifeWay Voices posts: