Worship Notes

"How Much Is Too Much?"

I was thinking about the responsibilities of a minister and it occurred to me to ask the question, "How much does a minister need to give of himself to his ministry?"  What I am about to say is not terribly popular in a lot of churches, but I think it is true, nonetheless.

I got to thinking about a few Scriptures such as Acts 20:28 which says, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock..."  Notice that it says first to take heed unto yourselves first, then worry about the flock.  We must understand that if we do not take care of ourselves (spiritually, physically, emotionally) we can't minister from a point of strength.  We minister from a point of weakness.

In Philippians 2:25-30, Paul speaks of a minister named Epaphroditus, who was "nigh unto death" from the work of the ministry.  He almost worked himself to death, literally.  When I was in Bible college, I heard instructors warning us to "take heed" to ourselves, and to be careful not to work ourselves "nigh unto death".  But, how much is too much?  Where should the line be drawn?

In simple terms let me just say this...God first, then family, then the ministry.  Your personal relationship with Jesus is first and foremost important.  The problem is that people sometimes tend to mix relationship with God and ministerial duty.  In fact, they are separate.  Your first responsibility is to your own personal walk with God.  In other words, your prayer life, your personal devotion time, study of the Word, personal praise and worship time, etc.

It's your personal time with the Lord that empowers you to take on life's other challenges, duties, and responsibilities.  Those responsibilities include your responsibility to your family, your job, your ministry.  You should have personal worship time on top of what you do in church.  You should have personal Bible study time that has absolutely nothing to do with a sermon or exhortation you are working on.  These things are what build you as a believer.

Next comes your family.  Too many churches ask (perhaps not in so many words) their people to sacrifice their family life for the work of the ministry.  I've seen ministers put their kids up in boarding schools, hire nannies, etc. just to give themselves more time to devote to their ministry.  Consequently, we have the reputation of "Preacher's kids" too often becoming rebellious backsliders.  It's because priorities have been mixed up.  Divorce is almost as prevalent among ministers as it is in the world.  This ought not be so!

I believe that Godly families are as important, if not more important, than "successful" churches.  The world needs to see what a Godly family is, more than they need to see your Easter Cantata or Christmas play!  We don't need more "programs" in our churches.  We need people to walk in the power, love, and blessing that God has provided for us.  We need Godly families!

Lastly in this list is your responsibility to your church.  Pastors, if you are reading this, do not allow your people to become so overwhelmed by ministerial work that they lose sight of what is truly important.  Praise and Worship Leaders, the same goes for you.  Once a week rehearsals should be more than enough to take care of your music ministry's needs, if they are conducted properly and efficiently.

I once heard of a church who encouraged one of their employees to leave his "ungodly" wife because she wanted her husband home more often.  I knew of a church that required their worship team to make three services, two two-hour rehearsals, and one prayer meeting a week.  That's too much!

At our church, our Pastor is so adamant about having a proper family life that we don't have a Sunday night service.  He encourages us to spend Sunday nights with our families.  And let me tell you, we have some of the most awesome families I've ever seen!  (Yes, even the teenagers!)

Let's face it...ministry is oftentimes stressful.  And sometimes we get so caught up with the work that we forget to stop and smell the roses.  We forget to take the time for the things that make life worth living.  We neglect ourselves, our families, our friends...all in the name of Christ!  Let's not give God a bad name by letting him take the blame for our own short-sightedness.  Take some time out for yourself and your family.  That's what's really important anyway!  Don't worry, the work will still be there when you get back!  God bless!