As IÂ look back at our calendar over the past 12 months, it’s easy to be puffed up.
We are the perfect familyÂ where I write interesting things, preach, lead worship, study, read, go cycling, play.Â Cheryl is the perfect housewife who bakes, sews, binds books, cooks, teaches the girls. It’s easy to rattle off what we’ve done and convince ourselves that being busy, doing stuff, going from one thing to another, means we have it all together.
But that’s not true.
That’s notÂ who we are as a family. We struggle with sin. We’re tempted like everyone to make good things ultimate things in our lives.Â We need to keep bringing ourselves, our idols, to the foot of the cross and find forgiveness and grace in Jesus.
So here is an honest reflection, and an invitation to pray with us and to encourageÂ one another.
One area that’s been a struggle for us in the last few monthsÂ is in balancing between church and family commitments. And this is an area where I’m the one most at fault. And so earlier this week,Â after the helter-skelter of organising conferences, planning induction services and all kinds of ministry stuff, it was good for Cheryl and I to sit and think through where we were at.
We got to reflect on many things, including:
- How easily I’ve saidÂ yes to ministry-related requests, even when I knew it was directly at the expense of serving the family.
- How easy it’s beenÂ forÂ date nights and family times to be put asideÂ in exchange for an important ministry task.
- How my heart is tempted to seeÂ up-front ministry as more spiritually formative than reading and praying at the dinner table.
- Wondering out loud if – Lord forbid – I was willing to sacrifice my children on the altar of ministry “success”.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, no less my best friend. It was difficult but good to wrestle with the truth: these are my temptations and struggles, fromÂ a heart that should delight in the love of Christ more than the praisesÂ of men, but is still “prone to wander”.
And perhaps they’re your struggles too. Whatever your vocation.
Maybe, like me, you’ve hidden behind your computer or phone screenÂ because it’s easier than resolving the argument with your wife or kids.
Maybe, like me, you’d prefer chatting with the someone who showers you with praise on Sunday morning, than chatting with your wife about what chores need to be done.Â
LastÂ Sunday, the elders of Howick Baptist commissioned Richard and Sam Cutforth into full-time service as Senior and Assistant Pastor respectively. During the commissioning, one of the elders read out 1 Timothy 3:1-7 to remind everyone of the characteristicsÂ of an overseer.Â It was verseÂ 4 and 5 that stuck out to both of us.
“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of Godâ€™s church?)”
This isn’t just for “elders”. This is a mark of aÂ mature Christian. Faithfulness toÂ the familyÂ -Â how I set my priorities in my home life, how I love Cheryl and the girls, how I serve them – all this determinesÂ how effective I am inÂ any kind ofÂ gospel ministry.
By God’s grace I hope I don’t forget this.