5 Practical Tips to Balance Ministry and Family - Dare 2 Share
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

5 Practical Tips to Balance Ministry and Family

How to lead with love in all areas of your calling.



I have the privilege of leading an amazing and unique small group of guys, and I’m incredibly fortunate to have one of the best co-leaders by my side.

Let me share some insights about my group: They are inquisitive and ask thought-provoking questions, they know how to have a great time together, and they are not shy about belting out tunes on a road trip. Sharing the Gospel with them, leading them to Christ, and being their leader is an absolute joy—made even better because I get to do it alongside my incredible co-leader.

I’m talking not about a youth small group, however, but about my family—my three boys and my wife. As a husband and dad, my family is my priority in ministry.

When I started in youth ministry, I was single and living alone. I was out of the house nearly every night of the week connecting with students and parents at games or school functions. I could give my total focus to my ministry because any off-ministry time was mine alone. I was being faithful in using my singleness well for the Lord. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without considering anyone else, and I chose to focus on building a Gospel Advancing ministry.

After I got married, and again after I had kids, I had to shift my understanding of what it means to thrive in my relational priorities. First, I’m a Christian. Then, I’m a husband. Next, I’m a father. My three boys come before my other students in my role as a minister. If the marriage between a husband and wife reflects the glory and love of Christ toward His bride (the Church) then it’s a God-glorifying good to prioritize my marriage and my kids above my student ministry. I can get another job, but as a Christian, I have one bride and one family.

I have to be faithful to them and trust that the Lord will use my faithfulness in one area of life to produce faithfulness in another. Everything that makes me a good husband and dad will make me a better student minister, and everything that makes me an influential minister needs to be done in my family first. Here are some ways I try to do that.

1. Be home for dinner and bedtime.

I ensure that I’m not out every night, and when I am I do my best to get home early enough for quality family time. Although I attend student games and events, I have an internal alarm that reminds me to head home for dinner and bedtime. Since I can’t be present at every event, I‘ve trained and equipped my adult volunteers to prioritize building relationships with the students, including attending games and events in the evening. Our students need more adults in their lives anyway, in addition to me.

2. Be purposeful with my family.

Disciple-making isn’t a process that happens by osmosis: Simply being present and next to my kids doesn’t advance the Gospel to them. When I’m home, I’m on a mission. My Cause Circle at home has my three boys in it, and I pray for, care for, and continually share the Gospel with my boys. I connect with my wife, my co-leader, and show her great appreciation with cups of coffee and nice meals—we call those “dates”—and times when we pray for each other and carry each other’s burdens.

3. Take days off.

I make sure to take days off whenever I can. For instance, I once took a random Thursday off to attend my son’s field day. In addition, I’ve told my boss that it would be helpful for me to have compensation days after retreats, camps, and mission trips so that I could spend time with my family and recuperate. The church and student ministry won’t crumble when I take days off. I use all my paid time off (PTO) days, and I never work on Mother’s Day.

4. Turn off my phone.

When I’m at home, I use the Do Not Disturb feature on my phone. This lets me focus on spending quality time with my wife and boys without interruptions from texts or phone calls. My time with my family is precious and should be cherished. While I understand that emergencies can arise, I prioritize being fully present with my loved ones. My wife is incredibly supportive of my role in the ministry, and she understands that there are times when I need to be available for urgent matters. However, unless it’s a genuine emergency, I prefer to keep my phone usage to a minimum at home.

5. Plan the ministry calendar with my wife.

A few years ago, I began planning my ministry year 18 months in advance. This proactive approach has proved to be incredibly beneficial. I involve my wife in the process by allowing her to review the plans and provide input, especially because she also works a full-time job. This method allows her to be aware of upcoming missions trips, camps, retreats, and other events well in advance of them occurring so she can navigate her responsibilities as well. Nothing on my calendar surprises her, and her support and prayer have been invaluable as I navigate these important activities.

The “narrow road” in the Christian life has natural boundaries where life can thrive and drop-offs where it doesn’t. What are those for you in your ministry? How are you protecting and prioritizing your time with your family? How are you being faithful to the primary small group you’re supposed to lead? Those are the questions you should ask yourself, whether you’re single and leading a ministry or have a family.

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