My friend Jerry Drace recently wrote this for Baptist Press. It is an important reminder to all of us who serve in church leadership:
A young lady approached me with a solemn, somber expression in her brown eyes, trying to hold back the tears, as I left the church auditorium’s platform after extending the invitation. “I have a personal request,” she said in a trembling voice. “Would you please speak to my daddy while you are here?”
After inquiring about the reason, the tears began to flow as she said, “I am a cheerleader and my dad has not been to any of my games this season and my brother plays on the team as well. And he has not taken Mom out on a date in over six months. She is really hurting and needs his attention.”
I saw the sadness and pain in her face. Here was a young lady in high school leading cheers for hundreds during the week and what she needed was for her father to cheer for her. The concern for her brother and mother indicated that family was very special in her list of priorities.
I told her I would be happy to ask the pastor if we could take time to visit with her father during the weekend. She looked at me with a degree of apprehension and said, “My father is the pastor.”
Since 1993, my wife Becky and I have conducted some 300 Hope for the Home Conferences. I have heard many preachers’ kids make a similar request. My father, J.T. Drace, was a pastor for 60 years and I know that look in the eyes of PKs when I see it.
It is amazing how many pastors spend time pastoring their congregations and fail to pastor their families. One pastor told me on the way to the airport with tears streaming down his cheeks, “I spend more time with the other children and teens in my church than I do my own children.” A pastor of a mega-church shared with me how he came home one night from one of those “important committee meetings” to find a note taped to the door of the refrigerator which read, “I have taken the children and gone. And you will never miss us.” Suddenly the size of his church didn’t matter, or all the boards on which he served. He succeeded in scaling the pastoral and denominational peaks but failed to reach the summit with his family.
For all of us who have answered God’s call to serve Him in a professional capacity, may we be ever mindful that someone very close to us may have a personal request.
(To learn more about Jerry’s ministry, visit http://www.hopeforthehome.org)
Dr. Sam Totman currently serves as the Director of External Relations in the College of Christian Studies and Clamp Divinity School. Before joining Anderson University, Sam served in several churches as a youth pastor as well as an education pastor. He earned his Ed.D. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a research emphasis on Technology Integration in Ministry. He teaches in the area of youth ministry and media ministry to help the next generation of ministers meet the challenges of the 21st-century ministry.