EP 116 – Family Ministry Balance
JimBo and Bob take some time to answer a question submitted by Brad Whiteford on Facebook about how to balance family and ministry.
- Take a day off
- Attend family events
- Family comes first
- Date your wife
- Get up early or stay up late to make sure you are fully present when with family
- Figure out how to lead at home spiritually
- Give your wife freedom to serve how she feels called
- Take all your vacation time
- Create great family memories
- Make sure your kids and wife know that you are in their corner and they are a priority to you
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp back out again, still recovering from all the seafood that we ate in new Orleans and celebrating, the beginning of the, the whole season of jumping into all the Christmas stuff, advent, devotionals going and fun, things like that. And Bob, you should feel particularly privileged to get to be, in my presence virtually right now.
Cause I’m kind of a big.
Bob Bickford: Jimbo you, you are a big deal. You’re becoming less of a bigger, bigger deal, but, but you are a big deal. So is there some, something that happened that we should know about?
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, So in our local newspaper, if you, uh, look at the link that we’ll put in the show notes, you’ll see that my family has made it into the local news.
Bob Bickford: live in a little bit of a rough neighborhood. So this isn’t one of those issues. Is it?
JimBo Stewart: No, it isn’t all though. My kids did get questioned by a truancy officer last week, uh, while they were going for a walk, [00:01:00] my kids are homeschooled and my son cash wants to do a little exercise. And so they were like jogging around the neighborhood. well we live right next to a middle school and an elementary school.
And so the. One of the truancy officers, you know, so all these kids that probably look like they belong in school and, questioned them for a little while what you got to see my personalities and Audrey’s personalities play out in interesting ways. And our kids were trip was terrified and ashamed and felt like he had done something wrong and cache just thought it?
And so you can take your guests at which, which, which, which parent gave those characteristics of the kids. But no, we ended up in the news because. we mentioned before that we did this, gingerbread competition where we created a Lego masters TV set themed, gingerbread thing. Right. And so there’s this annual conference.
And Jacksonville called the, gingerbread extravaganza and people make, I mean, unbelievably ornate [00:02:00] gingerbread houses. And so we’re in no danger of winning this thing at all, because there is some seriously elite stuff, but we didn’t win, but I’ll tell you what you get stewards and we make a good story.
And so our. win here is the article in the local newspaper. The Florida times union. The picture is of our gingerbread creation, based on the TV set from Lego masters. And so of course, whenever the guy came and said he wanted to interview, somebody in our family, Magnolia was the one that jumped up.
Now he tells stories about other Lego things in there as well. But you just read the first couple paragraphs. That’s all that really means.
Bob Bickford: That’s awesome. Well, I’m glad that, Maggie has stepped up to be the family spokesman yet once again. So, we should probably have her on the podcast at some point.
JimBo Stewart: We really honestly should. It’s a good thing that it’s not alive thing that can edit it, but, it, it would be, it would be, she looks, she might deliver some hardcore content. You never know in, in a good way, like just hard hitting, every once in a while, man, she’d [00:03:00] give me little notes for my sermons and it would be a pretty insightful stuff.
And so, watch out world who knows what she’s going to do, but No.
I, I bring that up partially because, it’s fun that my family got to be in the newspaper. for our, podcast today, we put a post up or I put a post up a couple of weeks ago asking some people, Hey, what would you like to hear us talk about?
And Brad white commented, Well first, my wife commented that we should do an episode on how wonderful our wives are, in tagged your wife and which I replied. I don’t think we could accomplish that in one episode, we’d have to start a whole new podcast just to cover all that material. So then Brad said, I sort of agree with Audrea Stewart on, and he said, talk me.
Balance family and service inside the local church. Like how do we, how do we balance having a good family life and leading and serving well within the local church?
Bob Bickford: Great. Great question. And, I agree with you. I’m not sure I’d want to tackle, how great our wives are in a [00:04:00] podcast. I don’t, I think we can do it justice, honestly, but, but I think we can talk about family for sure.
JimBo Stewart: Yes, absolutely. that is a challenge, man. And you know, we’ve talked about the statistics before of how many, the, the negative impacts that ministry has on family. a lot of times, and sometimes that’s because we haven’t managed our time. Well, or we haven’t managed that balance well, or we haven’t set priorities or sometimes it is just because it’s hectic and crazy and hard and hard things happen.
And it’s usually a mix of all of those things. So we cannot in this short podcast, fix all your family. Work life balance issues, but we can, give you some pointers to think about in how to address that in a good way. So, Bob, what would be one of the first things you’d say that might be helpful for somebody as they’re trying to think through, you get to wind down a little bit in Christmas, maybe, and then as we jump into the new year, as they’re thinking through priorities and that reset that you get in the new year, how could they set some rhythms and some patterns that could help
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I think Jimbo, I want to say before I give like a one practical [00:05:00]application is I would just say this, the church and its concerns and the issues needing your attention are always going to be there. And sometimes you sitting at your desk or meeting with leaders, you’re not going to solve the.
Right away. And it’s going to take some time and you’re just going to have to realize that you’re not going to get everything solved. So if you’re waiting to do something about your family and connecting with your family, after you solve all the problems with the church, you’re never getting end up being with your family.
So I just, by way of introduction, I want to say that just expect to there to be a lot of unfinished business and unfinished leadership tasks. So that said. With that as a reality, here’s some things I think that are important to do the first one, I would say Jimbo as attend your kid’s events, right?
You’ve got to go to, if your kids are doing a dance thing or a Lego thing or a sports thing, or some something musically, whatever they’re doing before. Go there. One of the great things that pastors often [00:06:00] have is a flexibility of schedule, and you can use that to a disadvantage, but you could also use that to advantage.
And so I would just say you got to make the priority if your kid’s got an event at school and they’re doing something in the afternoon, maybe an athletic thing, man, it’s early. Cause most, most of our guys are gonna have younger kids. that are listening. So may get, get to that sporting event and then go back to work, work a little bit later, if you need to get something wrapped up, but your kid’s going to remember if you were there in the stands or they’re on the field or they’re in the audience.
They’re not going to remember that you were providing for them by being at the church, trying to solve ministry issues or preparing a sermon, that sort of thing. They’re going to remember if they saw your face in the audience. And so I’d say number one, go to your kids.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, it really, the idea is there making sure your kids know that you’re in their corner, right. That, Matter to you. One of the things I even do sometimes is, I have, I’ll have things scheduled. Like we do a weekly family breakfast or things like that. And we’ll schedule that. sometimes we’ll move it around, but make sure we do it [00:07:00] as a family.
And once that scheduled, I mean, I hold pretty tight to that, unless it’s a real. emergency situation. I don’t get out of that. I found at least for my kids, one, of the things that helps in that is if somebody does ask me to meet and I tell them, Hey, I can’t, because I’ve already got a commitment. I let my kids know that I let my kids know, Hey, so-and-so really wanted in if it’s like important, like I want to, and I’m not saying that to make them feel guilty, it makes them feel cool.
Like it makes them feel like, oh, you chose, you chose. not you didn’t, you didn’t choose to go to that. You chose us over them and that becomes a win for them. And the, and the idea there, it’s just making sure your kids and your wife know that they are a priority in your life that they matter to you. So making sure family comes first.
and when, not to say that you don’t need to go work hard and you don’t need to spend 60 hours a week hanging out with your family cause you do have responsibilities, but when it comes to a decision between. And sometimes we were making this decision without even realizing that we are making this decision.
Right. [00:08:00] But every time we say yes to something, we’re saying no to something else. so when we’re calculating that in our brains, as we should just think, how much am I saying no to my family right now? Do they recognize that they come first and not first in sequence, but first in preeminence that they become more.
Then your ministry vocation. And so part of the way that you show that even to your wife, I think his date, your wife, man, go on regular dates, figure out how to make that happen. and I know the schedules are hard and you’re like two nights in a sh you know, passing the two ships passing in the night sometimes.
But, that’s even more important why you’ve got to figure out if you don’t want. Good strong, solid marriage. It ripple effects down into your kids.
at ripple effects into your ministry and ripple effects into your mental health and all sorts of things. And so, you’ve got to make maintaining and cultivating a strong and healthy relationship with your wife.
One of the most [00:09:00] important priorities of, of your week.
Bob Bickford: Totally agree. I would add this, you, you need to take a day off. Right. So some of our guys are bi-vocational guys and that’s going to be a hard one for them. but you’ve got to have some downtime because downtime will help you, be better equipped to handle the stress and the strain of your pastoral job.
And if you’re bi-vocational both of your jobs, I think one of the things that I found Jimbo’s is I, we work with our minds most. And our mouths, right? We’re communicators, we’re thinkers, where leaders, we influence people. We pastor people, we disciple people, all those sorts of things. And so there’s a, there’s a drain on us because of that.
And in some cases, the work we do could be, entitled knowledge work. So it’s not like we’re actually making something or doing something. But understanding the kind of work we do and how it drains us also understands, helps us understand how we might be refreshed. And so one of the things that’s so important for me is to take some time off.
If I’ve just been in a heavy season [00:10:00] of talking and developing and writing and all those sorts of things, I need to go do something physically with my. I need to get in the yard to build something. I need to create something physically. I need to work myself really hard, that sort of thing, because that there’s a form of rest that comes from that of, of resting my mind, but exercising my body.
And for some people they lift weights or they ride bikes or they do some sort of, kind of physical workout thing.
But one of the things we have to do is realize that we we’re going to become exhausted by the mental work we do, and we need to do something physically. And then I would say this, you’ve got to take a day off. Um, here’s the deal. You, you may have, uh, a deacon or an elder or church council member who, who makes it their mission to drive by the church and know when your car is there and when it’s not right, I’ve heard guys talk about that.
And that’s just insane. Right. And, and so if they kind of appointed themselves under the leadership, as they [00:11:00] think of the church, it’s their job to keep the pastor accountable. And, uh, I, here’s what I want to say kindly and graciously. Just ignore that person as much as you can. And if they’re not on the personnel committee or the deacon committee, why don’t you invite them in to present their case before the deacon board or personnel committee?
If you know, for sure the folks on those teams and committees won’t agree with them, right.
You’ve just got to take that and set that aside and. I think if you, if you feel the pressure of always having to be somewhere because of somebody’s expectation rather than the Lords, and then rather than your own, you’re going to wear yourself out and you’re not going to be effective or available to your family.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. I think you’re got to figure out how to find that balance in it. And so in order to do it, you may need to get up early. You may need to stay up late, in order to be able to give the time that you’ve got to give, because one of the things we [00:12:00] were talking about even before we started recording, is the importance of being present, where you are, where wherever you are, that’s just be there fully, right.
And figure out how to do that. That. All the science has proven multitasking is not a thing. Right? And not only is it not a real thing, you can’t do it. I don’t care who you are. You say that you can, which you can’t, you can’t do it. You can’t multitask. You can multi focus, which means you’re not giving full focus to anything.
And there’s actually brain science that shows that it’s actually slowing down your ability to think deeply. The more you do that, you’re, you’re actually bogging down your brain in a way that you can’t, Do you will lose the cognitive ability to go deep in your thinking, as easily. And so one of the best things you can do is learn how to be present, where you are, man, just this week, uh, iPhone came out with an update that I’m excited to see.
I’ve been really working hard at trying to do better at this being more present where I’m at and managing my time and productivity better.
I was excited to see that there’s a [00:13:00] new update to the do not disturb function on the iPhone. And there is you, so you can basically personalize one setting for driving one setting for home, one setting for work.
and so you can figure out what that needs to look like for you. And who should be able to text or call you at those times, and then you can set up based off of location for it to automatically turn on. And so I’m testing it out right now. We’ll let you know how it goes later on, but right now, if you, as soon as I get home, my phone immediately goes to the personal, do not disturb.
And so I’m not getting these constant notifications from everything I’ve got to set where certain things can notify me of things that I may need to know about. but it’s not constant. And that helps me. and I would just, man, overall. Just as a side little thing, man, turn off notifications on just about everything.
there are very few things on your phone that you need to actually be notified by and whatever little game that you’re playing is not one of those things. Right? And so when, when you start playing that [00:14:00] game and it says, allow or don’t allow notifications, don’t allow, go back, turn them all off. You don’t need these notifications.
They’re pulling your focus from where you’re at. be present where you’re at. And so that may mean that you need to wake up a little early before everybody else so that you can get some time, in the word and time and work. You may need to stay up a little past when your kids go to bed and hopefully not your wife.
but if you have to, you have to and, and figure out what that looks like to build that time in. And here’s. I just want to go ahead and answer some of the objections that I would anticipate. Some people might have, like, we used to understand how much I have on my plate. And I would say, I don’t, I don’t know how much you have in your plate, but here’s what I do know. I do know that this has to be a priority, right? I mean, this has to, regardless of how much, especially if you have a lot on your plate, you gotta figure this out. and so learn how to be present where you are and do whatever you gotta do to make that.
Bob Bickford: Great words. Great words. And I think Jimbo, one of the things in the regular pattern, as you mentioned, a regular pattern and [00:15:00] rhythm to life, whether it’s, you know, once a week or whether, you know, when you get home every night, the phone goes off or the do not disturb comes on. Here’s another one, and this is really hard for guys take. now, one of the things, the word that’s been invented recently is called staycation. Right? And so a lot of our replants are revitalized their friends. They may not have, they’re not just rolling in the dough. Right. And they don’t have a beach house or a mountain house or something like that. But, they, they need to take, we gotta take a break on a regular basis.
Take a couple of vacations. And most more often than not, you can get, at least two weeks of vacation, if you’re just starting out in a position. And I would just say this on your way in negotiate for all the vacation that you can get. Right. And this is why this is why there’s a default personnel manual that was written in the 1950s that was adopted by the dead and declining.
That has probably the most restrictive and like UN [00:16:00] friendly vacation policy in the whole world. And if you don’t negotiate that on the way in, you’ll never stay at that replant long enough to get enough vacation, that is compatible with current times. And so what I would say is if you’re coming from the work world and you’ve got two to three weeks of vacation, if you’re coming from another ministry setting, And negotiate that get credit for that and involve your associational, missional strategists, have them help you and be an advocate for you because you’re going to need vacation.
And here’s why pastors work on weekends and pastors work on holidays. Christmas Eve is coming up new year’s day is coming up. every weekend you’ve got to be there or have it covered. And so it’s really hard for a pastor to take vacation. And here’s the other thing. And I hate when this happens is oftentimes.
Something will happen during a vacation that causes the pastor to become fearful about his security and his employment. Right? [00:17:00] So some key member passes away, you’re in vacation, right? And you got a call, uh, you get a call and they want you to come back for a funeral. And what I would say, man is just this.
Do your best to not leave your family vacation and combat. And have to take care of whatever business it is at the church, including pastoral responsibilities. Right? You have some other elders, you raise them up or you just tell the family look, there’s, I’m sorry. I’m not available, but here’s when I am available, will that work?
You know, just do that because I think your kids will remember. If something happened at church and you left, and here’s the reality, most of the churches that are under 200 people, the normative sized church, the ones that have been declining and sort of dead for a long time, they are so demanding, so demanding.
And what I’ve seen has seen a pastor leave his family vacation for 40 people or 50 [00:18:00] people who are part of a church and the. They just demand his time and his family is left, trying to pick up the pieces or their vacations cuts. Their investment emotionally, financially, et cetera, is just shattered. Now I sound, I may sound a little hard in that, but I really think you got to weigh that heavily.
Right. And you’ve got to wrestle with that. And then the other thing, when you go on vacation, just trust that the Lord has you in his care and that the Lord has the church and in his care as well. Right. And I’ve heard stories like this guys, guys being afraid to go on vacation because when they come back, the deacon’s held a secret meeting and when they come back.
They’re asking the pastor to resign. I’ve heard of those instances. And here’s what I would say, brother, if that’s the case, if the Lord leads you to stand and to stand up against that kind of work and that kind of, attitude and kind of action by the deacons do it. But if you feel like it’s the, now the segue for you to go to another place, just know that the Lord gave you a.
[00:19:00] An obvious way out of an unhealthy situation that would not be healthy for any leader who was in your position. And so all that to say, that’s a lot of explanation around vacation, but I would just say you got to take a vacation and don’t be fearful on it and try to relax as best as you.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. And that’s hard, man. I remember, uh, when we first got to Jacksonville and we’ve talked about this on here before I kind of had this, restaurant entrepreneurial mindset of men, I got to put in, you know, serious work for the first hundred days. And, and man, I did, I mean, I. 15 hours a day for the first a hundred days.
And so me and my wife had an anniversary trip planned kind of at the end of that a hundred days. And it took me a few days to like wind down. Like I, I mean, I was keyed up and it was really hard for me to be present where the first thing she wanted to do is get in the lazy river and, [00:20:00] I almost had an aneurysm.
It was, I, I was trying so hard, man. It was I on the outside, I was looking like, I was at least, I think I was trying to look relaxed and present, but man, they were a thousand different things running through my brain, the whole lazy river. And I couldn’t do anything about any of them, but that’s the reality.
You, you can’t so I’ll never forget when somebody told me, I don’t know if it was a book or somebody told me, he said, If somebody calls you at 1130 at night because their marriage is falling apart, it can wait till tomorrow. Their marriage didn’t fall apart at 1130, their marriage took years to fall apart and you’re not going to fix it at 1130.
The house is not on fire. You’re not a fireman. They’re not having a heart attack and you’re not a surgeon and you’re not an emergency room doctor. You are a pastor. And what we do is slow. And so you, you know, now if somebody has a tragic car accident [00:21:00] in the middle of the night or something like that, you know, yeah, man, get up, go be with the family.
Be comfort, be a shepherd, give pastoral care. But if somebody calls you and they’re telling you got to come see us now, our marriage is falling apart. He wants to divorce. Well, guess what? He can’t get divorced at 1130 at night. and so he can’t find a lawyer. He can’t go through all the paperwork.
They’re not gonna get divorced before you get to them. And, and so the best decision you can do is say, Hey, why don’t you sleep on it? We’ll meet in the morning or something like that have that freedom and not everything is immediately. maybe very important, but it does not have to be solved right.
Then when somebody calls. And so, especially when you’re taking vacations time off, you got to really prioritize that. Here’s the other couple of things I would say, as we get towards the end of our time is one, Uh,
a couple of things I want to cover is a man, give your wife freedom to serve in the way that she feels called to [00:22:00] serve.
And, and, and let her determine that you don’t determine that just like you don’t necessarily determine that for any other church member, you may see things and you may ask, Hey, would you be willing to serve in this capacity? And I’m not saying you can’t ask your wife to serve in some capacity, but when you do, don’t just do it to fill a hole, make sure it’s something that would be fulfilling for her and making sure it’s something that she would.
Uh, find joy in doing don’t just now she wants to jump in and, and fill a hole, then let her, but also watch like my wife, I have to watch her over-committing
and you watch that and make sure she’s not. Expanding herself too much. in order to, she’s not the savior of that church and neither are you. And so there’s some dynamics there.
We do probably a whole episode. We’ll probably need to have our wives on to talk about, but, don’t the mistake I see some guys make is they dictate or they let even worse. They let the expectations of the church dictate [00:23:00] exactly what their wife’s service will look like in a church. And that’s, that’s not a good.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. And it’s not a good move either to let your life, your wife be your emergency volunteer. if all things fall apart and that sort of thing, I, I. Early on in our marriage. me and my wife’s primary mission was to make sure that our family was okay. And they were, you know, that our kids were cared for and that they were able to participate in the life of the church.
And so in some, in the season before we had kids, she was very involved. When our kids were real little, she was, minimally involved and it was just part of, you know, kind of our reality. So I think that’s incredibly important to let your wife choose her availability and her service. like she, like you would a church member.
I, I totally agree with that.
JimBo Stewart: So, uh, one more thing I would say is create family rhythms, figure out fun family [00:24:00] rhythms. I’ve found even it doesn’t have to be anything. extravagant my kids just love that there’s a rhythm, right? And so we make sure on a weekly basis to have a Stuart family morning breakfast. And even if we have to it’s breakfast for dinner, and we’ll do it, we’ll cook, we’ll do the eggs and bacon and a whole deal, or we’ll go somewhere.
but Stuart family breakfast is one of our routines. We have a lot of other routines and rhythms that we do waste that just. Fun things and fun memories. I think it’s super important to do that. Build into those rhythms, figuring out what it looks like to lead your, your house spiritually. just like you would.
Try to lead your church to not let church be the only discipleship part of their life. It doesn’t need to be true in your home either. but don’t feel like you have to fit into some mold and some box of exactly what it looks like. Don’t let somebody else dictate for you. What that pattern has to look like, figure out for your family [00:25:00] and your rhythms and patterns.
What does that look like for you to lead your family? Well, spiritually.
Bob Bickford: I love it. And, uh, reminds me of, we used to do this thing called family fun day, where we allowed the kids to participate in selecting our fun activity. So we have three kids in the house. And Sunday afternoon was our family fun day. And so it was on the schedule. So when your kids get older, and they’re mobile, it’s important to have a schedule, like you said, a routine.
And, and so they knew our, when we’re all together on Sunday, we’re going to do something on Sunday afternoon, and then we let them choose. We kind of put together some things that. And enjoyable by all of us. so that, that could be a game that could be going to a movie that can be taken a hike in the park.
It could be going to one of the attractions around St. Louis. we just decided we were going to spend some time together and enjoy, being together. And I think that’s one of the things that’s most important is create a lot of memories, [00:26:00] have a lot of lives. Have a lot of good connection because when you’re together, when your kids are out of the house, when they come back to the house, those are the things you remember and you laugh about and you celebrate all of those fun memories and all those connections that are really important work.
And so, I just encourage you guys make time for that and spend a time thinking about it and then keep work in
the appropriate light, that it needs to be in relation to your family and your relationship with.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. make sure your family feels like they’re priority. They recognize, make sure that they are priorities. They feel loved, respected. They know that you’re in their corner. And figure out what that balance looks like. If you’ve got more questions about that, for further clarification, we’d love to address that maybe even have you on the podcast to discuss it.
So shoot us a note on any of the social media outlets that we use, text. Call us the number’s on the website, replant bootcamp.com. look at the show notes. You’ll see [00:27:00] a link there to the illustrious Lego masters themed thing. If you’re in Jacksonville area and come by and look at it and all the other things, but for everybody else, before you tune off, listen to one more thing.
Our plug for, if you want to hang out with us in new Orleans in February, am I re planter is coming up and it’s going to be a really great event for anybody that is new to revitalization or replanting or considering revitalization or replanting, or just wants to know more about it. this is going to be a great two-day event with some great guests like Fred Luder and devil doc and our wives.
And I assure you. Opportunities for good food. So sign up, hope to see you. in new Orleans.