Balancing Family and Ministry

Posted on: 07/28/11 8:22 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I remember when my wife had enough. The kids were young, I was working 70 hours a week running ministry out of our house, teenagers were over all the time, volunteers were always visiting… and my wife Lori was getting ignored.

One day she just picked up the kids and headed for the door.

I wrote about this event long ago (click here for that article) and reflected on it many times. I was able to “talk her down.” Lori stayed, I made some big changes, and we’ve now been married over 20 years.

I often ask Lori, “Were you really gonna leave me?” She answers me candidly. “I don’t know what I was gonna do. I was just tired of raising the kids alone and seeing you in passing, three minutes at a time.”

The crazy thing was, I really didn’t know better. As a young 20-something with a heart for ministry I made a huge mistake that many young ministers do– I made my ministry a higher priority than my marriage. I justified it, considering it all as a sacrifice we needed to be willing to take.

I was dead wrong.

Sadly, many of us don’t know any better because we’ve never been taught anything different. Take it from me. I learned through the school of hard knocks.

I’m not alone. I hear overworked ministers sharing the same stories again and again. Their families are being neglected, all in God’s name.

One of my friends who felt this pain is author and youth ministry guru Tim Schmoyer. Tim has been there, in the trenches, trying to balance family and ministry. Now, Tim and his wife have felt a calling to minister to youth workers who are feeling this struggle. That’s why the two of them have developed a website called

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this website since I first heard Tim talk about it. I think the part I’m most excited about is hearing from Dana, Tim’s wife. Dana is writing articles (like this one, When Churches Want to Be a Higher Priority Than Your Spouse) and sharing real life stories from the perspectives of a youth pastor’s wife. Dana and Tim together are seeking to help ministers make God and family first. Healthy ministry will flow out of those two things.

This is a difficult balance to find. I’ve seen some youth pastors who barely work 30 hour weeks, claiming, “My family is first.” (Newsflash, that’s called laziness)  More than that, I see the opposite extreme– overworked youth workers whose families are standing alone in the sidelines. Tim and Dana’s new website is a place to help youth workers find that balance.

Be sure and give it a peek at …and if you like what you see, forward it to a friend.