Tim Keller on Family and Ministry

This past Sunday we had the discussion of ministerial expectations of pastors as part of our Sunday School journey through Life in the Body by Curtis Thomas.  I watched this video just the day before, and though it is very short, it is very true.  May the Lord grant me end-time vision to appreciate the mean time gifts of my wonderful wife and son.

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3 Comments on “Tim Keller on Family and Ministry”

  1. Tyler Smith Says:


    I can see the wisdom in this message. However, I have known pastors who have spent an inordinate amount of time with their families and as a result, neglected their congregations. What do you suppose the correct balance is between family time and ministry time? Do you completely shut off lines of communication with your congregation when you are attempting to spend time with your family, or do you try to integrate the two? I think this is an important discussion because I have seen ministers fail in both areas.

  2. Tyler,

    I don’t think there is a fast and easy rule to this. I think there are seasons of ministry, for instance, that will require more sacrifice of time and energy than others. For the past six weeks, I had such a season. But there will be times that will be less demanding and perhaps more time will be devoted to spending time with family.

    I believe there should be a day where the phone is turned off and computer shut down where you don’t have to worry about everything. That may sound harsh, but ministers are not indispensable. As pastor, you should be equipping others for the work, and there should not be an unhealthy reliance upon the pastor. While I say that in principle, I cannot say that I have been consistent in my practice.

    If a minister spends an inordinate amount of time with the family and neglects the ministry, there might be something there that supersedes the family issue and really speaks to a character issue. I don’t know. I have not personally met a minister who has neglected the ministry in this way.

    One of the blessings I enjoy here at Grace is that my office is at the house (we don’t have office space at the church). I break down my day in three blocks (morning, afternoon, and evening) and sit with Dusti before the beginning of the week to explain my schedule and discuss when and how we will spend our time as a family and me as a minister. Doing this is important because she has a better understanding of the degree of demands (which vary from week to week), helps her know how to pray, and prevents her from feeling like she is neglected. When I am not disciplined with my time and doing things unproductive, then she is free (and I welcome it) to hold me accountable.

    In my personal administration template, I keep before me my personal and ministerial priorities and under them I lay out short term and long term goals along with urgent tasks to be accomplished. I try to distribute my time in the following order: me as a disciple of Christ, me as a husband to Dusti, me as a father to Nolan, and me as a minister to Grace Baptist Church. Blogging, hobbies, etc., follow after these.

    That’s some of the stuff I try to do to help me in this area. My problem is getting too task-driven and obsessed with something that I find it hard to stop. I am wired in such a way that I can become oblivious to other things that I need to be paying attention to. That’s where my wife, pastoral team, and close friends come in!

  3. Rod Carroll Says:

    Great reminder to keep our priorities straight (which I so often screw up). But the pressure from the church (or myself) makes it so hard to put them (family) in their proper place. Thanks for posting this video.

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