Summer is an incredible time for ministry and outreach. From vacation Bible schools, MEGA Sports Camp, group trips, and pool parties, the opportunities to connect with kids and families within your church and community may seem limitless. The phrase “God first, family second, ministry third” is a simple reminder of where our focus should be. Yet during the chaotic joys of ministry, that order of priorities can shift. In the midst of limitless opportunities, we need to establish limits that allow us to prioritize our own families.
This idea of God being first can seem obvious, yet at the same time be unchecked in our life. What does it mean to put God first? Does ministry end up high on that definition for you? It can be challenging to separate the priorities of God being first and ministry being third. Instead of looking at them as one and the same, it is important to keep them separated. The best way to keep them separated is to clearly define what each one looks like individually. These definitions can be short and to the point, or they can be laid out in full detail. Here are some sample definitions of what each of these can mean:
God First (God): Spending time with God in prayer, worship, and devotion.
Family Second (Us): Spending time with our family in conversation, activities, and investing in their lives.
Ministry Third (Others): Spending time with others in conversation, activities, church, and investing in their lives.
While these definitions are very similar, they simultaneously are different. The way we define what it means to put God first should be a model for how we define the remaining priorities. Once these definitions are established, it is much easier to figure out if they are out of order in our lives. This starts a chain effect too. How our relationship is with God can directly impact the relationship with our family. If our home life is not in order, then it can significantly impact how we minister. Three words to help you remember these concepts are “God, us, and others.”
When challenges are faced at home, it may seem easier to minister to others and put our focus on ministry ahead of our family. This starts a downward trend. While it may begin as only temporary, it can quickly become a permanent lifestyle. How do we keep family before ministry? Learn to stop. If you don’t know how or when to stop doing ministry—or anything else for that matter—then it is impossible to put your family first. Smartphones don’t make this easy!
Are you bringing ministry stresses home? You may need to turn off email notifications, leave your laptop in the office, stay off Facebook, or maybe even stay off your phone. Give undivided attention to your family, and spend time with them intentionally.
Remember: God, us, others. Define what this looks like in your life and in the life of your family.