So a conversation on Twitter this morning started about whether pastors with kids should get Christmas day off, and ended with people getting huffy (as most Twitter convos sadly do — thank God for the mute button), but it really got me thinking about what comes first for us as Christians.
I am proud to attend a church that has the highest regard for our pastor’s time with family. It’s not about whether or not he loves his congregation, not about whether or not he’s a great pastor (hint: he is). It’s about respecting a father’s love for his family, and wanting him to enjoy that as God intended. My church condensed services on Christmas day to give volunteers and staff more family time, and my parents’ church moved all of their services to Christmas Eve. To us, this is all well and good because it is done for the right reasons, but according to some it is practically sacrilegious.
The way I see it, there are circles of ministry that everyone has, a sort of priority list. First comes the relationship between you and God. Prayer, Bible, and building a connection with Him in your everyday life are all important components, and this circle is the top priority. Second comes the inner circle of family: for most people, this means their household. If you are married, it includes your spouse; if you have children, it includes them too; if you live with siblings or parents, it includes siblings or parents. The people who live with and love you on a day-to-day basis are the second priority. Third comes the Church, which is all of the brothers and sisters in Christ. Taking time to spend building one another up, worshiping together, studying the Bible together, and finding wise leaders in the faith to listen to are all important parts of this. The fourth circle is the world: people at your school or work, old friends, internet people, and basically everyone else you interact with. The goal is to represent Christ in every interaction, and represent the least of these and the voiceless whenever possible. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and let the little children come.
Because of this worldview, I am firmly of the opinion that it is valuable, and even necessary, for churches to give their staff time to spend with their family and pour into their lives. Being a pastor in any capacity is not a 9 to 5, it absorbs their life. They will be the first to come when you are sick or in pain, when you lose your job, when you have to bury a loved one. They spend every day for years caring for their flock.
Can we really not afford to give them one day off?