Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Make Up Time Lost With Your Family!

I have written much in recent days about the impact my mentor Mark Corts made on me. Let the reader be aware, that I do not intend to deify him, for one of the certain hallmarks of his life and ministry was to point people to Jesus Christ and to Him alone. However, God places people in our lives from whom we can learn, and he places others in our lives whom we can impact for Him. Dr. Corts made the most of every moment spent with others to impact them for the glory of God. I stated in my initial post about his death that I could never compile an enumerated list of lessons I learned from him, but that perhaps I could post one lesson learned every week or so. Knowing my own ineptitude, I will forget or fail to do this regularly, and knowing the universal depravity of man, most readers could care less. However, though many had the privilege of being mentored by this great man of God, and many more have had the privilege of being mentored by others who are equally gifted, many pastors and Christians have not had the privilege, and if I can impart some of the wisdom I have acquired from my days spent with Mark Corts, then I will be grateful to God for the opportunity to pass it on. I have no idea how long I will continue to do this regularly, and the "lessons" will be posted in no particular order -- only as they come to mind.

One of the first lessons I learned from Mark Corts was to make up time lost with your family. The work of ministry is like flubber. It will expand and fill up as much time or space as you allow it. That is not a bad thing. It is our calling. However, we also have been called in most cases to be husbands and fathers first, and when the work of ministry preempts those responsibilities, we are in danger of failing God in a terrible way. Most of us feel as if we are on duty, or at least on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That just goes with the territory of being a pastor. However, when the ministry takes away from time that we should be spending with our wives and children, we owe it to them to make it up.

For Dr. Corts, this meant that a late night of meetings or ministry activity should be followed by a morning or afternoon off the next day or as soon as possible. When I worked at Calvary, I was young, and eager, and ignorant (and unmarried, though engaged). I always volunteered for every opportunity to be involved in ministry. In a loving way, Dr. Corts pulled me aside and instilled this lesson in me. While he appreciated my willingness and my zeal, he cautioned me that if I did not make family a higher priority than ministry, there would come a day when both would disappear. He had seen it happen to too many people.

So, it has been my practice that when I have a weeknight meeting, or an emergency that takes me away from home, I make up that time lost with Donia and the kids as soon as possible. We all should try to take a day off every week, and when we can't, we need to make it up the following week or in the not too distant future. Our calling is to family first. We minister to others from the basis of a firm foundation in our home life. If the homelife begins to crumble, the ministry will crumble with it. Besides this, it is a good example to set for others in the church that their marriages and family ties ought to occupy a place of first importance for them.

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