I read an interesting book several years ago entitled Finishing Strong by Steve Farrar. He tells about a survey Dr. Howard Hendricks conducted of 246 men in full-time ministry who had experienced personal moral failure within a two-year period. In other words, Hendricks was able to find nearly 250 men who derailed within 24 months of each other. That’s roughly ten a month for two years—ten guys a month in moral failure. And each of them started strong. In the Christian life, it’s not how you start that matters. It’s how you finish.
These men were committed to Jesus Christ, yet within 24 months they were involved in sexual immorality. All of us can tell about men we have known who are now out of the ministry. I, for one, am not making light of it: rather I want to be warned by these statistics.
I have always loved the pastorate. I love ministering to people. But I also realize just how important my relationship with my wife and family is. 1 Timothy 3:2 says the preacher is to be “the husband of one wife.” Please allow me to make a few observations and suggestions for each of us to consider. Please note that I realize no one, myself included, is above the fiery darts of the Devil.
1. Don’t Make Your Wife a Widow While You Are Still Alive!
- She must know how important she is to you.
- Spend time with her. I heard one preacher say that he never takes a vacation. I thought, “You don’t need to confess your sins to me!”
- Not taking a day off does not make you spiritual.
2. Fortify Yourself Against Unnecessary Attacks from the Flesh and the Devil
- 80% of the 246 men that Dr. Hendricks talked about started their affair with a counseling session.
- Particularly those of you who do not have a staff, do not even think about counseling or meeting with a woman by yourself.
- Do not ever have another woman in your car. Every staff member should know this rule.
- Let the people know from the pulpit how madly in love with your wife you are. I make it a point to express a loving word to my wife from the pulpit at least once a month.
3. Resolve Your Problems Daily
In case you believe that marriages are made in Heaven, I would like to remind you that thunder, lightning, and hail are made in heaven as well!
As one therapist said it, “There are only two things that cause unhappy marriages: men and women.”
4. Become an Expert in Communicating
This is one of the most important ingredients in any marriage.
5. Never Stop Dating Your Wife
- Dinner dates
- Overnight excursions
- Game time
- Day off, etc.
6. Don’t Ever Take Your Wife for Granted
Remember what it was like when you were dating.
7. Teach or Preach a Series on the Home
8. Have a Couples Retreat
Remember that your church will be not stronger than your families.
9. Love Your Wife As Christ Loves the Church
This is easy to preach but extremely difficult to do. We have a never ending responsibility.
10. Provide for Your Family Financially
Make sure you save and plan for retirement.
11. Remember Your Family Includes Your Children
Treasure time with your kids—don’t lose them for the sake of the ministry. In my opinion, it’s not worth it.
- Have family devotions.
- Teach them doctrine.
- Teach them godly living.
- Help build the right convictions in your children—it’s too late once they go to college or get married.
- Have fun with them.
May God help us to love and cherish our wives and children until Jesus returns to take us home.