Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Christian Leader's Priority

Walking one day with a wise old man, at least fifty years my senior, I asked what now seems to be a stupid question: "What should be my priority? My family (meaning loved ones) or the Lord's work?" It seemed an appropriate question then. I'd grown up in a Christian tradition that makes it clear that the "Lord's work" always come first. Sacrifices had to be made, and loved ones get the leftovers in a leader's schedule, the last dregs of his or her energy.

I have carried a mental picture of my father, a one-time pastor, all my life. It s of his back when, each morning, he walked away from our home to his church office. In my imaginative picture, I never see his face. Only his back. But I understand why. It was because he was told by his mentors that "you must give yourself to God's work, and God will take care of your family." I know he loved me, but it's still his back, not his face, that I see in my mind.

So I asked the old pastor, "What should be my priority: the family or the Lord's work?"

His answer? "Gordon, your family is God's work." That simple sentence, spoken in a very teachable moment, changed a large part of how I structured relationships in my life."

Gordon MacDonald
The Leaf Raking Doctrine
Leadership Journal Winter 2009, 93-96

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