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Setting Boundaries Between Family and Ministry

Daron Dickens
Daron Dickens Tuesday August 14, 2018
<? echo $type; ?> Setting Boundaries Between Family and Ministry

Here’s a random question for you. If I were to say that somebody was a “PK” would you know what I meant? It probably will take a little bit more context. The term means “Preacher’s Kid” or “Pastor’s Kid” depending on the background or denomination. Now knowing that, what would be your impression of someone that was labeled a PK? If you didn’t know anything about it you might say that they were very strong in their faith or had become a minister themselves or had a strong relationship with God. However, if you knew what I was talking about from the beginning then you probably had a very different connotation. In the church world, PK generally goes hand in hand with somebody who has all but left the church, who is bitter with God, and/or who has some serious daddy issues. 

Disclaimer: Not every child of a minister ends up this way. Don’t be offended if you’re a PK and don’t have daddy issues. However, this is a very prevalent outcome. 

Why is this a common outcome for those born to preachers and pastors? Well, it’s the difficulty in creating balance between your ministry work and your family life. It’s as if their ministry parent had an affair. Only the other man/woman was God! Try to compete with that! 

– Have a baseball game? No, dad can’t be there. He’s with God. 

– Have a school play that you’d like your mom to attend? No, she’s serving Jesus. 

– Want your parent to be there to tuck you in at night? No, they’re with people in need. You’re not needy are you? You’re blessed. 

See the problem? In the parent’s attempt to do the will of God: To be the hands and feet of Jesus, to help people in need, and to spend time with God, they rejected one of the people they love the most. Obviously, it’s hard for that child not to be resentful toward one who took their parent away, namely God. Making the clear realization that your kids and family need you just as much as those in your service is a fundamental principle that you have to adopt in order to have balance in your ministry. 

I find that the number one challenge with this balance is NOT coming up with ways to separate your job from your work. No, I found the number one obstacle is the minister’s mindset. The difficultly to truly understand the importance of making time for their family. That means work doesn’t trump family time because of a ministry emergency. Emergencies and urgency is plentiful in the world of ministry. There has to be a fundamental belief that God is bigger and that my family is just as important to Him as the work I’m doing for Him. That is key. 

[bctt tweet=”There has to be a fundamental belief that God is bigger and that my family is just as important to Him as the work I’m doing for Him. That is key.” username=”orangeleaders”]

That said, here are a few tips that can help you organize your life to stay on track and give your family as valued time as you give the very critical work you do for Jesus. 

Make sure you have intentional, scheduled time for family, and protect that no matter what. 

Let’s be honest, we don’t have spare time. If we’re waiting to spend our spare time with our family then there will be no time. Not only that, often when we get an urgent or “emergency” call our family can easily be rescheduled. They’re always there. So, if we are going to make a priority to keep balance in our lives we have to have intentional scheduled time with our family that is protected no matter what. This isn’t just vacation. This is time at home or during the week, every week, that we hold dear. 

Clearly communicate boundaries to all. 

There are times when ministers almost live a life of deception in order to maintain boundaries. Instead of being up front with boundaries, they give excuses or don’t answer the phone or act as if they’re out of town. It’s very hard to justify deception in the name of Jesus. So be a person of integrity. Be a person of honesty. Be clear with your boundaries and clearly communicate to those around you. This doesn’t have to be done in an aggressive or confrontational way. This is you valuing your family as you value your ministry as you value God. People can’t respect your boundaries if they don’t know what they are. 

Be consistent with your boundaries. 

Once we clearly communicate our boundaries they’re only as effective as people see them lived out in our lives. We can’t have boundaries only when it’s convenient or when we don’t want to do something else. These have to be things that we hold dear consistently, all the time, no matter what. Modeling is the greatest source of teaching. As people see consistency with our boundaries they will be more likely to respect them. 

Have calibrating questions you ask yourself. 

Most of us don’t intend to be unbalanced or to reject our families. Most of us just end up sliding into the habit of paying attention to what is urgent over what is important. Having a few questions that you routinely ask yourself can help you stay calibrated. Here are some examples that I use: 

– Am I trying to help them more than they’re trying to help themselves? 

– If my kids were asked by a stranger what the most important thing to me was, what would they say? 

– Have I set aside and protected, intentional time with my kids/family this week? 

Using these methods can help you maintain balance in your boundaries between your ministry and your kids. However, nothing is more effective than a mindset of the importance of your family alongside of your ministry. 



Daron Dickens serves as a marriage and family therapist in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife, Margaret, and his two kids, Truman and Carter. He also served as a pastor for over 20 years. He loves reading, all things baseball and the heavenly blessing of coffee.