Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Are You Putting God First?

This past week I had a privilege to sit under the teachings of R.T. Kendall.  He is a wonderful man whose mission is to inspire people to desire to see the praise that comes from one and only true God.  Over the course of our staff retreat Dr. Kendall spoke about the need for total forgiveness in the body of Christ (which includes forgiving others and forgiving ourselves).

Yet, today I wanted to share with you something that Dr. Kendall & his wife Louise shared with us during Q&A session.  A question was asked how to balance family and ministry.  An important question indeed.  I couldn't wait to hear their response.

This is what Dr. Kendall said,
They are more important than 
the people you may never see again."

He mentioned that if he could do it all over again - he would spend more time with his family.  He said, "I used to spend more time on writing sermons thinking I was putting God first.  I used to spend more time counseling other people thinking I was putting God first.  I was wrong."

Sitting at my computer today I am reminded of the times in my life when the ministry took so much out of me that I had nothing left to give to my husband... I thought I was putting God first... And with a deep sigh I must agree with Dr. Kendall - I was wrong!

This is what the Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:8,
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 

What have I failed to provide for my husband?  If you ever smiled and acted nice in public only to snap at your beloved in private - you know exactly what I am talking about.

Today I am choosing to put God first by setting my priorities right.

What about you?


Scott said...

I wonder how this can be reconciled with Gospel depictions of Jesus continually asserting dedication to the kingdom of God before family ties? (For instance...Luke 12:53, Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:29, Luke 14:26, Mark 3:31-35)

Helen said...

Hi Scott,

Thanks for stopping by. I am not a Bible scholar or a theologian - but that never seemed to present a problem to me. All these passages but one (Luke 14:26) deal with relationships that are not husband-wife relationships. I had to do that. I had to leave my parents' home and pursue a life of ministry. I had to separate myself from their criticism and their desire to see me do other things in order to pursue the call of God on my life. I have people in my own family constantly criticize me for choosing ministry. I can't value their opinions over God's. In this instance, these scriptures have been playing out in my life & I fully agree with you that they are true. When I got married though - God has given me as a helpmate to my husband and my ministry is first to him. This is exactly why apostle Paul says that it is better not to get married as one will often find themselves struggling between pleasing one's husband/wife or fully committing yourself to the work of the ministry. But now that I am married, I am told in the Word of God that we are one flesh (Gen 2:24), and that I am to be a subject to my husband in everything (Ephesians 5:22-24).

Helen said...

P.S. And just as a disclaimer - I am not dismissing Luke 14:26. It is in the Word and God has a reason to have it there - I will have to do more studying on that particular verse to be able to have an opinion on what it means

Scott said...

It sounds like you have definitely experienced some of what Jesus was talking about.

I agree that the verse from Luke 14 is a tough one. My own perspective is that this verse reflects the historical situation surrounding Jesus and his followers during his life. Faced with the oppression of imperial Rome, much of Galilee's population was poor, many had fallen into beggary and chronic illness, and "broken families" were almost certainly commonplace.

When Jesus talks about "hating" one's family (including spouse), I think this saying probably reflects that historical context. Many of his followers came from families broken by oppression and poverty.

I also think that this saying is reflective of a more general trend in the teachings of Jesus, which is hyperbole or exaggeration. Jesus' message was one of love and acceptance and compassion. Clearly "hate" here is an exaggeration meant to make a point about unwavering loyalty to God, which is also a hallmark of Jesus's teachings.

Anyway, you have a nice blog here, and thanks for the conversation.

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