Ministry can sometimes be a "break-neck" speeds. It seems that there are times when I can physically not get everything done that needs to get done in the time that I have. This can lead to a couple of different scenarios playing out.
Scenario #1- Because there is so much work to be done, I begin working 85-100 hour work weeks to accomplish everything that needs to be done. This will allow me to accomplish most of my tasks, but there will inevitably still be things that do not get done.
Scenario #2- Because there is so much work to be done, I work as hard as I possibly can for a reasonable amount of time each day, and when that time is up, I go home. This will allow me to accomplish most of my tasks, but there will inevitably still be things that do not get done.
Let's face it, if we are doing ministry the right way, more often than not there will always be items left on our to do lists that we never make it to. You can work yourself to exhaustion, and though you might accomplish everything today, you will not have the energy needed to accomplish tomorrow's tasks. I read somewhere that the most productive week of almost every employees year is the week that is right before they leave for vacation. At first, this didn't make sense to me, but then I paid very close attention the next time I was preparing to leave for vacation. Suddenly I was accomplishing so much more. Instead of the one week's kids church lesson that I had to write, I was able to write 3 weeks lessons (one for that week, and 2 for the 2 weeks that I would be gone). I was able to communicate with my entire leadership team and let them know what their responsibilities would be while I was away, and I was able to accomplish about 3 weeks worth of work in that 1 week. So, what can we learn from this: That we should go on vacation every month :) Not really. We can learn that when we have to, we can work much more effectively and efficiently when we have to, so why not work that way all of the time?
I read a book by Andy Stanley called Choosing to Cheat about 3 years ago that radically changed my thoughts about the "ministry". I would highly recommend it to every new minister, and every veteran minister as well. In it, Stanley talks about the tensions between work and family. Reading his book made me realize that there is only one man in this world who my babies will call Daddy, there is only one man who my wife will call husband, and no one else can handle those responsibilities for me.
I have to find ways to "Cheat" at the office (read the book, it certainly isn't what it sounds like initially) so that my wife and kids will never feel cheated. A slight disclaimer here would be that there are "seasons" of ministry which will require me to "cheat" at home a bit because of what is going on at church. If I have done my job at home prior to the seasons, then they will be only that, seasons, and not catastrophes.