Leaders: How to Balance Family and Mission

Jonathan Edwards: Ministry and the Life of the Family
Doreen Moore

When William Carey, the father of modem missions, decided to go to India as a missionary, his wife did not want to go. She had three children and was pregnant with a fourth. He resolved to go even if he had to leave her and the children behind. Shortly after the birth of her fourth child she gave in and accompanied him to India. While there, they lived in the interior surrounded by malaria-infested swamps. At one point, Dorothy and two of her children became deathly ill. Her physical health continued to decline and her mental health began to deteriorate as well. After her five-year-old son died, her mental health deteriorated to such an extent that others said she was “wholly deranged.” William Carey believed “the cause of Christ” took precedence over his family. 1

When John Wesley married Molly Vazeille he determined he would not “preach one sermon or travel one day less in a married than in a single state.” 2 Initially his wife traveled with him, but the hardships were difficult and she stopped. After that she rarely saw him. Although he wanted to accommodate her desires, he stopped short of anything that would interfere with the cause of Christ (viz., the Methodist cause). He believed that if he slackened at all, even for her, he would be disobedient to the work God had called him to do. To this cause John Wesley desired to “spend and be spent.” Their relationship deteriorated and she often left him. In 1771, he wrote, “I have not left her; I have not sent her away; I will not recall her.” 3 John Wesley believed “the cause of Christ” took precedence over family.

A survey of church history reveals that many other great leaders of the Christian church believed “the cause of Christ” took precedence over their family. Their influence was extensive, but their families suffered great hardship. The prevalence of this can make one wonder if commitment to ministry will necessarily cause one’s family to suffer. Fortunately, there are examples of those who had both-a zeal to minister to the world and an equal fervor to serve their family.

One man who stands out as a “success” in both areas is Jonathan Edwards. The legacy he has left to the Christian community as well as the legacy he has left to his family is extraordinary. Jonathan Edwards and his wife Sarah were married thirty years and had eleven children: three sons and eight daughters. 4 One can see a clear trajectory of his influence on his descendants. A study of 1400 descendants shows one hundred lawyers, sixty-six doctors, thirteen college presidents, thirty judges, sixty-five professors, eighty public office holders, three senators, three governors, and one vice president. 5 Jonathan Edwards was able to keep in perspective the tension between commitment to the “the cause of Christ” and commitment to family. In light of his “success,” the goal of this article will be to analyze his biblical and theological convictions which shaped his understanding of the role of a minister of the Gospel as well as his role as a husband and father.

Edwards’ Marriage and Family
Jonathan Edwards was captivated by a young woman named Sarah Pierrepont. In 1723 he wrote:

To Read the Rest of the Article go to Ministry and Family

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How to Create Practical Checklists

by George Ambler


Photo by Marcin Wichary

The humble checklist has been used for may years as a memory aid. Checklists help to ensure tasks are completed to the right quality and standards. The best example of a checklist is the daily “to do” list, a reminder of what needs to be accomplished this day. In some cases checklists are a literally a matter of life and death. The article “Checklist Reduces Deaths in Surgery” highlights the power of well designed checklists being used in hospitals with surprising results…

“’Surgical complications are a considerable cause of death and disability around the world,’ the researchers wrote in the online edition of The New England Journal of Medicine. ‘They are devastating to patients, costly to health care systems and often preventable.’

But a year after surgical teams at eight hospitals adopted a 19-item checklist, the average patient death rate fell more than 40 percent and the rate of complications fell by about a third, the researchers reported.”

Checklists turn out to be powerful leadership tools. Consider John Kotter’s widely used “checklist” for managing organisational change taken from his best seller Leading Change:

  1. Establish a sense of urgency, leading to a shared need.
  2. Create a guiding coalition, leading to accountability.
  3. Develop a vision and strategy, leading to hope.
  4. Communicate the change vision and strategy, leading to commitment.
  5. Clear the way for broad-based action, leading to alignment.
  6. Generate and recognizing small wins, leading to momentum.
  7. Consolidate the small wins, leading to early successes.
  8. Anchor the new approaches in the culture and systems, leading to sustainable change.

This checklist contains the most important aspects that you need to consider when introducing change.

 Creating a Great Checklist

Some advice to guide you in the creating your own practical checklists.

To read the rest of the article go to http://www.thepracticeofleadership.net/2009/04/13/how-to-create-practical-checklists/ and get some great advice on creating your own practical checklists.  I have created some practical check lists based on David Allen’s ideas in Getting Things Done for my own life and have found them really valuable and excellent time savers. 

Hire the best possible consultant for you

If you have ever worked with a good consultant you know they are great at asking the right questions.  A great consultant will help lead you to your own “Aha” moments instead of just telling you what they think is best for you in a certain situation.  Though my natural strengths are leading and directing (command in the Strengths Finder lingo) I have found that when I can lead someone to there own aha’s through questioning they are much more likely to:

1.  Get it

2.  Follow through on whatever they need to

3.  Enjoy the process of whatever it is they decided they needed to do much better.

There are some people that just want to be told what to do and have a frame work laid out for them.  Even the greatest mavericks have times when they want someone to tell them what to do. Most of the time and with most people we like coming up with our solutions.

Just this past weekend I was talking to someone and I told him. “If you were on the outside of your situation looking in don’t you think you’d be handling this way different than you are because it’s your own life.” For him that was an AHA moment. He realized if he was coaching himself he would be giving counsel to go in a totally different direction with his life than he was actually taking. It allowed him to see how foolish his current path was.

From time to time, I’ll do this with my own life. I get away from my office and I sit down and think, “What advice would I give Buddy if I was in his situation right now?” What I come up with is usually markedly better than what I have been thinking especially if it is something that I have gotten in a rut with.

Next time you need a consultant try paying $4 at the local Starbucks or nothing at a local park before you go off and pay someone else to tell you the things that you already know. You just might be the best possible consultant for your situation. If that doesn’t work, you can always hire me to ask you the tough questions and give you sound advice. ;-)