The Delicate Balancing Act – Family, Ministry, Work & Seminary

I responded to a post from my good friend, Terry Delaney.  He recently authored a post “When Ministry and Seminary Collide”  I responded because I have been in that situation countless times over the last six years.

I left a comment and thought it would also serve as a good post as well.

Trying to strike a balance is always difficult when you have many things competing for your time (family, ministry, work, seminary) All of these are important, it is just how you manage them. I am no expert by any means and what I do now, may not work next week or next year, but it is an attempt.

Family – I try to spend time with my family everyday as much as possible. I leave fairly early in the morning for work/seminary and get home around 5:30 or 6. My son and I go get the mail and I play with him usually until dinner. Dinner- We eat dinner together every evening. I think I have only missed very few meals with my family because of a work or seminary issue. This is important, especially if you are gone all day either at work or seminary.

Ministry – This is a less defined area for me because I am not in full-time vocational ministry. I serve at the church where we are members. This involves many different things. I usher for the evening services every other month (August, October, etc) I am also on the rotation on our AV (Audio-visual) team for our PowerPoint slides before and during our services. That responsibility involves being available for both services only once every five weeks or so. I serve along with my wife in the 2 yr old nursery once a month on Sunday Mornings during the church service. The things I just listed are very predictable because they are scheduled in advance and involve a consistent pattern (monthly, etc.) I also serve as the chairman of our Missions Committee (we meet once a month on Sunday evenings after the service). I am also an assistant ABF(Adult Bible Fellowship) teacher. These things are important, but they can be managed. I always let my wife know what is going on the week ahead so she can be ready for it.

Work- I work a job where I have to “punch the clock” so I have to make sure that I get my 40 hrs in. I do not have the luxury of coming and going as I please, like the salaried people. It is even harder to get the 40 hrs in during seminary semesters, but it works because I have a boss who is flexible in this regard. Also, I work a schedule that allows me to have Friday afternoons off (after 1:30 pm) which does allow me more family time.

Seminary – in the early days when I was taking more credit hours, between this and work, I was stretched thin. Now, I am only taking two classes a semester for the next two years in order to complete my MDiv. I will still have to read, study, write papers and I usually did those things after dinner and took a self-imposed break one half-hour before my son’s bedtime, so I could spend that half-hour with him and my wife. Once we got him in bed, then I went back to my studies.

What would derail this is if I let any one of these things get out of whack… Does it happen, sometimes, but I have to be very intentional about all of them. It is all about time management, scheduling, prioritizing, etc. I am far from perfect and I am willing to adjust what we do, but for now it works… What could improve the situation. If I was working in full-time ministry where I had a bit more control over my time (i.e. not having to be in the office at a certain time, not fretting if I took a 35 min lunch instead of 30 mins). Right now at this stage, I am not in full-time vocational ministry, but I do see that those in that arena, have much more time flexibility than the average white or blue collar worker, working a 9-5 job.


2 responses to “The Delicate Balancing Act – Family, Ministry, Work & Seminary

  1. Terry I think you do a nice job balancing life.

    I used your blog entry over at

  2. Thanks Jim for your comment, I appreciate the compliment, although this week has been hectic and it has stretched me to the limit, especially with seminary starting back and some unexpected schedule changes, and manditory overtime at work.

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