Too often, American church leaders make headlines for failing their spouses, children, and congregations. Others buckle under the combined stress of leading a church and raising a family. As longtime Youth for Christ leader Ajith Fernando demonstrates in The Family Life of a Christian Leader (Crossway), these problems are not confined to the West. For several years, Fernando has devoted himself to counseling and mentoring church leaders and their families in his native Sri Lanka. Megan Hill, author of Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in Our Homes, Communities, and Churches, spoke to Fernando about the importance of ministry families expressing love, cultivating beauty, and having fun.
How does the family life of Christian leaders differ from that of other Christians?
Christian leaders face a special challenge of commitment. They have to ask themselves, “Am I committed enough to take on the strain of being a good father or a good mother while I am caring for other people, too?”
Living for other people can be very hard on children and spouses. Church leaders often face unrealistic expectations. It’s a huge balancing act, and I don’t think anyone in the world is perfectly balanced! Like anyone who works long hours, we are tired when we come home, and we don’t feel like showing active, sacrificial love. But that’s the most important place to show love.
Prayer is the most important thing I do. If I don’t spend time with God alone, I won’t have the strength to do ministry and care for my family. Without prayer, I would have burned out long ago.1