How to Keep “Family First” in Ministry- Bill Hybels

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This week I’ve been traveling through South America with Bill Hybels, who has been sharing leadership coaching and teaching to thousands of leaders.

During one stop in Brazil Bill was asked this leadership question:

“How do I maintain the priority of my family while leading a growing church?”

Here is Bill’s answer.

When I had children, and they started growing up a little bit, I didn’t ask myself how little attention can I give them so I can give my full attention to the church.

I said, “I want to be a faithful pastor, but I want to be a fantastic father; not a mediocre father, and not an absent father. I want to be a fantastic father.” Even if I’m not a pastor.

So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out, “What do I have to do to be a fantastic father?”

I met with a lot of other dads, I read a lot of books. I talked to my wife and my children. And then I came up with a strategy for how I could be the best father I could be.

There were many times when my fathering strategy collided with my church strategy. Now, the family didn’t win every one of those battles. But the church didn’t win every one of them either. We worked it out.

One more note on this.

So, we have a large staff at Willow. They work extremely hard. And many of them are young and have young children. And sometimes their kids are sick, or there’s something wrong, and a staff member will say, “I have to go tend to my family.”

So I give them the same little speech all the time.

I say, “I want you to flourish here at work. And I want you to flourish in your family. But most of the time, if there’s a direct collision, remember these two words. Family first.”

There will always be another service. There will always be another bible study. There will always be another prayer meeting. But if your family is under pressure, family first. You’ll never regret it.

Do you maintain a ‘Family First’ approach to ministry? How do you keep this priority?

Check back for more leadership insights from Bill Hybels in the coming days.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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