Reading time: two minutes. This week’s favorite phrase is not one that necessarily offers an uplift of encouragement, but one that is meaningful because it states very clearly a central issue that faces every professional church worker. I found the phrase while reading research from the 1950’s on clergy burnout. The study indicated one of the leading causes of stress for pastors, but applies to all church workers: “the conflicting loyalties of church and home.” Other occupations can also require an inordinate amount of time away from home, but few have a strong marriage and family life as a requirement for the position (see 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1). So how do we learn to balance the strong loyalty we feel to home life and the constant draw to the work of ministry? It’s been suggested that the two most significant causes of stress for pastors are their concern for the faith of the members and their concern for their family’s relationship with the church. That’s the source of the conflicting loyalties. We want to give our best, and often feel compelled to give even more, for the sake of the spiritual wellbeing of those we serve. But we know that it sometimes, often even, comes at a cost that our families are forced to pay. Balancing these “conflicting loyalties” means having a finely attuned sense of self-awareness. Are we, in our home, communicating well? Do I know when ministry demands have placed too great a strain on my marriage? Am I aware of when I’m approaching that line so that I won’t cross it? Have we had that conversation lately? Summertime can be a good time to set aside time with spouse and family to review the past season of ministry and prepare for the next. It’s also important to be aware of how the ministry is going. Church workers are well served to get comfortable with the reality that the demands of ministry in church and school are extreme. We need to know, “This is a demanding job. I’ll never master it and there is no end to the harvest. Therefore, I will do better in the long term by pacing myself. That’s the best way to balance the conflicting loyalties of church and home.” There are seasons of the year when the calling to ministry will put an extra strain on your family life. There are other seasons when the church/school community needs to understand that caring for ourselves and our families first makes us better at ministry. I’ll continue to pray daily that you will grow in the wisdom, skill and commitment to manage the conflicting loyalties well! Thanks for reading. Our ministry is made possible by the generous donations of people just like you. Click here to discover how simple it is to make your gift of any size to Grace Place Wellness. Do you know someone who might be interested in becoming a major benefactor to sponsor a retreat in your area? Our President/CEO Randy Fauser would love to hear from you today!