Ministry: Keeping it in the Family

While baseball is no longer, for all intents and purposes, America’s favorite pastime – to me it will always be sport number one. Every year I read a sports biography, so last year I picked up a bio on one of the all time best ball players: Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero by Leigh Montville.

What I found was that Ted Williams’ life is much more interesting than I anticipated. Here is one of the main takeaways from this life story:

Family Must Always Come First 

Williams’ father left at an early age, leaving his mother to raise two young boys in San Diego. His mother was a member of the local Salvation Army post where she became so heavily involved that her boys were left to virtually raise themselves. They had hardly any supervision, support, or nurture from their mom. Ted and his brother Danny were left to rely on aunts, uncles, and neighbors. Ted channeled his passion, his energy, his hurt into baseball.

I’m sure Ted’s mother thought her main ministry was as a soldier and evangelist with the Salvation Army. I’m sure she did great work in that ministry, but she neglected her children in the process and it had drastic effects that still echo today. Before God trusts us with a ministry or a mission, He trusts us with our family—it’s our first calling. Care and ministry of our family must always take priority.

Ted Williams said he hated God, he had a history of treating women terribly, and was an absent father himself. Ted’s outlook on God, women, children and life in general was determined by the way he was brought up. Because his mother thought serving at the church was more important than caring for him and his brother, he became angry and it impacted the rest of his life.

Our families must come first. If we neglect our families for the sake of our ministry, we are, in effect, abandoning our first ministry. 

After Ted’s death, all his children took up numerous lawsuits with each other, with Ted’s former wives, and others. At his death there was no joy, no celebration on an amazing life – just anger between his kids.

When we neglect our families, there are consequences that last generations. This is a great lesson for me: no matter what I’m doing or the seeming importance of my job, nothing will be more important than raising my kids and being there for my family. Nothing.

May we, with God’s help, find the healthy balance between church life, and family life.

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