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I learned a lesson some time ago that I thought I would pass on to you…

A couple of years ago I was speaking at a family camp for key national youth ministry leaders. It was a wonderful group of Christ-followers with their families. After the first night’s talk I was walking back to my room when I met two teenage girls who were smoking. Both of their fathers were key leaders in the youth ministry movement. I probably shouldn’t have but I judged from the smoking that the girls weren’t walking strongly with the Lord. As we talked I found out they were a bit turned off to Christianity.

The next day I saw them again in the same place smoking. We really had a good conversation. Finally I said to them, “hey, I have three daughters about the same age as you. I want my girls to love God and serve Him. What advice would you have for me?” The most vocal of the two girls took a long drag on her cigarette, dramatically stamped it out on the ground and then said, “I hope you spend more time with your kids than my dad did with me. He had all the time in the world for other kids but not for me.” Whether she was right or it was just her perception, her few sentences made a profound impact on me.

The most important God-given relationships are my own family. I have to ask the question, “am I more focused on my ministry or my family?” When it comes to God-honoring priorities our family comes first. If not, too many people will have stories like the girl at the camp.

If we are to place our priorities right, it would be our relationship with God, then our marriage, our children, and then our vocation. (If you are not married or don’t have children yet, the odds are that you probably will one day). Far too many youth workers and ministry people get their relationship with God confused with their vocational calling. I believe when we have a right relationship with God, we will make sure that our family gets some of our best focus and priority.

Recently I asked an older, wiser youth ministry expert what he would change if he had the chance in his earlier ministry. Without a moments hesitation he said, “I would focus more of my time on my family and less on the busy work of the church.”

I have a feeling someone needed this reminder today.

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