I am sitting down to write this. The desk looks like a writer's desk: lovely black walnut. The computer looks like that of a writer: word processor perpetually open and the lettering on the keys starting to fade from overuse.
But I myself do not look like a writer right now. I am fairly certain I do not even look like what most people would consider a preacher right now. I am covered in dirt, sweat and grass clippings, and my clothes are so tattered and worn that Goodwill would not even begin to accept them.
It is Labor Day, and I have been laboring. In fact, my entire family has been laboring alongside me here at the house. We have gone several weeks working day in and day out at the church and have neglected things around here, and I am determined to catch up on home chores this very day.
We have mowed and trimmed and hauled off branches. We have weeded flower gardens and moved rocks. We have hauled off junk that has been behind the building since the day we bought our house and land. Why was there an old shower out behind the building? I have no idea. I cannot begin to fathom why someone ever wanted to keep it.
Nonetheless, we have moved mountains today. My children are a bit perplexed; they do not seem to grasp the concept of laboring on Labor Day. I send them to the dictionary to look up the definition of the word labor, and that does not seem to satisfy them.
But things are about to change. Yes, all of the deadlines are still pressing. Yes, there is a mountain of work that sill needs to be done here at the house and at the church. Yes I have several upcoming revivals in several states to prepare for. But I also have something much more pressing than all of those things demanding my attention: My kids want to go swimming in the river.
I am not going to get anything done while I am out there. If things go as they normally do, I will spend the next two hours or so splashing and diving and laughing and doing the backstroke alongside my kids.
Messages will go unprepared for the next two hours. Calls will go unreturned for the next two hours. Yard work will go unattended for the next two hours. Construction projects at the church will go dormant for the next two hours. In other words, the next two hours will be some of the most productive hours I will ever have.
You see, spending time with kids is just as important, maybe more so, than preaching to them. I have, sadly, known far too many preachers who won thousands to the Lord and yet lost their own children. I have known far too many church people who have served in the various ministries of the church and yet neglected to attend to their own flock at home.
I am the biggest proponent of serving the Lord with great exertion that you will ever find. I believe in going overboard working in the Master's fields. I understand that the harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few.
But I also understand that the first task God gives any of us is under our very own roofs. In the qualifications of the pastor found in 1 Timothy Chapter 3, you will find multiple references to how well the man of God handles his own family.
Ephesians 6:4 says, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Through the years I have seen one thing that provokes Christian children to wrath greater than any other thing: parents who neglect them for the "duties of the ministry." I can see the faces in my mind right now of a good number of former preacher's children and Christian laymen's children who left home and left church at the first available opportunity, for this very reason.
I hope you have enjoyed the column. I am going swimming with my children.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist and author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.