Many years ago at one of the congregations where Keith preached, one of the older men made it a point to say to him, “I know you are a hard worker. But you still have children at home. You need to make sure you spend time with them.”
We appreciated that. Keith was a hard worker, spending at least 30 hours a week with the Word, just as Paul told Timothy and Titus they needed to be doing as young evangelists, plus the four hours preaching and teaching in the assembly every week, and then holding Bible studies, usually in the evenings, with interested people, or looking for more interested folks as he passed out flyers and meeting announcements, sent out and graded correspondence courses, and wrote articles in the local paper. I often met him at the local pond loaded down with old towels and blankets, especially in the winter, for a baptism. He seldom worked less than 60 hours a week.
Yet not long afterward, the same man’s wife came up to him and scolded him because he had missed putting an article in the paper the week we moved from one house to another. Everything else was done, but something had to give that week, and he preferred that one article not be written rather than his boys not have time with their father.
I fear too many churches are more like the wife of that couple than the husband. Especially if a man is supported mainly by other churches, the pressure is felt, even if it isn’t applied. Then there are the men who do not even need that pressure to avoid their obligations at home, using the same excuse Here is what Jesus had to say about that.
And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' But you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, "Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban"' (that is, given to God)-- then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do." Mark 7:9-13.
Those people got out of their financial obligations to their elderly parents by claiming their money was “given to God,” whether or not it ever actually made it to the Temple coffers!
“And many such things you do,” Jesus tacked on the end of that. .” As long as you can say you are using it for God, whatever “it” is, you don’t have to give it to anyone else. Tell me that saying your time is given to God (Corban) so it’s all right if you don’t spend enough of it with your children to teach them basic skills of life, to discuss the Word of God “when you walk and talk,” to just listen to their childish concerns and give them the fatherly wisdom they crave, or enough time to nurture your relationship with the wife whom you have come to take for granted, aren’t “such things.
I have seen old pioneer preachers lauded for sacrificing their family lives to go off for months at a time to preach the gospel. I am not sure the Lord would have been among their admirers. If they were single, fine, but choosing to have a family places other obligations on you. Isn’t that what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7? I would rather you be like me (single) so you do not have the obligations that having a family puts on you, duties which God does expect you to fulfill. Paul certainly didn’t say those obligations were negated by spiritual things.
Churches need to look at their preachers’ schedules for this reason: see if he is raising his children; see if he is spending time with his wife. The Lord made a family with both a mother and a father present in the home. He made the woman to be a help not a substitute father. Jesus said, “Don’t blame what you do for God as the reason you neglect your family obligations.” He says you make void the Word of God when you do that. Churches, do you want to be a party, or perhaps the main cause, for a man to make void the Word of God?
And we can also say this applies to anyone who hides behind “spiritual things” to avoid his family responsibilities—he is calling his family, “Corban.”
We call the argument about “quality time” between working mothers and their children a “myth.” Quality time can only happen when a quantity of time is being spent. What applies to mothers, certainly applies to fathers too. Jesus seems to agree.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4. Read that without the parenthetical statement—just the underlined words.