Have you ever wondered what a pastor does when he is at home? I think the answer to that mystery is widely varied, but there are really only two basic categories of answers: being home or working. Either you are spending quality time with God, your family, or yourself, or you are taking phone calls, answering e-mails, or working on other things for the job.
When I am home, I am home. I do not see Sarah and Jakob when I am at work. I probably talk to Sarah for five minutes during the day, because my lull times line up with Jakob’s nap time, and I always hope she’s asleep, too. I wouldn’t want to wake her. So when I get home, I want to be home. From the time I get home to the time Jakob goes to sleep, I have less than four hours. If he is up from his nap, I play with him first thing. He sees me come in the door, and he runs for his room laughing. That’s my cue to chase him, and when I catch him – always on his Michigan chair – he expects me to tickle him. Then I let him up, he runs to the living room, and I catch him out there. Repeat cycle. We have fun. If I walked in the door on my phone, and he took off running, I wouldn’t be able to chase him.
Chase is followed by dinner. I do not want to get food on my computer, phone, or Bible, so besides putting Sarah and Jakob first, there are practical reasons to ignore work while I’m eating. Besides, you don’t want me to chew in your ear, and I don’t want my food to get cold. Everyone loses in this situation.
After dinner, Jakob usually watches his last episode of his show for the day, and he’ll sit on my lap for a few minutes of it. He can’t stay, though, because he has to get up and dance. Sometimes, I’ve been known to dance with him. Actually, that’s a common occurrence, because he has more fun jumping up and down when we’re doing that together. Post Imagination Movers, I hang out with Sarah. Jakob chases the dog or cat, or “reads” his books, or plays his drums. His drums are really anything he decides to hit with his drumsticks. It’s cute for now. Sarah and I talk and watch him play, and we watch TV, although there’s really only one day where we enjoy TV, so usually we ignore it.
Bedtime for Jakob comes between 9 and 9:30. Sarah gets him ready, gives him a kiss, and hands him over to me. I give him a hug and a kiss, pray with him, and give him another hug and kiss goodnight. I never leave his room without telling him that I love him, whether he’s awake or asleep.
The last hour of my day is me and Sarah time. Lately we’ve been spending that time reading our Bibles next to each other in bed and periodically talking sporadically throughout our reading. She will tell me something deep she’s picked up, and I’ll point out something I thought was funny in my reading. We might turn on a movie and watch some of it, or we might just go to sleep.
So, when I am home, I am home. There are few exceptions to the rule. If I get sick and cannot get my work done during normal office hours, I do some work from home. If Sarah is out with a friend and Jakob is napping, I might work a little. God has changed my message for the weekend on the weekend, so I work from home then. I might even take a phone call, but if it’s not an emergency, I will tell you that I’ll take care it tomorrow and call you back. If it’s an emergency, we can take care of it right then. Sarah’s understanding and flexible about that. Emergency is defined as follows: someone is hurting, in the hospital, needs talking down, or a teenager needs to talk to me.
My family is the most important ministry I have. I can’t neglect it for the others I’ve been called to do. I don’t want Jakob’s childhood memories to be of he and Sarah spending time together while I was on the phone or spending time with someone else’s family.