First Things

Splash! It hit me like a jolt of electricity. I turned and saw the cup in her hand and realized this was my wake up call. Everything from the week had been building and culminated into a heated exchange that ended with me standing at the bottom the stairs drenched in water.

Backseat driver

After the immediate chaos of moving across the world and having another baby; We quickly jumped into life here in Fuchu. I was excited to begin working for our fledgling church plant and we were equally excited for the opportunities that abound in a new city and neighborhood. So, we sat down made a plan, created rhythms and got busy. Before we knew it, our house was always full and our calendars even more so. Play dates, coffee mates and late nights became the norm. It felt like we were doing great and really hitting our stride as we got on mission for Jesus. What I neglected to see at the time though was that I was slowly asking more and more of Meg and taking a backseat to it all. Along with all of her motherly responsibilities, she was coordinating schedules, planning playdates, inviting people over and cooking for the masses while trying to translate her first book. In essence, she was overwhelmed and I was piling it on. I had become a classic back seat driver and we were racing through life.

In the driver’s seat again

I recently read an article by Marshall Segal titled Saying ‘no’ to good things the article begins stating:

One of the subtle pitfalls in Christian marriages is an inability, when necessary, to prioritize ministry in the home over ministry to others.

This inability to prioritize, is what led to my cold shower. The evening began with our weekly sync converstion that we started every Sunday night together. As we talked through the calendar and activites for the week I began assigning tasks to Meg. She was quiet for most of meeting but expressed some frustration over a few items I asked her to take care of. At the time I couldn’t see that she was overwhelmed and burning out but I knew something had hit its limit when she threw a glass of cold water on me.

The next day in our weekly staff meeting I talked the night through with Yoshi and Steve who helped me see that I had overwhelmed Meg and not led my household well. I hadn’t built rest into our life rhythms so weeks of running on all cylinders had caused Meg to run out of gas. It was a tough pill to swallow but they were right.

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

Paul’s words here are an even tougher pill to swallow. The reason I had become so overbearing was because my priorities had gotten out of order. I hadn’t put first things first. Instead I had fallen into that subtle pitfall that Segal warned of; prioritizing serving the church and others, over my family and even my own responsibilites. As I talked through this with Yoshi and Steve it became blatantly apparent that I was not heeding the words of Paul in 1 Timothy. I had been neglecting my primary responsibility for both my family and the church. I had not been working towards securing the rest of our funding for ministry here in Tokyo. I had made a commitment to my wife and to both our sending church and Soma Fuchu, that once we settled down I would work diligently to secure the rest of our support raising goal so that we could serve in Tokyo unburdened. I had let that slip as the desire to minister to our city took precedent over ministering to my family and I needed to repent.

Over the past week, Meg and I have cut back significantly on our schedules in order to reprioritize and make first things first again. I confessed to her that I had not led well by providing for our family and caring for everyones well being. I had lost sight of the fact that Christ’s comission to go and make disciples (Matt. 18:16-20) also includes my wife and children. I am thankful for the grace I have received from my wife and those I serve with here in Fuchu as I have become aware of this reality. Please pray for me as I walk through repentance in the coming days and seek to serve my family well.

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