Dr. J. Ligon Duncan, III, Pastor First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi (Excerpted from an interview):
Im not sure that I do a good job of that and Im still growing in that and its something that my wife and I talk about and that my officers and I talk about very regularly because it is a wonderful relationship that I have with the officers. They have been appreciative and protective and theyve recognized that sometimes Im my own worst enemy because I love everything that Im doing, even hard things, even when someone comes into my office with a heartbreaking situation or a sin that needs to be confronted and no matter how difficult it is, I love the work. I love the preparation for preaching, I love the preaching itself, I love the pastoring, I even enjoy the administrative responsibilities that I have to fulfill from time to time so my temptation is to throw myself into that all the time. I can do it round the clockjust give me a little bit of sleep and slide some food under the door and Im a happy man. But, and Ive found this, because my wife has worked as a Christian educator and has served on a staff of churches, she knows what life is like in a local congregation and shes also had pastors that have set good examples for her, both in regard to work ethic and pastoral care, so she knows that a minister has to be on call. Ive never known her to resent that. If someone calls at 2am in the morning and I need to be there, Ann is very understanding of that, and that sort of time isIve not felt pressure in that way in terms of family schedule. But very frankly, I have to sort of do flex time sometimes. There are times when I have to be out every night of the week, and when that happens I just try and find strategic times in the day where I can be with my daughter, whos under three, at important times; whether its gettingyou know, getting her up and getting her dressed, where we can be together and you know, snuggle in the morning and read a book or talkI just try and be there at strategic times and its the same for Ann.
I think that family can become an idol too, and I think that there can be unrealistic approaches to what family life ought to be like. We can have idyllic views of what a normal family life is, and so I think theres going to be flexibility intheres not going to be one particular model that has to prevail in every circumstance and people are different, peoples personalities are different, and parents are going to have to make decisions, and usually, very frankly, there are signs with our families that we see that clue us in to whether were spending enough time with them or were ignoring some aspect if we feel like theyre getting enough attention and oftentimes the mother, the wife, sets that tone. I can recall many, many men telling me that the reason their families were healthy were that, in part, their wife did not resent the demands of their position, and that she conveyed a concurrence and enthusiasm about the importance of the work that the husband was involved in, so that there was not a residual bitterness always floating around the house.