A while ago, there was some internet chatter about a Perry Noble (local megachurch pastor) quote in which he describes why he refuses to do any hospital visitation. At the time, it really bothered me. I guess it still sort of does. You have this successful man of God who is supposed to be shepherding his flock but refuses to spend time with them when they are at their neediest.
And yet today I was really challenged to rethink my hang-ups with this particular Perry Noble quote. Now I'm not going to say that I agree with everything this guy does or even the way that he does it. But on the way up to my parent's house, Jeff and I listened to an incredibly eye-opening sermon by Mark Driscoll about ministry marriages. (You can find this sermon by searching for "Mark Driscoll ministry marriages" on iTunes. Sorry I couldn't find a direct link.But everyone should listen, particularly those who are in ministry.) He did a lot of research about several evangelical "saints" who had incredible ministries but at great cost to their families. This list included people like John Wesley, Hudson Taylor, A.W. Tozer, David Livingston.
The neglect and indifference to which they subjected their families was heart-breaking. And very clearly represented misunderstanding God's commands for fathers and husbands. They really made "ministry" an idol to which they sacrificed their families. I do not know what Mr. Noble's life is like. I can imagine, though, that managing such a large church is a huge time committment. (I will admit that I still have a problem with someone's decision to continue to grow a church to such an enormous size instead of trying to plant more smaller churches. And the whole multi-site church thing perplexes me. But those are discussions for another day.)
He is right about one thing: that his primary responsibility is to his family. He is a husband and father before he is a pastor. And that is good.