The minister's duties lie around him, nigh and afar off; but his first duty is to his children. He should not become so engrossed with his outside duties as to neglect the instruction which his children need. He may look upon his home duties as of lesser importance; but in reality they lie at the very foundation of the well-being of individuals and of society. To a large degree the happiness of men and women and the success of the church depend upon home influence. Eternal interests are involved in the proper discharge of the every-day duties of life. The world is not so much in need of great minds, as of good men, who are a blessing in their homes.
Nothing can excuse the minister for neglecting the inner circle for the larger circle outside. The spiritual welfare of his family comes first. In the day of final reckoning, God will inquire what he did to win to Christ those whom he took the responsibility of bringing into the world. Great good done for others cannot cancel the debt that he owes to God to care for his own children.
There should exist in the minister's family a unity that will preach an effectual sermon on practical
godliness. As the minister and his wife faithfully do their duty in the home, restraining, correcting, advising, counselling, guiding, they are becoming better fitted to labour in the church, and are multiplying agencies for the accomplishment of God's work outside the home. The members of the family become members of the family above, and are a power for good, exerting a far-reaching influence.
On the other hand, the minister who allows his children to grow up unruly and disobedient, will find that the influence of his labours in the pulpit is counteracted by the unlovely course of his children. He who cannot control the members of his own family, cannot properly minister to the church of God, or preserve it from strife and controversy.
Courtesy in the Home
There is danger of failing to give due attention to the little things of life. There should be no neglect on the part of the minister to speak kindly, encouraging words in the family circle. My ministering brother, do you, in the home circle, show rudeness, unkindness, impoliteness? If you do, no matter how high your profession, you are breaking the commandments. No matter how earnestly you may preach to others, if you fail to manifest the love of Christ in your home life, you are falling short of the standard set for you. Think not that the man who goes from the sacred desk to indulge in harsh, sarcastic remarks, or in jesting and joking, is a representative of Christ. The love of God is not in him. His heart is filled with self-love, self-importance, and he makes it manifest that he has not a true estimate of sacred things. Christ is not with
him, and he does not go weighted with the solemn message of truth for this time.
Ministers' children are in some cases the most neglected children in the world, for the reason that the father is with them but little, and they are left to choose their own employment and amusement. If a minister has a family of boys, he should not leave them wholly to the care of the mother. This is too heavy a burden for her. He should make himself their companion and friend. He should exert himself to keep them from evil associates, and should see that they have useful work to do. It may be hard for the mother to exercise self-control. If the husband sees this, he should take more of the burden upon himself, doing all in his power to lead his boys to God.
Let the minister's wife who has children remember that in her home she has a missionary field in which she should labour with untiring energy and unflagging zeal, knowing that the results of her work will endure throughout eternity. Are not the souls of her children of as much value as the souls of the heathen? then let her tend them with loving care. She is charged with the responsibility of showing to the world the power and excellence of home religion. She is to be controlled by principle, not by impulse, and she is to work with the consciousness that God is her helper. She is to allow nothing to divert her from her mission.
The influence of the mother who has a close connection with Christ is of infinite worth. Her ministry of love makes the home a Bethel. Christ works with her, turning the common water of life into the wine of heaven. Her children will grow up to be a blessing and an honour to her in this life and in the life to come.