I’m thankful that Barnabas Piper, son of John Piper, has addressed this question and given some practical advice on the matter. I’m in ministry, and I want to take testimony like this to heart. It is too easy to excuse fatherly absenteeism because of ministry and work.
Here’s a bit from Barnabas’s helpful Gospel Coalition essay:
Yes, you are called to pastor your family, but PKs want a dad—someone who plays with them, protects them, makes them laugh, loves their mom, gives hugs, pays attention, teaches them how to build a budget and change the oil and field a ground ball. We want committed love and warmth. We want a dad who’s not a workaholic. It’s hypocritical to call your congregation to a life of love, sacrifice, and passionate gospel living while neglecting your own family. If a mortgage broker or salesman works too much at 60 hours a week, so do you. Leave work and be present for your kids. Your children will spit on your pastoring if they miss out on your fathering.
Read the whole thing–and pray to be a godly dad whose first priority because of gospel transformation is his family, not his church.
In fact, saying that very formulation to yourself on a regular basis might help. Our “verbal liturgy” matters on a daily basis. What we say regularly to ourselves and others forms the way we think about things. Building from this must be acts of sacrifice in which we–not our kids!–sacrifice. If we constantly are asking our family to excuse our absences, we are not leading in a Christlike way. As the Christic heads of homes, we bear the burden of sacrifice, which means turning down opportunities that would compromise our headship in a practical way. (It doesn’t mean, though, that we become “dad moms,” thus passing the buck of provision. Nope. No way.)
We are husbands and fathers first, then churchmen, not the other way around. So pastor your family, and say no to lots of things that would take your focus away from your wife and then your children.