I can’t say this enough… I love biographies! Okay, so I will admit: while I’m reading them I don’t LOVE them. They are sometimes filled with boring facts and often too detailed in things that get me lost. It happens every time. But when I get to the end, my faith is so built and encouraged and in this case, I am so inspired to press on in being a Missionary to my town, my friends, my family, my sphere of immediate influence and extended influence.
I was encouraged when I came to the biography of Hudson Taylor. However, I was also troubled by a few things I saw in his life. It is true, he left all- family, country, familiarity- to meet the spiritual needs of Inland China. He was resisted, he was mocked, he wore the chinese garb when no other missionaries were doing so. He lost a daughter, two sons, and a wife (and actually, his second wife died before him, as well.) He himself had serious health issues. He trusted the Lord through it all.
The issues I had were regarding his view toward his family and ministry and the balance of the two. When his daughter was on her death bed, he was sitting beside her and said, “I laid my wife and children with myself on the altar for this service.” To quote Mark Driscoll in his message on Ministry Marriages, “What is that? Idolatry… There was an occasion where a father nearly killed his son on an altar in the BIble. God came and said, ‘No. I’ll send My Son; you don’t need to sacrifice your son.'”
In addition to this, he sent his kids away so that he and his wife could commit themselves to the ministry. He sent his kids AWAY from him. His kids were his ministry! Why did he cast aside a ministry that God provided in exchange for another?
So, you can see why I was greatly disturbed by Taylor’s view and actions toward His own family.This is not our calling. He is not an example to ministry leaders or missionaries of how to reach the people. You don’t reach the people by neglecting your own little people. It is important, before (and while) pastoring a church or leading a mission, to pastor your family and be on mission with your wife and kids.
Hudson Taylor had a calling from God. He obeyed and pursued that calling with passion and singleness of mind and heart. He did neglect his main ministry for a secondary ministry, which is not just unfortunate, but unwise and disobedient to the overall call of God on the life of a husband and father. Nevertheless, we can still draw from his life.
Believer, you have a calling from God. Will you follow Him wherever He leads? Will you be faithful to His call? Good. But do it without irresponsibly sacrificing marriages and children on the altar of service and in idolatry, call it “ministry.”