I have always been "all in" when it comes to standing beside my husband in the local, pastoral ministry; however, even more than that, I have also been "all in" to raising my children to love Christ wholeheartedly and to make a difference for the kingdom of God.
While my husband was pastoring important business executives, lonely widows, dysfunctional families and new believers, I was pastoring little people with runny noses, strong wills and never-ending demands.
While my husband was planning holiday worship services, evangelistic outreaches and meaningful missions trips, I was trying to get a 2-year-old to take a nap ... an 8-year-old to practice the piano ... and a 12-year-old to take the dog outside.
And you know what? I wouldn't have changed it for the world!
Raising children in the ministry is a tricky and trying calling for parents. There are times in life when other people's needs and desires just seem more important and vital than what is happening in the family home. However, the call to faithfully raising your children with commitment and with attention is the most impactful ministry that you will ever have.
So, if like me, you have found yourself caught in the battle between ministry and raising children, I think that what I have learned from my years of raising a dynamic and Christ-centered family just might help you in setting important and lasting priorities.
First of all, protect your children from the tongues and from the expectations of others. There will always be those who criticize, who flatter and who gossip. Your children should be taught from the earliest age possible that Mom and Dad can be trusted to tell the truth and to be a safe place. Your children should not be "expected" to do anything in ministry except learn how to love Jesus.
Secondly, have candid and honest conversations about the challenges of ministry. Don't protect your children from the raw reality that people aren't perfect, and neither are their mom and dad. Pray for people who are difficult and train your children to reach out in love to those who are the most challenging of all. This is a principle of life—not just of those who are committed to the ministry.
And finally, point out the blessings that come your way simply because their dad and their mom are in the ministry. When someone invited our family for a day out on the boat, we would exclaim to our children, "They are doing this because your dad is a pastor!"
If someone handed us a gift card to a favorite restaurant, we would acknowledge, "Do you know why we were given this blessing? They gave it to us because your dad serves the Lord at church!"
As you raise your children in the midst of the often outrageous, always challenging and deeply blessed commitment to ministry, make sure that you protect your children, that you communicate fully with them and then that you express gratitude for the life you have been given.
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.
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