Recently, God picked up our family (out of a church that we were doing cartwheels to be able to serve), carried us right down the street (30 minutes down the interstate really), and dropped us into a whole new place where we get to serve Him. During the transplanting process, our kids (Rochelle, 17 and Lynae, 14) were asked how they liked their dad being a pastor. This was their response. “We really don’t see it as Dad’s job. So… we are a ‘ministry family’. This is something that God has called our family to and we do it together.”
“We really don’t see it as Dad’s job. So… we are a ‘ministry family’. This is something that God has called our family to and we do it together.”
No, I wasn’t feeding her talking points through an earpiece. And YES! My heart was jumping up and down. They had gotten it!! All of those years of having a pack-n-play for naps set up in Dad’s office, of picnics at church, of building the new stage sets for the latest sermon series, of brainstorming ideas for a Christmas sermon series to tell the Christmas story in a different way that would help our neighbors understand who Jesus is, of setting up chairs… and taking them down, again and again. Whenever there was an opportunity for us to serve together, we found a way to do it. When the kids were little, it required creativity and patience as they learned how to use a hammer and nails. But when they were older, they surprised us with their creativity and agility in learning how to use video cameras and mixers, lighting and projection systems. Because the ministry God had placed us in required all these things, it only made sense that our kids would learn how to serve using these tools – until they began to see what God had created them for and found their own tools to use.
It was common on long road trips for us to have conversations about how we could reach out to our growing Colorado community with the gospel of Christ. And it grew to be common for the kids to come up with some of the best ideas. But they weren’t just a part of conversations, they were a part of making those visions a reality, from stuffing envelopes (lots and lots of envelopes) to learning how to host dinners (lots and lots of dinners). They knew that in our family it’s definitely “One for all and all for one.” When one of us had an opportunity to serve Jesus, it was all hands on deck as we came alongside each other.
Now I’m fully aware that what I’m describing goes against the popular “wisdom” that I hear for ministry families. I’ve been hearing it for years – from books, blogs, and well -meaning people.
“You’ve got to create a wall around your family.”
“You need more boundaries.”
“You’ve got to create a separation between ministry and home life.”
I have had one question (OK, maybe two) in response to all these words of “wisdom”. Can you imagine our Jesus saying them? Can you imagine Him encouraging you to create a wall that communicates that your family needs protected from the Church, as though it is the enemy? Can you imagine Him encouraging you to raise your children to see ministry as a “job” and one that is separate from real life, to compartmentalize their faith to separate it from the mission that Jesus has for us?
I know this might be going against the grain and might make you nervous… but take a breath and see if this is something that God might want you to consider. Let me tell you about another time when our kids were able to remind us of God’s mission for us.
It was late, late, late one night during the first week of December. The four of us were spread out in the foyer of our church with yards and yards of black fabric (and I don’t mean 10 yards, I mean hundreds!) We were cutting tiny holes in the fabric and poking little twinkle lights through each hole. Sounds crazy but… we were creating a “starry night” to help our church family experience the wonder that the shepherds must have felt during that amazing night so long ago. We wanted them to feel awe and wonder as they entered their place of worship – and we decided together that this would be the best way to do that. After hours of working on this stage set, my husband, Craig, was getting tired. He confessed later that the tape he was playing in his head went something like this: “Hmm. I sent out a Facebook update that we would be here doing this. I wonder why no one else is here. Why doesn’t anyone care about this? I’m tired of doing this stuff by ourselves.” He was frustrated – and getting grumpy. But just in time, our Rochelle piped up with, “Can you believe we get to do this?? This is our Christmas gift to Jesus! This is what we get to give HIM!” Oh my precious girl! You reminded us of the gift that it is to serve Jesus – and to get to do it together, as a family.
Now I know what you might be thinking… “That sounds good for you, but I don’t have any of those things that we can jump in on.” We’ll get to that – it will take some creativity, but there are ways to embrace the calling God has put on your lives as a family. Or maybe you are thinking, “But there’s got to be boundaries. My family is going to get consumed! Plus, we need family time where we can just be ‘us’.” Totally get it! We’ll talk more about that in (several) other blogs. But for now, consider this:
“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our very lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8
Trust God to be your guard as you pursue Him and His calling on your lives, together, as a family, united in Spirit and purpose.
Things to Pray About:
What opportunities for ministry has God put in our family’s life that we can do together?
How can you help your kids see what you do for God as a gift to Him?