Will Our Children Resent Our Ministry?

On Monday, we are starting a new after school program in our community. Engaging and helping children has been a significant part of lives over the past four years. In fact, this will be the third after school program we've helped launch in that time. (You can read about the first and second, both in Allendale, SC).

While we are excited about this starting up, we know it won't always be easy for our family. This two-day-a-week program will occur on the busiest days of the week for our family. (We chose those days because they were best for the community). I know there will be times when we (me, my wife, and our kids) just won't feel energized about it.

When it comes to ministry, I think that's a common feeling. If you are never worn out and stretched by ministry, then it probably means you aren't sacrificing enough.

Of course, you could feel stretched and still not be sacrificing enough, but that may mean that you have things in your life that need to go, so that you can do more ministry (inside and outside of the church). We have had to say "no" to some good opportunities for our children, since they might distract us from our core calling to serve others.

If you are a parent, you know that time is a precious resource. You probably ask questions like . . .
How do I balance my time between family and ministry? 
What do I do with my kids? Should they be involved in my ministry? 
How will all my ministry affect my children? Will they become bitter and resentful?

How should we answer these valid concerns? 

Biblical Principles

Before I give the benefits of letting your children suffer and struggle in ministry, let me make a couple of over-arching statements:
  1. Jesus (or Paul or any New Testament writer, for that matter) never taught us to balance our time. Jesus asks for 100% of our life. Yes, we should get rest and downtime, but that has more to do with pursuing God than it does with our family's recreation. 
  2. Family does trump ministry, to an extent. This may seem contradictory to the first point. But the issue here is motive. You need to ask why you are involved in a certain ministry? Is it because of self-satisfaction or praise from others? Or maybe it's a fear of man issue (as I struggle with), so that I labor because I don't want others to think less of me. When I was on staff at our church, the leaders regularly emphasized that our work as pastors was subordinate to our roles as husbands and fathers.

The Blessings in the Struggle

That being said, let me outline a few ways that your children will benefit for having to sacrifice and struggle.
  1. They will be able to obey God's call, in that we are to serve others. Jesus models the perfect example of serving (Mark 10:45) and being sent by God (John 6:57). By following His example, our children get the opportunity to be God's image-bearers.
  2. They will begin to discover and utilize the gifts that God has given them. By us working with children, our daughter has realized how much she enjoys the same. She has become more skilled and nurturing in this process. Now, as she uses these gifts, she can show others how she is God's masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10).
  3. They will learn that life doesn't revolve around them. Every time our children sacrifice, we remind them that their lives are to be about Jesus, not about themselves. They learn that working hard and blessing others is reward enough.
  4. They will be able to serve alongside us, or at least see us serve. When we were in Allendale, the Best Part of My Job was that our family was together all the time at my job, at our ministry. And even if you must serve without your children, it's good for them to miss you some.
  5. They will have the chance to build their own relationships. They will get to be someone else's friend, and they will give others the chance to be their friend. When we told our kids that we would be leaving Allendale, they were deeply sad, because of the friends they made. They truly engaged and connected with their community.

Ministry is a discipleship issue. In sacrificial service, we are able to help our children know Christ more and grow more like Him.

And along the way, we parents get the same blessings.

Your Turn . . .

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