When God first called me to serve Him in ministry I had no idea that how I served could influence my children toward or away from ministry, or even serving God at all. As I speak to leaders today, I encourage them to always remember that family is your first ministry, not your last one.
Ed Stetzer recently wrote this post on the subject for ministry leaders and I want to encourage you to read it carefully. Following up on his five main points, let’s turn them around into a positive thing to do as a leader. You might also want to read Dr. Thom Rainer’s blog post for more on this subject. Even if your kids are not pastor’s kids, I think as a ministry leader you can relate this to your own family members as well.
Here were his five ways he says we turn children away from ministry:
- Put the ministry before your family.
- Tell them how much is expected of them as a pastor’s kid.
- Tell them about church conflicts as often as possible.
- Look godlier at church than when you are at home.
- Act more like a live-in, full-time pastor at home, rather than a parent.
Turning those into something we can do, let’s consider these:
- Spend time daily considering how you are serving your family. Have you looked each person in your home in the eye and asked how they are doing? Have you prayed for and with them? Help them see they are as or more important as ministry outside the home. Have you ever asked them to be a part of the ministry where you are serving? Or, have you helped them discover places they too can serve elsewhere according to their passions and giftedness?
- Never compare family members with those you consider “more spiritual.” Don’t make them feel like their behavior makes or breaks your other ministry.
- Be supportive of your church and it’s leadership even if you do not agree with all the decisions. If you complain each time something doesn’t go your way, your family members may begin to only see the negative about their church.
- How does your attitude at church compare to your attitude at home? Do you wear your “I’ve got it all together” face to church and exhibit a positive outlook about church, and then when you get home it goes downhill? Honestly, be who you are in Christ wherever you are so that your family members understand, your walk with Christ directs ALL of your life and relationships.
- Remember, you may be a leader at church and make lots of decisions, but when you get home, do not treat your family as though they are your latest ministry project. These are your life long relationships. Help them to be a part of even your ministry decisions. Ask them to pray for you as you serve.. When new opportunities open up, share with them the time and focus it will take. Ask them to pray with you for God’s direction whether to be involved or not.
How painful it would be to feel called to serve Christ as a volunteer or as a vocation but destroy those lifelong relationships that are most important to you as you follow that call. Ask God how you can serve your family first and how you can model this service to those women you lead.