Two of the questions that I’m often asked is how a spiritual leader can keep his family a priority in the ministry and how we can encourage our children so they don’t feel resentful toward the ministry.
By God’s grace, all four of our children love the Lord and are serving in full time, local church ministry. Terrie and I praise the Lord for that, and we know it is due to God’s grace in their lives.
There were a few intentional actions on our part that I believe were helpful in our family life during the years that our children were in our home.
- Have daily family devotions. Regular family devotions knit your hearts together spiritually as a family. It becomes a time when children can depend on the family being together around God’s Word. Don’t lead a ministry spiritually but neglect to spiritually shepherd the hearts of your children in an intentional way.
- Remain available. Back in the day when we had no cell phones, I installed a private landline in my church study that did not ring to my secretary’s desk. My family knew that they could call any time to get direct access to me. Additionally, they knew they could walk in on any meeting or appointment if they needed me.
- Abstain from negative talk about the ministry. I truly believe that one of the reasons all four of our adult children are serving the Lord in ministry is because Terrie and I were vigilant about what we said. If a critical church member was gossiping, the Christian school enrollment was down, or the budget was tight, they never heard about it from either of us.
- Talk positively about the ministry. Share with your children the little victories that bring joy to you in ministry. When you get to lead someone to the Lord in a counseling appointment, when you get fresh direction for adding ministries, when you receive a thank you letter from a child who rides the bus…share these positive aspects of serving in ministry with your children.
- Serve together. One of the best ways to make time for your family is to include your family in ministry. Take one of your children with you when you go soulwinning, make hospital visits, visit your Sunday school class, etc. These times don’t replace family nights or day trips together or even family vacations, but they do allow regular time throughout the week to spend together doing something you are teaching your children to love.
- Share special memories. Invite guest missionaries or preachers to your home for meals. Take your children with you when attending an out-of-town meeting or going on a missions trip. After revival services or missions conference, talk together as a family about the special ways God worked in each of your hearts and the victories as a church of that week.
- Rejoice together. Celebrate ministry victories as a family. For instance, the first time we had three hundred people at church, we took our family to stay overnight in a hotel and went to the ocean. Not every victory will be an overnighter celebration, but many should be celebrated, if simply by ice cream sundaes.
Your most valuable relational treasures are your family. As a spiritual leader, you may have many to whom you minister. But your wife or husband has only one spouse, and your children have only one dad or mom. Include them. Encourage them. Be there for them.