Because some of you asked for advice on this topic, here it is!
Raising your kids in the ministry.
Being in the ministry is hard enough even without bringing kids into it!
People can be messy.
And trying to deal with hurt, judgments, and misunderstandings can be so difficult…just as a woman!
Not to mention teaching your kids how to deal with all of that!
I have to learn how to be the support for my husband that he needs, and I have to learn how to balance my family and my household before ministry even comes into the picture.
You throw a couple businesses in the mix, homeschooling, and any other thing and it takes some serious purposeful planning!
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t understand the life of pastor at all, making this whole balance thing even harder.
Because I like lists, I am just going to give you five tips that I have learned from the experience of growing up as a pastor’s kid, as well as raising my kids while my husband is in full time ministry.
1. Always. And I mean, always keep your personal relationship with Jesus first.
I don’t mean your ministries, your Bible studies or your outreach.
I mean your personal time with Jesus.
This means your time in God’s word, and your prayer life.
I know that it is hard, especially when your kids are little. But setting them up in a pack and play with a few toys, putting on a movie (yes, I just said that *judgment-free-zone) or giving a snack can totally work to make sure you have even 15 minutes of alone time with God.
You need it. Don’t lose sight of that. We need to stay close to the vine, or we will shrivel up and die without it.
Make the time. Make the time. Make the time.
Your kids will get to know what that means. Even this morning, my kids asked if I could play football outside with them, and I just could not even think about it until I had read my Bible.
They got it. They know what my priority is, and they respect that.
(they also know how mom acts when she hasn’t read her Bible! Ha!)
2. Never talk bad about your husband in front of your kids.
I mean this with all of my heart. This can start when your kids can’t even talk yet. You pick them up to go and change their dirty diaper while muttering “I guess daddy is too tiiired to change you, what else is new?” Don’t even let yourself get in the habit of putting your husband down. It does no one any good. It gets trickier when they are older.
Notice I said not to talk bad about your husband in front of them? If you thought you were off the hook with that one, just hold the phone!
Do you ever roll your eyes at him in front of them? ouch.
Our facial expressions can say more than even our words can say.
It can portray disgust, disrespect, annoyance, and anger.
Don’t let it. It’s not easy sometimes, and it will take some practice. But it will be practice well spent.
Raise your kids to know that you have respect and love and support for their daddy, and for the position that God has called him to.
Don’t forget that the order we need to have as our priority is our husbands before our kids! Make time for your husband consistently. He needs to know he is safe at home and that he can trust his wife.
3. Never talk bad about the leaders in your church in front of your kids.
Are you seeing a pattern here that involves our mouth?
We can so easily look past our comments, without realizing that it is affecting the kind of world view we may be raising our kids to have.
Church leadership is an incredibly difficult position.
A lot of times, church members sit in a pew and literally have no understanding of the pressure, the demands, the stress and strain of families in church leadership.
Because the enemy is alive and well, he knows how to stir things up and try and defeat us and our churches.
Did you know that approximately 1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month?!
Most of the time, people in full time ministry are very underpaid and overworked.
Throw along with that struggles in feeling like you don’t have any true friends you can really trust?
And you have the potential for a hot mess on your hands.
This, my friends, is why #1 is so important.
I gotta tell you. Keeping your relationship with Jesus tight, is the only thing that can keep you afloat.
I can not tell you how many times I have heard people criticize my father and my husband.
It is hard on them, and it is hard on the heart of the wives and children as well.
Just keep your mouth shut. Let love cover a multitude of sins. Be slow to speak. Be slow to cast judgment. Be quick to forgive, to show grace and mercy. If you don’t agree with a co-pastor or leader, for the love of Peter, be Biblical! I could so easily become bitter if I am not careful, and I would absolutely pass on that bitterness to my children.
When you are criticizing your church leaders, you are criticizing God-given authority.
You are also showing your kids that it is ok to put down what that God-given authority is saying.
Don’t forget that it is these same men you are putting down who are advising your kids to stay pure, to keep God first, and to honor their parents.
Do you want them doubting that kind of advice? I don’t think so. Keep yourself from bitterness, and keep your kids from bitterness.
4. Communicate ministry boundaries with your kids.
Let your children know that God comes first. Your husband comes second. Your kids come next, and ministry follows.
Communicate with them the times that you are going to need to be focused on ministry.
We take our kids with us to The Porch every day. I have already sat down with them at home and reminded them that they are my priority over ministry. Hands down. However, when I am at the youth center for those 2 1/2 hours, I have to be focused on the teens that come in.
It doesn’t mean that I ignore them, it just means that during those specific hours I will be playing games and serving the teens first. Establishing the boundaries ahead of time allows them to feel secure and have an understanding of us sacrificing to serve God.
Tell them that Sunday mornings from 9-12, you are going to be talking to a lot of people, and trying to meet their needs. Then tell them that you will be home with them from 3:00 on and you will have a family movie night, or a game night. Let them know that you are specifically planning your work and your family time.
5. Revaluate frequently and be open to change.
Once you have your schedule all in place. You have your plans all made. You have your life all set.
Don’t set it on auto mode!
Things change. Life changes. We need to be flexible and go along with the changes sometimes.
Revaluate how things are working in the ministry.
Maybe planning 3 small groups for three different nights of the week sounded like a brilliant plan.
But then you started feeling burnt out. Your baby started teething, or your child started going through an emotional stage of life.
Be open to change.
It’s ok to switch things up after a little time, and either assign a different person to run an aspect of the ministry, or to stop it for a while all together!
Be open to the Spirit’s leading, and wives? Be open to your husbands authority.
(them’s fightin’ words, I know!)
But ultimately, our husbands are our God given authorities and they have to answer to God for the way they are running their families. I absolutely believe that we as wives can add so much to the decisions our husbands need to make. And God put us together because he knew we needed each other.
But show trust not only in your husband, but in God.
God is in control. He has plans for your family, and He can be trusted.
We are called by God for an incredibly difficult but necessary work.
2 Corinthians 12:15 says it best, and is a verse I have literally read over and over through tears.
I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.
The people that I put the most time into, are often the very ones that walk away from my life as if they never even cared about me in the first place.
Just this week, I had my son say to me about a person who left our church…”it makes me wonder if they ever really liked me at all”.
Ohhh..heart wrenching for a mother to hear.
But it gave me the opportunity to remind him –
We are serving Christ. We leave the rest to Him. We don’t allow ourselves to get bitter, or to not trust the next person that walks into our lives.
We just trust. We gladly spend ourselves no matter what.
God will reward and it is Him who we serve.
Keep holding on, Pastor’s wives, ministry workers wives, missionaries wives.
Keep holding on.
It’s a high calling, and we will receive a heavenly prize if we press on!