I love being with my family, I absolutely love it! Are our children perfect? Just come spend a day in the Ross home as we fuss, yell, whine, and cry; your perfect social media family will be shattered. There are occasions our sinfulness is on full display and Joy and I want to go on a parenting sabbatical. But we still love being with and investing in our children, we live for it!
Over the years I have made it a priority to include my children in my ministry. When I was pastoring a local church, my children would consistently participate in local and global mission trips, join me making hospital visits, travel with me to preach, spend time at the office, make prospect visits, and a number of other ministry activities. Joy and I had a calendar and a plan. We were committed to leveraging our ministry and having focused intentionality in leading our children.
Investing in your children if you are a pastor or in ministry can be a tricky undertaking. The demands of ministry at times seem insurmountable, inserting your children could feel overwhelming and unwise. But let me encourage you, If God has called you to shepherd the flock do not forfeit the opportunity to include your children in your ministry.
I am making two huge assumptions:
1. Everyone has commons sense and will use it when taking their kids:) Are there times you should not include your children? Absolutely, I would never take my kids into conflict, counseling, abuse, or tragedies.
2. You will make it "worthwhile". I was going to use the word "fun", but praying over someone who has terminal cancer is not fun, however it can be a teachable moment. If you are Big Chief "No Fun" and make everything over the top serious, don't take your kids.
Although I could write many reasons for involving your kids in ministry, here are three that stick out for Joy and I:
1. You are modeling a love for your kids.
Involving your children in ministry clearly models that you love them. Ministers should be doing ministry, enough of this I cannot neglect my family as an excuse for being lazy. If God called you to ministry he called you to unexpected hours, unplanned meetings and difficult people, it is part of the call. Ministry will and has to happen. Be intentional, when possible take your children with you every chance you can. They will love spending time with you and you will model love for them. Involving your children in ministry is a declaration of your love and commitment for them.
2. You are teaching them discipline.
"My kids would never act right if I took them with me?" That statement deserves an entire response, in a later post. Nevertheless it is the calling of a pastor to manage his household well, your children should be able to participate in ministry at an age appropriate level. My 6, 8, 9, & 11 year old will be disciplined enough to sit in someones home or a hospital room for thirty minutes while I minister, visit and pray. In our cultural climate of catering to our children, our expectations for how our children should behave have fallen to an all time low.
3. You are encouraging them in the faith.
Allowing your children to participate in ministry encourages them in their faith journey. Whenever my children are allowed to pray, serve, or share it is an opportunity for them to own their faith. As I model servant leadership through ministry I am informally discipling my children to hopefully do the same when I am not around. Over the years I have seen first hand how involving my children in ministry has played a part their conversion and growth as a christian.
Don't waste your ministry and don't waste your parenting, leverage God's call in your life and share it with your children for their good and God's glory.