Tonight, while my husband and I were in the middle of performing a counseling session at church, one of my kids thought he would dial 9-1-1 for fun. He had no clue that it would actually work. Or that two police officers would actually show up to the church. Or that it would scare them all so badly that the babysitter started crying, and my kid started crying, which made 3 of my other 4 kids start crying. HA! Earlier that day, my two boys (ages 6 and 4) thought it would be a great idea to throw one of their shoes into a drain and watch it come out into a retention pond/creek behind our church. Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyways, today consisted of lots of disciplining and correcting and talking with our kids. Add this to the demands of a typical Sunday for a youth pastor/music director and his wife and you get why Sundays can be the most chaotic day of the week for us. Lol. So…why? Why do we CHOOSE to endure this kind of craziness and how can we still be effective in ministry with five kids ages 6 and under? And how could we ever say that we may not be finished having children? These things just aren’t normal in today’s society so why can’t we just conform to today’s “norm” and call it quits in ministry and consider five children “way too many”? A lot of people would make claims that we should stop having kids so we can focus on other people’s kids…which is a legitimate claim since we have surrendered to a life of ministering to teenagers. Others may think that we should just get out of the ministry completely, get normal jobs and raise our kids without the demands of ministry life. I’m not here to say that I have all of the answers, however I can offer my humble opinion on the subject.
1 – We are parents first. That’s right. We have been directly given five of the most adorable kids ever. Guess what other adjective describes our kids? They are…gulp…sinners. That’s right. They were born with the same sinful nature as we were born with. They aren’t perfect. They were born to two parents who love them and who want to love the Lord and serve Him with our lives. They each have different personalities, and struggle with different temptations. But guess what? We love them dearly more than any other kids on this planet. God’s perfect plan was that we have these specific children. And you know what? I’m okay if he decides that we have no more children and I’m also okay if He decides that we have five more children. I can’t imagine life without my twins (babies 4 and 5) and thank God every day that I didn’t stop having kids once we “got our girl”. I would’ve missed out on these precious baby girls that recently came into our lives. Sometimes God’s ways aren’t the ways of our society at the time. Sometimes God has other things in mind. I don’t know everything, but I do know that God has blessed us greatly and allowed us to be parents. Our “mini congregation” before any other congregation that Josh will preach to is first our kids. They aren’t “in our way”, they aren’t an inconvenience, they aren’t a misfortune and they aren’t a mistake. They are direct gifts from a loving and giving God. Our ministries in life may change but our kids will not change. We love and invest in them first.
2 – God has given my husband and I a passion. It’s for people, specifically teenagers. We know that we don’t want to go through this life working away the minutes, making lots of money and buying lots of “things”. There is more to this life and we want to use the breath we are given to serve our Creator. He’s the reason we have been given life and we want to honor Him with that life. We love our own children, but we also love other people’s children. Sometimes the balance can be difficult. Is it hard to find babysitters sometimes? Of course! Do our kids make it harder for us to serve at church sometimes? Of course! Do we have to do drastic things sometimes just to be able to take our teens to a youth conference for a week, like fly my parents to Texas from their home state of Florida? Yes! Lol. But it all boils down to this. God called us to be parents and God called us to the ministry. We love both and we will make both work. Sometimes that means you bring your kids to church and finish dressing them in the car so that your husband isn’t late for orchestra practice. Sometimes that means lowering your pride and accepting a helping hand from someone twice your age. Sometimes that means that “family night” is a trip to a local school to see one of your teenagers play a volleyball or football game or perform in their marching band. Somehow and some way, the Lord will work it all out. Even on the most chaotic days.
3 – It’s not unfortunate that our kids were born to a ministry family, so don’t feel sorry for them – it’s a privilege. They get to see upfront and personal how challenging ministry is and they will see early in life that Christians and churches aren’t perfect. Some kids, like me, grow up thinking that their church has zero problems. What a wake-up call my husband and I got when first entering church ministry. We found out super quickly that churches are full of sinful people and that Satan has a target on our backs since we are in the “spotlight”. Our kids will grow up learning this about Christianity and ministry and will not have to be hit hard with the truth later in life. Perhaps this will better prepare them to be armed with the Armor of God. When others are suddenly realizing that church is “full of hypocrites” and abandoning church all together, our kids will have known that their whole lives. No surprise there! However, they will also get to see hardened hearts break with conviction and tears poured out before our Savior. They will see changed lives. They will also hopefully learn, as we learn daily, how to better think of others and how to better serve and love others. These super little kids of ours will not always be little. They will grow into teenagers and adults themselves. What a privilege to be able to teach them, while they are still young, through first-hand experience.
4 – “If God has called you to it, He will bring you through it.” – Ever heard of this quote? It’s so accurate! He’s called us to be parents and He’s called us to be in full-time ministry. He will somehow someway make it work. If he calls us to parent more children, so be it. If he calls us to Zimbabwe, so be it. His plan is perfect and it’s our job to obey His leading. Guess what that means? Aunt Bee’s opinion that you should only have 2.25 kids and no more….well, her opinion doesn’t effect your decisions. Mr. Disagrees-with-Everything’s comment that your hands are way too full to also be effective in ministry just rolls right off of your back.
Bottom-line…When the naysayers speak their minds, when you fall into bed with exhaustion at night, and when discouraging parent and ministry times undoubtedly come…you smile and move forward with the life that God has planned just for you. Why? Because life is short, our Savior matters most and it’s a privilege to serve Him.