Catching up? This is the final part; here's Part 1 and Part 2.
Jesus clearly says in Matthew 19 that children are members of His kingdom. And in Romans 12, the Scriptures teach us that members of the kingdom are called to be useful in service. Children, your children, ministry children are kingdom workers!
And your children, as ministry kids, will have unique opportunities to serve the body. One of the privileges of being in a ministry family is the multiple and obvious opportunities that arise daily to serve God. And, encouraging your children in kingdom work is one of the chief ways you can encourage them to love the church.
Let me give you 3 goals for encouraging your children:
Make Age-Appropriate Tasks a Privilege of Kingdom Work. No other group of children will get as many opportunities to give up their rooms for missionaries, to visit the sick and elderly, or to help with preparations for meals of hospitality. As you do these tasks, together, you can talk about how the Lord is pleased to use them in His kingdom.
One of my strongest impressions of being a pastors’ kid is that kingdom work was a team effort. My dad may have been the one up front preaching, and my mom was the one publishing the church newsletter, but we kids were the ones who set the table when people came for dinner. My parents taught me to believe that joyfully laying out forks and knives was kingdom work; and it is!
Make Loving God’s People a Privilege of Kingdom Work. God’s people are sinners and are sometimes hard to love. But they are also eternally loved by God who sent Christ to die for them. We can help our children to love God’s people by modeling love in our own words and attitudes.
I hear again and again from moms of ministry kids how important it is to speak well of the people in your church, to pray for them, to encourage interaction with them. The famous “love chapter” in Corinthians tell us that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (I Corinthians 13:17); we want to be sure this kind of love is the fundamental attitude we communicate to our children.
A friend in campus ministry fosters positive interactions with God’s people by assigning her kids (age 6 & 8) to learn something about two different students after each meeting. It has become a family game, with everyone sharing their new facts in the car on the way home, and learning to know and love God’s people in the process.
Make “Giving Up Dad” a Privilege of Kingdom Work. It is a fact of the Christian life that we are sometimes called to sacrifice what we would like for what would most glorify God. For ministry kids (and this was so in my own childhood) their biggest sacrifice may be the time and attention of their dad.
Now, I’ve already said that pastors’ kids need spiritual nurture, and that they need parents, but they also are kingdom workers called to serve God and this will mean, for many of them, “giving up dad”.
With some regularity, our boys will be poised in the batter's box (the door mat) ready for some baseball with their dad, when the phone will ring with a ministry need, leaving them disgruntled and waiting. I've been there, too, (and I've posted elsewhere about my struggle) and the Lord has to remind me of how easy it is to be a ministry wife. If my husband had a different job, chances are I'd still have lonely hours, and I would still be called to support him and give him up cheerfully. God has made it so easy for me; when I have to give up my husband, I can draw a direct line between my sacrifice and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.
Your children, especially young ones, are concrete thinkers, and they’ll be able to make that connection, too, if you encourage them with your words and attitude. When they are left stranded on homeplate, it's my job to teach them that “Giving up Dad” is something we can do cheerfully for Jesus!
In this series of posts, I've proposed that ministry kids are: sinners who need a Savior, kids who need parents, and kingdom workers who need encouragement.
What's your experience?