January 23, 2012

God's Family and Yours

Ministry can be a messy business. As a younger mom, I worried that the failings of God's family would make the church repulsive to the growing children in my natural family. I could shield them from a church member's excommunication-worthy sin, but I couldn't keep my children from hearing inconsiderate comments or from seeing the demands that people sometimes put on their pastor. In addition, my own example was never perfect.

But, the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of my children to bring them both to a love of the church that goes beyond my own. As our son, a pastor, said, "God's grace has made the difference." Recently, when I asked my adult children about being brought up in a ministry family, I was amazed that the things I worried about barely mattered to them. Instead of the rude comments, they remembered the adults in the church who were genuinely interested in them. They didn't recount the times that counseling took their father away from the family but thought fondly of the wise counsel he offered them in abundance.

Our son, Brent, understood that loving the church and having a good family life did not have to be in conflict or competition with each other. He remembers special times like an annual vacation to the beach and family traditions like making Christmas candy and assembling jigsaw puzzles.

In a similar way, our daughter, now a pastor's wife, felt that her parents' giving was not limited to church people. Megan mentioned that her father spent lots of time helping others understand the Bible and always had time for her theological questions, as well. She spoke of how I offered hospitality and yet made an effort to cook their favorites for family meals.

Both children stressed that friends within the church, adults and peers, helped give them positive experiences. "Our family cared about the church; the church cared about our family," according to Brent. For him, it was the role models in a men's Bible study group and the ministry of a fun loving woman who we "adopted" as an aunt. 

"I felt free to choose my own friends in the church," Megan said. Because of her social, outgoing nature, she forged some friendships for us, as well, with the parents of her friends. Megan also enjoyed relationships with kids outside of our church through the Christian school she attended. With them, she had her own identity as a regular kid. 

My worrying did not change a thing for our ministry family. Instead, it was God, who used all of life’s messiness and shaped my children as He willed. I am thankful that they are walking with Him.

7 comments:

  1. Very encouraging!

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  2. Thanks for this post, Patsy! Especially with all the transitions and traveling and demands on our family, I have often wondered about the spiritual effects on our children. I want them to love the Lord and His work, wherever that make take us. Sadly, I have knowns lots of "MKs" who grew bitter because they felt in competition with the ministry of their parents. I want to involve my kids as much as possible in the ministry outside our home, while remembering that my first mission field is playing in the living room right now. :) Oh, and one is calling to me from her bed upstairs!

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  3. Awesome testimony! It's comforting to know that when we do what we do for the Lord with the right motives that He will bless it. =)

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  4. Such a wonderful post. You have been blessed, most certainly.

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  5. Yet another wonderful reminder of God's abundant grace and mercy. As my children are leaving (or have already left) the nest, reading such testimonies is heartening. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. In the midst of raising three little boys, I'm glad to be reminded that my own memory of growing up as a PK "caught" the big picture of love, security, and God's glory and "lost" the details of the trials and and inconveniences. By God's grace, maybe my kids will do the same!

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