Yesterday I got a text from Carrie of a Facebook memory that popped up on her page. One of the things I was so glad to be able to do in youth ministry was involve her, Sam, and Gray. It was a joy to take Sam along on mission trips and fellowships. He got to hang around 30 aunts and uncles who didn't mind him tagging along and played with him, he got to see that serving God is a joy, and as a bonus I got some extra time with my mini-me.
In ministry, you'll find yourself available and engaged at times that aren't always convenient. No one plans their emergencies around your family time or evening commitments, and because many of the people in your church work full-time you'll have meetings and events scheduled when they are available. That's part of what you sign up for.
I think it's also why it's so important for you to engage in ministry with your family. They are part of your ministry and an extension of your impact in the church and community. Sadly, many PKs look back on their childhood and don't have happy memories of ministry. By involving your family, you're showing them that serving Jesus is a joy, it lets them into your world, and it helps them understand that ministry opportunities come up and that it's OK.
Be Sensitive - Not everyone wants your kid tagging along. Sometimes hospitals have specific rules about who is allowed to visit (the ICU doesn't let anyone under 12 in). Other times it's not a situation that you need to have your spouse around. So use wisdom when deciding whether or not to take your kid or spouse along with you. I had a great new member visit with a couple who didn't mind my 2 year old playing on their floor. He got to hang out with Daddy, and it helps our people see where my priorities are.
Use Your Car Time Well - Whether you're visiting the hospital or nursing home or following up with a visitor/guest contact, use the time in the car to help understand what you're doing and why. Explain that sometimes people need someone there to pray with them or encourage them, and that's what God wants us to do for each other.
Don't Lose Focus - It can be very easy to slip into full-on family mode, but whenever your family is involved in ministry with you, they're doing it while you're "on the job." So it's important to make sure that your attention is where it needs to be, while not neglecting your family. That's what I love about cell phones. As a youth pastor, I could check in with students/chaperones via text while on an event.
Keep It Fun - When my kids get older, I want them to remember that serving Jesus was something they enjoyed doing, was something I enjoyed doing. I want Carrie to look back on these chapters and remember them well. One pastor I knew shared that whenever he did a funeral, the honorarium he received was for his family to go to Chuck E Cheese. It got to where his kids wanted him to do funerals all the time!
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.