I had an entire blog post typed up and ready to send to publish for the Sanctuary blog. It was practical advice for raising kids in a ministry family, and I talked in detail about a few things that are important to me like prioritizing family time, keeping realistic expectations of your kids, and building genuine relationships as a family with people in your church. While I stand by those three things and truly do believe they have been pivotal in the health of my little family, it’s not what I’m going to share with you today. As I was rereading that piece and doing final edits before sending it over, I felt “the nudge.”
Chances are, since you’re in the ministry too, you know exactly what I’m talking about. When you’ve planned and prepared to share a message with a group of people, and then right at the last minute, the Holy Spirit gives that gentle nudge and whispers, “Great job, sister, but I have something even better. If you will, scoot over a bit and let Me speak through you.”
Yep. That’s exactly what happened to me.
Maybe I should give you a little background. I’m a “youngin," as some may call me. (Am I showing my Okie?) I’m 28-years-old, my husband and I have three kids, and we’ve been in ministry together for about 10 years. I was raised as a pastor’s kid, so I have all of my childhood years of ministry experience as well, but when it comes to raising kids in a ministry family, I only have five years under my belt.
FIVE YEARS?! Some of you are ready to move on to the next blog post. I know, I know. It’s not much time. I have many years ahead of me in this journey (prayerfully!) and a lot to learn along the way. But if you’re asking me about raising kids in a ministry family, there’s one thing that I know for sure is important.
I MUST CULTIVATE & MODEL A GENUINE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
This may sound very elementary to you. Seriously, Lindsay? I thought I was going to get some good parenting advice, and instead you’re talking to me about your relationship with God? Yes, yes I am. And here’s the two-fold reason why:
#1 (This one is probably a given.)
I am the best version of me when I’m walking closely with the Lord. When I’m abiding in Him, I am able to parent from a place of grace. Whether I’m in ministry or not, a genuine, life-giving relationship with God will be the catalyst to health in every other area of my life, including raising my kids. The words I speak to them, the attitudes I demonstrate for them, the acts of service I do for them—it all flows from my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
#2 (This is the one I really want to drive home today.)
If my babies are raised in a ministry family, go to church every time the doors are open, learn all the Bible stories, memorize all of the memory verses, earn all the badges and crowns, but never learn what it means to have a personal relationship with God…it’s all for nothing.
I know that feels like a punch-you-in-the-gut kind of statement, but mama, it’s the truth. I have the choice whether I am going to raise “good kids” or Jesus-loving, Jesus-following kids. My kids can know all the right Bible answers and have excellent behavior in public (ha! It’s funny even to type it!), but if they don’t know how the gospel changes their very own lives, what does it even matter?
...if they don’t know how the gospel changes their very own lives, what does it even matter?
It is crucial that being raised in a ministry family does not become the crutch on which my kids lean for the rest of their lives. Perfect church attendance, A+ Bible knowledge, and even good behavior will never be a substitute for a personal relationship with God. As parents, we must teach our kids what it looks like to truly walk with God day in and day out.
Do you know how they learn it? By our modeling.
I let my children see me reading the Word because I want them to know that it breathes life into my soul and gives me wisdom for my days.
When I allow my patience to run out and I raise my voice at them, I try to reclaim the moment as an opportunity to model the realities of repentance, grace, and forgiveness.
When I’m discouraged, afraid, or hurt, I let my kids hear me turn to Jesus in prayer, showing them that He gives me peace in all of my circumstances.
When someone is healed from sickness or we see a miracle take place, we celebrate and give glory to God because we want our kids to know that God is faithful and powerful.
These are just a few examples of ways I invite my kids in and allow them to see a genuine walk with the Lord. It happens in the everyday, ordinary, and even imperfect moments. It doesn’t mean over-spiritualizing every circumstance. It simply means pointing out the ways God is moving in my life so they are able to see the ways He is moving in their own.
One day, they’ll pack their bags and make a new place their home. My prayer is that when that day comes, they each have a solid foundation for their personal relationship with God. I pray that they will have learned how to trust in God, how to hear His voice, how to know Him more deeply every single day.
I know there are many seasoned, wise ministry mamas out there who can give you some incredibly helpful and valuable pointers for raising kids in a ministry family. I hope to speak more on this a few years down the road when I have a little more experience and authority on the topic. For now, thanks for allowing me to share this simple, yet powerful truth with you today. I pray you are encouraged on your journey of motherhood and ministry!
My First Disciples is Entry Four of Sanctuary's blog series, Parenting from the Front Pew. What struggles have you encountered in raising children with the challenges that ministry can bring to the preacher's family?
Lindsay and her husband Josh of 8.5 years have been in full-time ministry for about 10 years. "I would say my ministry philosophy has been shaped by the opportunities I’ve had to serve in a few different churches ranging in size, style, and demographic. In every church and in every ministry in which I’ve served, I have seen the power and importance of the local church." Being a mama of three under five, Lindsay doesn't have much free time, but when she finds some, she loves to spend time with her husband, read or write, and enjoy the beautiful Alaska scenery. Lindsay's greatest passion in ministry is discipleship, especially among women. "It blesses me to see women taking part in genuine, life-giving community and growing in God’s word together." To read more of Lindsay's work, check out her site or follow her on Instagram.