"So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up." Deut 11:18-19 NLT
Pastoring a church is the most amazing experience! We get to share so many important moments with people: leading them to Christ, baptizing new believers, feeding the hungry, marrying young couples, mentoring leaders....such an honor! But full time ministry has brought challenges, too. And one of the toughest has been learning to balance the demands of ministry with the needs of our family.
Ministry has been a way of life for us for more than 20 years. Our children have always been right there with us as we served in music, youth and college ministry. Before we started Crossroads, we sat our children down, told them what we believed God wanted us to do, and asked for their input. They were with us: one for all and all for one! But I don't think any of us knew what we were signing up for...not really.
About eighteen months into this adventure, our kids complained we didn't spend enough time together as a family. We had been so busy planting a church, assuming our kids were right there with us (all for one and one for all...remember?), we barely noticed as our priorities shifted off center. That was a wake up call, and we've made several changes since then. And since all families, not just pastor's families have to be careful to stay in balance, I'll share some of the changes we made.
1. Have a sit down dinner together 2 or 3 nights a week. If you have little kids, this is very easy. But when your kids start driving, and all of them have extracurricular activities, friends, studies and jobs, this is very challenging unless you're intentional about it.
2. Plan at least 2 vacations a year. Nothing replaces time away from our daily routines. In the fall, we had a terrific 5 day/4 night trip to a cabin in the mountains. We rested, ate, explored, laughed....just had a wonderful time together! Whether "vacation" to you means theme parks or National parks, just get away...together.
3. Have daily devotions together. Wow. This one has had more impact on us than anything else! Weekday mornings at 7:00am, before school and work, we meet at the kitchen table for breakfast and devotions. Each day, we take turns sharing from "1 minute a day: Instant Inspiration for the Busy Life" by Dr. David Jeremiah. Each day has a theme, a scripture, and a relevant story. After devotions, we pray and go about our day, energized and nurtured by the time we spent together. I wish I could tell you my kids were really excited about this. Umm...not so much. They were very resistant at first, because it means getting up earlier. But it was worth powering through their objections! We are all growing spiritually, and we're more connected, too.
Today's scripture encourages us not to forget God's words, to teach them to our children when we're at home, when we're "getting up". Why not start tomorrow?
Prayer for today: Father, my children are gifts from You. I know you have asked me to train them in the way they should go, so that when they are grown, they won't depart from You, Your words, or Your ways. Help me to make time-every day-to share Your word with them. In Jesus' Name, Amen.