In our last article we looked at children and the ministry and some of the problems that you may experience. We also looked at how to handle criticism of your children. Now we want to go a step further. If you and your husband are in full-time Christian service, what are some things that you can do to help your children overcome some of the challenges that they will face, simply because they are part of your family?
First, treat them like children. Just like other children, they are going to need lots of love, attention, and discipline. Just because your children are preacher’s kids or missionary kids does not mean they will automatically be perfect. They need to be trained, they need to be loved, and most important of all, they need to know that they are more important to you than your ministry.
As I mentioned last time, if you put unrealistic expectations on your children in the hopes of making your ministry look better, your children will resent it and most likely will rebel. If you base their need of “good behavior” on what others will think or on what others will say or on the fact that their father is a preacher, your child will grow up hating the church and hating the church members. Just like any child, discipline and correction needs to be based on the Word of God and pleasing God, not on what others think.
Second, pray for your children. We know that Satan does not like anyone who is serving the Lord, and he will do everything he can to destroy your ministry and ruin your testimony. One of the ways he will try to accomplish that is through your children. Your greatest defense in this battle is praying for your children. Pray for their salvation, for their growth as a Christian, for their testimony, and that they will make wise choices in their life. Let your children know that you are praying for them. And let them hear you praying for them!
Third, remember that as a mother, your children are your greatest ministry. God has given you those children to nurture and raise for His honor and glory, and they are to be, next to your husband, your greatest priority. Don’t let the work of the ministry take that place. Don’t get so caught up in all that you are doing at church that you neglect your children.
Fourth, help your children to feel that they are a part of the ministry. If they see it as just Dad’s ministry or as Dad and Mom’s ministry, they will grow to resent the church and all it represents. Let them help in different ways to feel that they are also a part. Take them with you as you make visits on church members. On the other hand, don’t have your children doing so much around the church that they feel like they are slaves. Don’t take advantage of them just because they are your children. There needs to be a balance.
Fifth, teach them that it is a privilege to serve the Lord. Don’t ever tell them that they are having to sacrifice because their father is a preacher. Don’t tell them that they are missing out on a lot of things because their father is in the ministry. This attitude will only sow the seeds of rebellion in your children.
Teach your children the blessings of serving the Lord. Yes, there will be some things expected of them because they are in your family. But those things should be seen as an honor, not as a curse. Teach them that loving and pleasing the Lord is the most important thing in their life. Stress the importance of the Lord’s church in their life, and the importance of their father’s ministry. Teach them how to behave in church, how to sit and listen quietly, and how to listen to the messages.
I can say, from my own personal experience, that being a preacher’s kid is one of the greatest blessings on earth! My father was a pastor, and I learned first-hand what it means to grow up in a preacher’s home. Yes, there were things that I did not like about it. But as I look back now, I count it a privilege and a blessing. I am thankful for that heritage.
Beverly is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and Doug Hammett have been married for over 35 years. Since her father was a pastor and her husband was already a pastor when she married him, she is well acquainted with the blessings as well as the problems of the ministry! Bev’s favorite things to do are read and spend time with her family.
In Autumn of 2010, Doug stepped aside from his position as senior pastor at LVBC to reach and train men in Botswana and South Africa. Beverly continues to write for our ladies publication, giving her unique perspective of life in the ministry, and now life on the mission field. You can read more about their ministry here.