In the last three weeks, I had an very similar and interesting experience. I was at a round table with a number of pastors and with one of them individually a few weeks later. As we talked about pastoral principles in both settings, the conversation turned to the role as a parent.
Being a parent is hard work. Think of what it takes to run your own life and then, add a number of “lives in development.” With kids who have grown up and out of the house, each year came with new challenges physically, mentally, emotionally, financially and spiritually. Then, add the role of a pastor where people will evaluate your kids as a comment on your spirituality. The men who I know are hungry to find the balance of fulfilling the call that God has on their life and growing their families to love and pursue God. In both conversations, I was recognized as an “older” pastor who has gone through the journey and has three kids who love God. When I heard this, it doesn’t fill me with pride. It actually is quite humbling. Kristin and I worked very hard to share Jesus with our kids. In the end, they had to make the decision to accept Christ and then own their relationship with God. They have made a lot of good choices and some bad. (Haven’t we all.) But what did we do…those are the specifics they want to know.
Make Time for your Kids. When my kids were in preschool, I was a Children’s Pastor in Orlando. With multiple services and my own group of elementary school kids to minister to each weekend, how did I make time for my own kids? Kristin brought a “picnic” to church and when I had a “window” between services, I would sit with them while they ate. I asked them about their classes, enjoyed their crafts and loved on them. Then, it was off to the next service. As they grew older, I would take them with me to set up services and would have them involved in a lot of the prep work. I let them see that they were just as important as each child in the ministry.
No special favors. In fact, I really worked hard to make sure that my kids did not get special treatment. Sometimes, this was hard on them. For example, there was a time the youth at GFC was one youth group of high school and junior high combined. In splitting it into two age groups, we had a choice with Taylor. A lot of her friends and band mates were in high school – she was a junior higher. We put her in the junior high ministry. She had to make new friends and even grow in her leadership in the band. It was a growing experience for her and we see the results of that even today.
Take Good Vacations. This is Casey’s contribution. When asked recently about being raised in the church, this was his answer. When we got away from weekend responsibilities, we camped with our kids all throughout the eastern USA. We did things we liked to do as a family. In other words, there was more to life than the church. The message of Christ is the most important thing to Kristin and I. It was our responsibility to show a healthy balance of pursuing the calling God had given us and being a family.
Date your Kids. If you read anything in this blog, this is the best principle. I started when my kids were 5, 4 and 3 years old. I still do it today. I will do a blog on this in the future. Here is the bottom line. I learned what it meant to listen, learn and impart to my kids by dating them. If you do it when they are young, you will be able to listen, learn and impart when they are older. It is the best thing I did as a young dad.
Take one of these principles and implement it today. Your kids will love it!