Monday, April 04, 2011

10ST - Misappropriating Your Family

10ST will be an ongoing series digging into Geoff Surratt's Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing and how those stupid things keep youth ministries from growing as well.
This summer, for the first time, my oldest daughter will be a student at a week of camp that I'm leading. She'll be hanging out with our Middle School and High School group a lot more. (I'm suddenly rethinking our "6th graders as dual citizens of children's and youth ministry" approach... maybe I can just let Joe keep them all to himself for one more year!) It seems a little strange to me that I will have a child within the primary age group that I've been working with for the last decade plus. Like a penguin that realizes that egg on my feet just hatched and now I have to teach it something... ok, it's not really like that at all, but I thought this post could use a penguin in it.

The second chapter of Geoff Surratt's 10 Stupid Things is about establishing the wrong role for the pastor's family.
He explores the various ways that ministry can tax the pastor's spouse and children - and even wreck both the pastor's family and his ministry. As I think about Emily being part of our middle school ministry group, I've been thinking a lot about the roles I've asked my family to fill as the youth minister's family.

One key to overcoming this stupid thing, according to Surratt is to not allow "my ministry" to swallow up "my family." Let your family be who they are. My wife is not my automatic super-volunteer whenever I need something done in the student ministry. She's amazing with kids who still drool and chew on furniture, so that is a primary area of service for her. We'd have huge problems if I said, "No, no, I'm the youth minister, so get out of the nursery and come hang out with the Jr. High kids for a couple hours every week. She is awesome with other young mothers and their babies, so it would be incredibly stupid of me to steer her away from that.

As strange as it seems to be at this point, I'm actually excited to have my own kids in the trenches of youth ministry with me... like take your child to work day every day! But I know I'll need to be careful about the expectations I place on them. (I'll also probably have to stop telling so many stories about them!)

The bottom line is this - your family is a gift and it is gifted. When we force those gifts to be shelved in deference to some youth ministry protocol or outside expectations - no one wins. Our families begin to resent our ministries, we become more and more torn between both, and God receives less than what He deserves.

In addition to helping our families maximize their gifts for their ministry (as opposed to forcing them to take a backseat in ours) we need to make sure our ministry doesn't take precedence over our family. I have to admit to letting my priorities skew from time to time, but my family is my first ministry. Andy Stanley explores the management of this tension between ministry and family really well in Choosing to Cheat. Another resource that LuAnn has found really helpful is Leading and Loving It from Laurie Wilhite. Laurie is the wife of Jud Wilhite, pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas and she's put together a team for "connecting, encouraging, & equipping pastor's wives and women in ministry." Really good stuff.

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