Someone else can take our place in the ministry. No one else can fulfill our responsibilities as a husband, wife or parent.
Scriptures like 1 Timothy 3: 4-5 and Titus 1: 6 show the seriousness God places upon a leader's conduct and effectiveness in family life. (cf. 1 Samuel 2:12-4:22,8:5) These issues were more fully addressed in our 1994 book Raising Awesome Kids in Troubled Times, pages 200-206. What are the pressures upon the leader's family?
1. HURRIED AND HARRASSED (Mark 6: 30-34)
* Our home must be a sanctuary, not a pit stop.
* Hospitality is good, but no privacy is bad.
* We must build a family fabric.
* We must have a rhythm and consistency to our schedules: bedtime -- especially with younger children; mealtime (entire family at dinner, this is not phone time, TV time, or homework time. Nor is it a time to schedule other meetings.) As children grow older and have more activities of their own, this will become more difficult, yet we must try.
* Family vacations
* Days away
2. CONSTANT CONCERN (2 Corinthians 11:28-29)
No matter how much we do in the ministry, there is always more to do.
* Our work is similar to that of the physician: Can we ever point to a time where we can say our work is done?
* We must learn to cast our cares on the Lord and leave them there (1 Pet. 5: 7) or our spouse and children will feel that the ministry and the church have pulled us away from them. They could come to resent us, our work, or the church.
3. FIRST TO SEE THE WORST (Ex. 16: 1-3; 17:1-4, Num. 12:1, 2)
These are but a few of the scriptures showing the conflicts and criticism that a leader might encounter.
* If our family hears us complain about the church it will hurt them.
* If we are careless in discussing church problems in front of our family it will hurt them.
* When we incur criticism from the church or from the world we must handle it with graciousness and restraint. If we give in to anger or bitterness our families will suffer. We must teach our families to have the meekness of Christ and the gracious spirit of Paul (Philippians 1: 12-18).
* This is an opportunity to teach about forgiveness, and being centered in Christ and not in how others treat us.
4. FRUIT BEFORE ROOT (John 15: 1-4)
We must place the interior before the exterior, the vertical before the horizontal. In Matthew 5:21ff, 5:27ff; 6:1, 5, 16, Jesus teaches the importance of the inner person above the outer appearance. So easy for a leader's family to focus on how they appear to others.
* Being precedes doing.
* God must be real to our children.
* It is a relationship of love and faith, not simply duty to a set of rules.
* Our children must not be "disciples of discipleship," but disciples of Jesus himself.
* Our children must not be "committed to commitment," but committed to Jesus himself.
* Our children must be converted to Christ and not to the teen ministry or to the church.
It will take having many talks and explanations to get them to this point (Deut. 6: 1-8). These talks are talks with our children and not at our children.
5. ACHIEVE OR GRIEVE (Matt. 25: 15, 1 Sam. 16: 7, Matt. 16: 24)
(Reread the aforementioned section in Awesome Kids for a full discussion.) Our children's confidence and sense of worth must come from their relationship with God and not from:
* Looks and appearance
Grades: A matter of doing their best, discipline and learning to work hard. Not a matter of comparison with others. They must do the best they can, and be applauded for that. Do not do their homework for them. Teach them personal responsibility rather than doing homework with them. Help them to learn how to manage their time.
Sports: A place to meet people, have fun, to learn teamwork, skills and how to win and lose with graciousness. Not a place to build their life. Do not pressure them to be winners, but to do their best. We recommend involvement in only one sport at a time for the sake of schedule.
Looks: Teach them to respect their bodies and to realize that God made them the way they are. They do not have to be handsome or beautiful to be pleasing to God. Focus on the heart and being loving more than working on appearance.
Leadership: God may intend our children to be leaders, or he may intend them to work behind the scenes. We cannot force them into a mold. The key is that they are unselfish and do their best to serve. Our children should not be given a leadership role simply because they are our children. They must earn it by their own abilities and service.
6. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1 Samuel 2:12-17)
We should learn something from the arrogance of Eli's sons. Our children must not think they are better than others because of our position as leaders:
* They can feel entitled to special treatment.
* They can be snobbish.
* They can become cocky and arrogant.
* They can look down on other kids or others who try to lead them.
* Mothers must nurture, fathers must lead.
* Our marriages must be close and loving.
* We must raise our children ourselves: we are the primary influence, though others have a role as well.
* Enjoy them while you have them, they will soon be gone!