How to be a children’s minister whose own children love your ministry as much as you do
It’s a few minutes before 2 in the afternoon, and I’m scrambling to get everything together for the volunteer meeting I have later tonight. The sound of my pager interrupts my train of thought, and I find a phone to dial the number that has so rudely disrupted my working streak.
The words uttered by the voice on the other end send a shiver of guilt right into the pit of my stomach: “Mrs. Kamrath, this is Apache School. We have your son, Josh, in the office. Did you forget that today was early release?”
It was written in my day planner and on the kitchen calendar. We had a reminder note sent home the day before, and still I was so involved in what I was doing at church that I had forgotten my own child.
As children’s ministry staff, it’s our mission to reach children for Christ and cultivate their faith. We spend many hours, days, and sleepless nights wondering how we can be more effective in ministering to children and families. Experiencing the adrenaline rush of a great VBS program, the joy of praying with a child who for the first time has believed in Christ, or the pat on the back from a new family who wants to say “thanks” for making them feel welcome are all affirmations of ministry success. But does success at church come at the expense of ministering to our own children?
Any working parent understands the difficulties of balancing home, family, and career. While all working parents face similar challenges in this area, the church worker has the unique challenge of setting limits to home, family, career, and church. Church is the place where mom or dad go every day, but it’s also the place where your family worships and is nurtured.
Although church work is a calling and a ministry, it has worldly imperfections that create frustration and stress in the lives of those who deal with it day in and day out. And like other working parents, you need to be careful about what you bring home from the office.
In The Family-Friendly Church, Ben Freudenburg asks church workers to look at who is controlling your (more than likely) crazy schedule: you or the church? We’re all very good about preaching to the masses the importance of family time, but do we live it out in our daily lives? Does the schedule we keep and the attitude we have toward ministry breed anger and resentment toward the church in our children’s lives? If we’re doing our job, and doing it well, then our first priority will be to our own children, because ministry to them is not a position; it’s our lifetime commitment. How then can you help your own children benefit from your ministry to all children?
Build Relationships With Your Kids
One of the unique benefits of working at church is that, in most cases, your schedule can be flexible. Take advantage of it! Check your kids out of school over the lunch hour and take them on a picnic or to their favorite restaurant. Help in the classroom when a note comes home requesting volunteers (and we all know how much we value volunteers!). You will brighten a teacher’s day, too! When your kids have a day off from school, take a day off yourself and go to the zoo or on a hike to explore God’s creation. Many churches will let you bring your children to work with you if they have a day off. What a great way for them to experience what you do every day.
There are lots of ways to have fun just being with your kids and reminding them of how much you love them. It can be difficult for children when they observe you showering other kids with love and attention if they don’t experience the same from you at home. Give them regular reminders of how special they are: Leave notes in lunch boxes, bring balloon bouquets to school on their birthdays, or let them help you plan a special event at church. Letting them have input in what you’re doing in ministry not only helps them feel special and part of your ministry, it also gives a child’s perspective on something that’s typically planned by adults.