Children keeping you out of the Ministry?

by Rhonda on September 22, 2011 in Inspiration in Child Rearing, Ministry

While visiting with a friend after church, we began sharing stories of our younger mothering days. You may be an older mom now or maybe a younger mother with small children. I share a little of my story here that you may relate to~when my first son was born, I was just 21.  As a new mom, I was delighted to have a little boy that together with my husband, Herb, we could raise to love the Lord.
 
We were in a large mega church with lots of ministry opportunities. We served in the choir, in small vocal teams, in a church plant, and participated in different bible study and visitation programs as well as teaching Sunday School.  Several days/nights a week were spent at church serving in these various ministries. All was going well, except for the fact our son kept getting sick due to being left in the church nursery so often and being exposed to lots of germs. So of course, I began missing visitation night or bible study night due to Daniel being sick. Right away, one of the older ladies took it upon herself to find out why I had been missing. After explaining my son had been sick several times, she then began to tell me how Satan was probably using my son’s sickness to keep me from ministry.
 
Now you may be thinking, how terrible……………..or you may be thinking, yeah–that’s the way I feel. Well, like I related,  I was a new mom looking for guidance and thinking this director of ministry must have a point, I continued bringing our son whether he was sick or not, due to the “wise” advice I was receiving. One Sunday morning while singing in the choir in front of thousands of people, my number was called out to come immediately to the nursery, which I did and found a very sick son with a nasty temp who needed to be taken home right away.
 
Thank God that soon after that episode, SANITY walked into my life in the form of a young woman a couple years older than me. She was a missionary’s daughter who had recently married and had a son about a year older than mine. She pulled me aside and let me know that I had a ministry already and that ministry was my husband and son. I truly needed a friend at that point in my life who could give me wise, biblical counsel. When I confided in her how guilty I had been feeling, she took me to the Word and showed me what God expected from me. And you know what I found? She was exactly right! And I was FREE! What a relief to realize my spirituality didn’t depend upon being at church three and four nights a week and that God didn’t view my child as a burden that was stifling my love for Him!
 
Today if you were to sit down and talk with me, you would find one of my burdens is for those women who are struggling with guilt over the fact they don’t have a programmed ministry they lead because they are just maxed out caring for their families. In their eyes, their children are keeping them from serving God. My dear ladies~this couldn’t be farther from the truth and is a lie you should turn a deaf ear to.
 
When you serve the least of these, you are serving Me~that’s what Jesus said. Your ministry is to your family first and then if there is extra time and energy, give that away to those in need around you.  If you are worn out, dragging your kids all over the place so you can feel spiritual–give yourself the freedom to STOP. If you desire to know what ministry God has called you to, begin studying I Timothy and Titus and you’ll see you are FREE to serve Him by serving your families. Truly, do you believe that what you are doing at home is MINISTRY? Because in God’s eyes, IT IS.
 
So young moms, lay aside the guilt for not living up to man made expectations and begin to look at life through the lens of scripture. Are you living with guilt over something God doesn’t expect from you in the first place? Get into the Word and embrace what God says about your life.  Your children are your heritage from the Lord~embrace them and raise them to the glory of God!

Rhonda blogs over at Walking with Sarah
 

Rhonda

Rhonda and Herb have been married for 28 years and together they have four children, aged 27-13. Herb is a certified nouthetic counselor through NANC, which provides many opportunities to see marriages and families strengthened for the glory of God. Their family is currently involved in planting a family integrated church in Northwest Indiana. Rhonda seeks to encourage women in their roles as wives and mothers through mentoring and writing. She blogs at WalkingwithSarah.com.

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{ 20 comments }

Christa September 23, 2011

As a pastor’s wife, I can tell you that you’re right where so many women live!

A good friend of mine gave me similar advice when he found out I would be marrying a pastor. So from the start of our ministry, I made it clear that I’m not the assistant pastor. I step in where needed (playing piano and teaching Sunday school), but my main ministry is to my family. *I* minister to the pastor and his kids so *he* can minister to the rest of the congregation. 🙂

I think our whole church world is in desperate need of a revival of biblical family values.

Thanks for an excellent article!

Rhonda September 24, 2011

Love that, Christa–reminds me of a story my step dad shared with me when he married my widowed mother after his first wife died. When Robert Doolittle brought my mother with him to the mission board after they were married for an interview( before they went back to the field), she was asked what ministry she would be running on the field–to which he replied–she will minister to me so I can effectively minister to the people.

Pam September 23, 2011

Ladies,
This is a great topic. You can find a couple of good articles on this same subject written by a pastor’s wife, Audrey Broggi. One is entitled, This Women in Ministry Thing, and you can find it by Googling it. The second article has the same title but with “Part 2” added. They are worthwhile reading and pondering upon.
Pam

Shannon September 23, 2011

This was awesome! I wanted to add that as a mom of 8 with ages from 6-21, I found that when the children get older, it is almost MORE imperative that Moms and Dads are available. I have young adult children now who are involved in their own ministries and I need to be there for them…supporting them, debriefing with them, counseling them, loving them. They are beginning to think about long term relationships and career choices. This takes a lot of time to disciple them through. Our children have seen us serve in many capacities in the church and within the community, but when it gets out of balance, I always pull back and refocus at home. I had a lot of misconceptions about needing to be there for little ones, but as soon as they are old enough to go do their own thing I will be more free to do my own thing – God has had to graciously correct me over the years. I am encouraging my young adult children and teens to have fun with church ministry and mission trips now….it’s a great season for it! And I also want to encourage them that when they begin their families, ministry won’t end, just the faces will change and they won’t have to travel so far 🙂

Judith Anne September 23, 2011

This is as pertinent as it was 25 years ago when we started homeschooling. Would it be possible for me to post this on my blog?? This could not have been expressed better!! Thank you!!

~Judith~

Rhonda September 23, 2011

Judith,
You may go to my blog, walkingwithsarah.com and find this post there–you can link back to my site if you want to share it that way as a guest post.

Natasha September 23, 2011

Lisa- thank you. I’ve read about the age integrated churches, sounds awesome!

This is why I love my Catholic Church. No one is annoyed with my children, I am going through the adult catechism class and we had to bring our girls with us, they just sat on the floor with some toys, and later sat on my lap. Everyone was so pleased to see them, and no one minded or asked if we needed a babysitter. Children are a joy in our church, not something that needs to be shoved in another room so adults can “serve”

Sara- I think from reading the comments here you would understand why mothers are upset. Mothers are bringing SICK babies into ministry. Remember the next time you are sick trying to push through the day and think about being little and being dragged all over the place with a fever so mommy can serve everyone else except her sick child. It’s getting out of hand when a church is so busy it asks its mothers to bring sick children in while they serve. If ministry leaders are doing all the work, then maybe those ministry leaders need to evaluate what’s important and how can they involve the whole family to serve together to meet the needs of others.

There’s way too many programs out there in churches. It’s unnecessary. We serve breakfast 5 days a week in our soup kitchen, pass out food everyday for the food pantry and give away clothes. We also have after school tutoring. It’s amazing, with all that going on, I never see a mother having to bring in her tired or sick babies. I think that’s bc we focus on the important stuff, we don’t have to worry about manning a 12 man crew for the sound/video technicians on a Sunday etc.
Nurseries are unnecessary. Parents drop their kids off, and then don’t volunteer! They say, Oh that’s not my ministry, they actually think tons of people have a burning desire to be in a room with a bunch of babies who are fussy and crying bc they are too young to be away from their mothers in the first place. My four yo and 5yo sit with us through the whole service, without being entertained with books and snacks. We had to practice doing it at home, but they manage just fine now. They pray when we pray, sing when we sing, and I tenderly whisper in their ears what’s going on during mass, and how much God loves them, that God hears their voices singing to him and it puts a smile on His face. You can’t tell me they get more from a nursery worker popping in a veggie tales video after doing a bible craft. Older mothers and older teenagers can sit with a young mother of many children and help teach those children how to sit through a church service.

LOL-However did they do it during the days of the early church?

KelliSue September 23, 2011

Natasha,
I wholeheartedly concur. We’re a Mormon family and while we’re worshiping the Savior Jesus Christ and partaking of his sacrament, we have our children with us, sitting reverently or working toward that end goal, together. The next hour we break into age appropriate groups for Sunday School classes, but we don’t have nurseries to drop children off into. Nursery is the first age of Primary lessons, after 18 months old. Families are the first place to learn about the Savior and His sacrifice. Church is to assist that, not to supplant that teaching.

Sara September 25, 2011

And, my point was NOT that young moms should be helping all the time. My point was that it is inappropriate for people to be complaining on here about their terrible church leaders. PASTORS HAVE FEELINGS TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sara September 25, 2011

I guarantee

Sara September 25, 2011

Rather, I guarantee to you that NO ONE is actually asking mothers to bring in sick babies…..

T. Cole September 23, 2011

Thank you! I really needed to hear this message this week.

Debbie September 23, 2011

I think the article is excellent. We need to pray and ask God what areas of ministry He wants us to be involved in. According to His word our husbands and families do come first. I well remember how busy (and tired) I was as a young mother (and sometimes now as a grandma :). No way could I have taken on additional ministry at that time. I understand what all the young moms are expressing here.
As a pastor’s wife however, I also understand and appreciate Sara’s heart. I don’t believe from reading her post that Sara was saying it was o.k. to drag your sick child to church at all. I think we all agree that is unkind to the child and the rest of the church body. Most churches we have been a part of do not allow sick children in the nursery.
It is also unfair to assume that when ministry leaders are doing all the work that that means they have too many programs or 12 sound techs or that the ministry leaders are focusing on unimportant things. Yes, some churches do focus on programs too much, but many, like our small church, just have Sunday services (no nursery & 1 sound tech) and weekly Bible studies which we believe is focusing on the important stuff.
In our experience also it is difficult to get others to participate with something as simple as a church cleaning day or as vital and important as a day witnessing to drivers at a local truck stop (an example from our church). If we know Jesus Christ we are part of His body and He has given us a place of ministry both in our home and in our church body. I love the following description of the early church:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. ” Acts 2:42-47

chrisd September 24, 2011

This is such a needed article. When I was mother of very young children, I just dropped out of ministries and I felt so guilty.

However, to their credit, my church NEVER made me feel guilty about not helping. I helped when I could and just dropped things.

Now that my kids are older I’m able to do things, little things like help clean up or wipe off tables, help with lunch or Bible studies. Someone told me that I didn’t always have to help with cleaning up but I love it! I *get* to do it!

Well done!

Beth September 26, 2011

I would wholeheartedly agree that a woman’s first ministry is to her husband and then to her children. It is often misaligned in churches nowadays. However, a small caviat to this article would be those women that use their children as an excuse to stay home from ministering. I have never understood families that desire to raise their children to serve the Lord, but then don’t teach them how. Children learn by doing. So when possible (i.e. when they are not sick), why not take them with you to do ministry? There is no better way for a child to learn how to love people than to see their parents doing it.

Rhonda September 26, 2011

Beth, I whole-heartedly agree with the idea of teaching your children to minister alongside you, something we believe and practice. Actually, my next post is on that very topic–stay tuned:)

SaraR September 27, 2011

Thank you for this wonderful article. A while back I did a few blog posts on this topic of mothering and serving outside of the home. It was encouraging then to hear wise words from fellow mothers of young children and it’s refreshing to hear it again. As one friend said, as mothers we are entrusted the souls of our children and that is a great responsibility.

I’m just reading the book Radical (not even half way through so my thoughts are just beginning to churn). I don’t know if you’ve read that but the basic gist seems to be that we are here to show God’s glory to the world. It seems to me that this will be different for everyone. I’m trying to think how to instill this truth in the hearts of my children by word and deed. I don’t want to neglect the home but I don’t want to use it as an excuse either to avoid ministry. Obviously (maybe) I’m not talking about full time ministry or lead ministry rolls but serving the church, God’s people and those outside of the church as well.

I thought that was going to be a question but I guess it just ended up being a little unfinished thought process.

Pamela September 27, 2011

What I love about what you shared here is that I searched this out for myself when I felt my children were “in the way.” Needless to say, I left the ministry that stressed performance and focused on what God has called me to within my personal ministry as a wife and mother. God knows our needs and I am happy that he sees that we will pile everything including the kitchen sink into our lives if we aren’t attentive to the Spirit which guides us into all truth.

Great biblical post here.

Pam September 28, 2011

I can SO relate to this! When my husband finished his seminary education/internship, one of the criticisms he received is that his family did not participate enough in the life of the church. I felt as if I had somehow been a black mark against his future pastoral career. We had a premature infant that I kept out of the nursery for weeks due to the risk of illness until his immune system had a chance to develop, and we were told that we weren’t participating in the service enough (even though we were in the cry room where we could see and hear the service). My wise mother-in-law forwarded the link to this article, and it was a great relief to read it. Thank you!

Janie Upchurch October 3, 2011

A Christian woman’s Christian ministry is her husband and children. It is so simple. I was fortunate to know that from the beginning of my mothering. I saw many young women looking for ministries besides. My prayer is that mother’s can and will be free to do the ministry that the Lord chose for them.

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