Your Kids Aren’t Impressed

By | 2018-04-20T10:37:09+00:00 April 20th, 2018|
  

Whether you are in seminary, a ministry position, or managing to do both, there is a real temptation to offer our families less of ourselves than we give to the work we are committed to.  

Many pastors and seminary students will effectively sacrifice their family on the altar of ministry, or the pursuit thereof. Almost 3 years into our church plant, I’ve been doing some reflection that has caused me to reevaluate some of my personal priorities. During this time I’ve discovered things that my kids do and don’t care about.

Your Kids Aren't Impressed

Your kids aren’t impressed with:

      • Your seminary GPA – Sure, your family will proudly cheer for you and take pictures to remember your seminary graduation – and rightfully so. You’ve worked hard and long for that recognition and piece of paper. But if you’ve sacrificed night after night with your kids to get an “A” on your most recent Theology III paper, they will not be impressed. Add all of the initials at the end of your name that you wish, but your kids will not (should not) call you “Daddy mDiv.”
      • Your ministry “success” – In the three years since our church has launched, we have seen God do some amazing things. We have seen our church grow from a core team of 6 adults to an average attendance of 70 with conversions, baptisms, and believers encouraged and built up in their faith. I’ve participated in panel discussions and wrote an article that was published by a seminary, a pastoral equipping ministry, and a church planting network. But when I come home at the end of they day… my kids don’t care if there are 10 or 100 or 1000 people in our church or how many people have read anything I’ve written. At the end of the day, regardless of what has transpired on Sunday, they still want to wrestle and cuddle on the couch.
      • Your theological prowess – My children are all named after some pastor/theologian/author who has had an impact on either myself or my wife. They don’t realize that and, honestly, they don’t care. I’ve never had one of my kids ask me to run through T.U.L.I.P. with them, debate the biblical arguments for/against paedobaptism, or explore the eschatological positions presented in a 4 Views book. I’d even wager that your children don’t care which systematic theology you prefer or how many times you’ve read Calvin’s Institutes.

The fact that your kids don’t care about these things doesn’t make them unimportant – but it does mean that we should prioritize them in relation to those whom we are first responsible for. Some have, in the pursuit of the above (and other good things) disqualified themselves from the very work they aspire to or currently hold (1 Timothy 3:4-5).

On the contrary, as I grow as a father to my 5 children and as a pastor to our young urban church plant, I’ve learned several other things.

 

Your kids are impressed with:

      • Your presence – This has been a difficult one to come to grips with. I often felt that if I was just in the room, my kids should be thrilled that I’m “spending time” with them. However, through their prodding, I learned that being on my phone, my computer, or hiding behind a book offered no real connection with my kids. They need my interaction and engagement on an individual level. Ask about their day. Find out what they’re learning and ask them to show off for you. Wrestle with them. You won’t regret it.
      • Your affection – This doesn’t come easy to many men, but its important for you to know that your children – and your wife – desire to receive affection from you. They need to be told you are proud of them, you love them, and to show that with hugs and kisses. It thrills my kids to no end when I’m able to genuinely tell them “I’m proud of you and the things are you learning.” Encourage your wife, listen to her, and show her affection. Do this all privately and publicly in front of your children. Your children need to know that you love their mother more than your work, and to see it lived out in front of them. Kiss your children and kiss your wife in front of your children. It matters.
      • Your faithfulness to teach them about Jesus – This matters to my kids more than my faithfulness in the pulpit. I could faithfully exposit the text and apply it every Sunday morning and they won’t bat an eye. But if I don’t read to them from the Bible at bed time, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. When it all comes down, if you are not faithful to teach your children the gospel, your preaching from the pulpit is effectively undercut. Your family is your first and foremost responsibility, not the church.

Regardless of where you are in your pursuit of pastoral ministry – experienced pastor or first semester student – remember that no homework assignment, no amount of notoriety (church stats, blogs, books, conferences, etc), no amount of knowledge, is worth sacrificing your family for. We think that if we focus on good things at the expense of our family, we will have more fruitful ministries. I would argue the fruit of your ministry begins with your wife and children.

Be present, be affectionate, and be faithful to point your wife and kids to Jesus. It honors God, pleases Jesus, and displays a healthy model for your church to follow for generations to come. When we are faithful in the small things, the God of all things is honored and glorified (Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:23-24).






About the Author:

Brad Walker
Brad's Blog
Brad serves as the Lead Pastor of Redeemer Church, a recent church plant in downtown Jeffersonville, Indiana. He and his wife, Starla, raise their five children on a small urban farm in the middle of the city. He has occasionally contributed to Practical Shepherding and the Send Network blog.



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