A few months ago, I spoke at the Fuel Conference (a gathering of Wesleyan Church youth workers, clergy, and volunteers). The theme of the conference was “how to care for your family while having a successful ministry.” The topic was close to my heart, as I have seen the devastating effects of its neglect.
In my 8 min Ted Talk-style message, I shared about how to create a culture where your children are not in competition with your ministry. Basically, moving children from being painfully present to purposeful participation. Specifically, I shared about this in regard to raising young children while doing ministry.
For those of you who do not have children…think of a volunteer in your ministry who does. What can you do affirm that having young children and serving in your ministry are not incompatible?
God placed immense value on children/youth in his Kingdom. Psalm 8:2 (NIV) - “Through the praise of infants and children you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”
Or check out The Message version - "Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs that drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble."
How we started including our kids...
I have to say that I have been guilty, very guilty, of viewing my own children as distractions. The picture below is our oldest daughter praying over a student during a youth camp. She was 2 years old. This picture is etched in my memory as a constant reminder of the power of her presence in these settings. As someone who appreciates and values order (a little too much sometimes), I've had to superimpose this Biblical truth over my own preferences. As my husband and I have given her the freedom over the years to worship freely, pray for others as the Holy Spirit prompts, and share what the Lord shows her (this girl has some seriously cool dreams/visions), we have seen the fruit that has come from her presence in these settings.
So, if strongholds are broken through her praise and praise of all children, how can this impact your ministry setting? How can their presence model a healthy family system? Their uninhibited worship inspire the hesitant? Their innocence serves as a reminder of the Father's heart? Not just tolerated, occupied, cared for (though sometimes necessary). How can they participate?