This year my husband and I have been in church work for 9 years. (Say what?) We planted Linc in our early twenties just before our first daughter was born and so I don’t know this wonderfully crazy world of church without having to navigate early adulthood, marriage, kids and personal health. But as I look back I am (somewhat) grateful it happened that way. It’s all been in one big pot from the very beginning and this has allowed us to learn (the hard way) how to build our lives in a healthy way so we can sustain this journey rather than burning out time and time again.
When we started out I had this very real and overwhelming fear that ministry would ruin my children. Seriously. I listened to story after story of people who had been hurt by growing up in a family where the parents were pastors. I heard church leaders (many) joke about the perils of “pastors kids” and how we should expect forms of rebellion and a kick back against the church. I’ve met some pastors kids who carry genuine pain around their upbringing and as a young girl looking into the future I was horribly overwhelmed. I honestly believed that church would be the cause of much pain for my kids and in that process I began to resent our decision to pursue what Dylan (and originally I), felt so passionately called to do. It almost destroyed my family and if I’m completely honest I regret what fear caused my heart to hold on to in that season.
But the story ends well. Through the help of friends and leaders. Through the encouragement of people who have lived a bigger story and seen a different way we decided to remodel and shape again the way we lived our lives. We didn’t throw out the church work or palm off the children. We didn’t pretend it was all perfect. We faced our failure and admitted we did not know how to merge church and family. And then we resolved to live life together and trust God to do with our children what we could not. I chose to trust the process and the journey and I have been surprised time and time again by the sheer beauty that this whirlwind life has brought my family.
This is not my calling or Dylan’s calling. This is not just something that their Mom and Dad do. We are called as a family (I wholeheartedly believe this) and I have watched as each one of my girls has stepped into this life. I’ve watched them embrace the good and the bad. I’ve watched them own the vision of our church. I’ve watched them model who we are as a people and I simply cannot take all the credit. My kids have access to some of the best people on the planet. People who see their potential and call it out. There development does not just rest on Dylan and I, but rather in a community of people who dream of doing something significant on this earth. On any given day my children are told that they are born for greatness. And it’s not just me speaking over their impressionable hearts. It’s friends and colleagues. They are told often that they are part of God’s great plan on the earth to redeem humanity. They have a role to play in this story and we believe they will stand on our shoulders and do even greater things. Yesterday as Mackenzie celebrated her birthday a good friend and Senior leader in our church declared over her in a moment that she would lead with kindness. That she is the head and not the tail. That her life has meaning and purpose. That we would all see a God story unfold in her life and rejoice? She was thanked for the part she plays in this story and urged on in love to pursue what God has for her personally. I wish I could have seen that moment 9 years ago. I wish someone had told me to quiet down and fear not because for every lack I foresaw, they would receive abundantly more than I could ever manufacture on my own.
My kids are part of a big family. Like a really big family. Think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. And in this family they get to share in joy and share in pain. They lack for nothing. Around every corner of the week is fun, food and a sense of adventure. They’ve learnt loyalty and kindness. They’ve learnt to love and accept people so different to them. They’ve learnt to share with people who have less and they’ve had the privilege of receiving excess from those who have more. I used to resent the shared time and the hours poured into “work’ but now as we walk this out together I now know that in every season God goes ahead and supplies what we need. He is a good Father and has more for my children than I could ever give them. When Dylan travels the girls are fathered. When we both travel the girls are protected and nurtured and reminded of the bigger picture. When Dylan prepares for hours throughout evenings and weekends we find purpose in the outcome of changing peoples eternity. Because this is not his thing, it’s our thing. I wish I knew then what I now know.
And so. If you are in church work with new babes and you ever feel overwhelmed I want you to stop and speak to the lie that Church will tarnish your children. It’s not the truth. Everything in life is what we make it out to be and if you choose this life, jump all in. Jump in with your children and go on a glorious adventure together. Stay up later together. Dream of church together. Talk of church in a positive way. Look for the good and choose to be grateful everyday. Make it fun. Give kids a reason to love church. Plan ahead and don’t forget to feed them. (Seriously!) Teach them to sleep off the fatigue. To pace themselves. Teach them to love even the mundane realities of life. To see miracles everyday. Tell them they have purpose and part to play in this story.
No work is worth losing our kids along the way. Whether you are in business, education, media, the arts, church work or politics, I would encourage you to take your kids on the journey. Show them that work is a blessing. That you believe in what you do. That it matters. That you are playing a role in building a healthy society. Show them that they matter to you. Work at work and play at home. And when you work at home tell them why. Make it simple, help them see. They’re watching and learning as we live out our lives and we have the privilege of shaping their beliefs about work, rest and family.
It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always glam. But it is so worth it. So so worth it. So come on, let’s be those people that build a platform for the next generation that is solid and firm. That launches them into a magnificent destiny. I know it’s possible. Don’t be disillusioned. Let’s dream bigger. I am wholeheartedly committed to giving this my all and I’m crazy enough to ask you to join me. I think it’s gonna be fun.