If you’ve hung around this accidental mama for long you’ll know occasionally I get a little edgy. I fight it because I learned as early as eight years old if you live with red hot intensity, a full throttle passion, you won’t be very popular, or comfortable. But sometimes I just can’t help it and I have to speak my mind. The pressure builds, the words tumble, and I take what comes.
Lately it’s sacrifice that’s been on my mind. Not my own sacrifice either. I’ve met that beast in the dark and surrendered, coming to terms with the reality that only death leads to rebirth. Anyone who says the gospel is anything other than a bloody cross to hang ourselves on is peddling a dead man’s religion. Jesus led the way, he showed us how to die and expects us to follow suit. Only when the desire for self elevation, self protection, self gratification dies can we be reborn into the new creation we’re meant to be. No, it’s not my own sacrifice that’s on my mind, it’s my kids.
Are you comfortable expecting sacrifices from your children? As a pastor’s wife I recognize the tightrope I ask my children to walk. Thankfully I’ve walked it as well and can identify. Perhaps you’re in the same position, a leader in the church, on a ministry team, there every time the doors open.
How much should you ask your children to put up with your ministry habit?
My kids are the quintessential pastor’s kids. We live at the church. Literally, we lived at the church for a week this summer during the process of buying a house. My kids thought it was cool and I encouraged them in that belief. Ministry life comes with all kinds of quirks and commitments. I don’t hold it back from my kids (other than people’s private stuff of course).
I want them to know the cost of following and serving.
In this world, the most important relationship I have is with Jesus’ bride. The Holy Spirit moving in a group of people, beautiful. It’s the only way I see the person of Jesus up close, in real time. My husband and kids are a part of that relationship, an intimate connection with the church. They are my personal responsibility and blessing. But, they are the church, they can’t be separated.
I don’t want my kids to think that the church comes before them, or they come before the church, because I don’t want them to think of themselves as separate from the church body.
I also want them to learn now, that as Jesus followers, there is an expectation of sacrifice. Not because they are pastor’s kids, but because they are God’s kids. To show love to Jesus’ bride means service, giving up our own time, going without, forgiving offenses, investing in others. Loving Jesus bride means sacrifice. If I don’t set the example for them now what will they think following Jesus looks like as they grow up? I want my kids to experience sacrifice for the sake of the church, and for the sake of the world.
Sacrifice is good. As mamas it’s easy to want to shield our kids from hard things, big things. But we do them a disservice if we don’t hold them to the standard of sacrificial love, self discipline, and denying themselves for the good of others. When I went to Serbia for 10 days last summer it was hard on the whole family. In-laws had to travel, daddy had to work overtime at home, my kids missed me and I missed them. But it was worth it, I hope for all of us, because as a unit we were serving the interest of others over ourselves.
Mamas, take your hands off. Don’t shield your children from the reality that serving costs. How are you doing at asking your kids to sacrifice? Do you protect them from the inconvenience of loving Jesus, loving the church, and loving the world? Are they expected to share their money and possessions with those in need, to cheerfully be a part of church body life, to forgive their peers, to help in church/community service projects, to discover and use their spiritual gifts, to share you with others?
Protection of them could stunt their growth as spiritually mature people. Even the littlest children can grow from sacrificing their comfort for the good of someone else. Of course it’s important to know what is age appropriate, to dialogue with them about the experience, and offer empathy when things get tough.
Never would I put my kids in danger or seek to embitter them, not at all. But with the right attitude, prayer, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit I hope to hear my kids say what I remember telling my parents, “Family is an acceptable sacrifice to God.”
Here’s where you get to weigh in. What are your thoughts?