Raising our children in ministry was a true joy for Jeana and me. We knew God had called us; we never even implied there was another option. Therefore, our children knew it as a joyful lifestyle.
Yet, I am more than aware that ministers sometimes struggle with raising their children in ministry.
I want to share six tips I believe will be helpful while raising children in the ministry:
1. Be content where you are
If you are not content in ministry or content where you are living, sooner or later your children will catch that same spirit. The spirit of perpetual discontentedness is reality not only for ministers and wives, but their children. This can lead to all kinds of conflict in the home.
If you know God has called you, then in reality, you have no choice but to follow Him. If you know God called you to serve where you are, give it your best and leave your future in the hands of God.
2. Leave conflict at the church
Refuse to be negative about the church in front of your children. If something has happened and you must talk with your spouse about it, wait until the children are out of the room. Leave conflict at the church.
By the way, your spouse does not need to know every negative thing you face in your ministry. You are called to pastor the church, not her. God will give you the grace to carry the conflict and the discernment on what to say to your spouse and what not to say.
3. Be involved in the church
Raise your children in the church and ensure they are involved in ministry at their level. If camp is happening, your children need to be at camp.
When we raised our boys, church was still highly engaged on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, as well as several outreach nights. We built a culture: This is what we do! It was never optional.
The best thing for your child is to have spiritual influence from the church throughout their life. Your children need to be involved in the church.
4. Talk about the benefits of ministry
Many in ministry want to spend volumes of time talking about the challenges and problems in ministry. That is never productive.
When you have children at home, your children are afforded many great opportunities when they are raised in the home of a minister. They will have access to meeting many wonderful people in your church and others who visit to assist you in ministry. They get to go places where other children may not have access. As a minister, you have the privilege of going to unique places. When possible, take your children with you and on the way, talk about the benefits of being raised in the home of minister.
5. Take an annual vacation
Take an annual vacation with your entire family. This is non-negotiable. Do not let limited finances choke this opportunity with your children. You have only one shot with your kids. Invest time in them. Whatever the financial resources or lack of them, you can find something you can do.
There are other times you can get away, like Christmas or other holidays. Take advantage of this time. Leave town and go. It is impossible for ministers to really relax and spend time with family without being out of town.
6. Pray with your children daily
Every morning before our boys left for school, we prayed with them. Many ministers pray with everyone else, but they do not pray with their family. This is not healthy at all.
In your own devotional life, pray for your children to love Jesus and love His church. When people used to ask us, “How can we pray for your children?”, this is what I always told them. I wanted our children to leave my home and one day raise their children to love Jesus and love His church.
God answered our prayer. He will answer yours.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Senior Pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas for 38 years. He is the author of multiple books, including Forward: 7 Distinguishing Marks for Future Leaders.