Hold Your Kids More Than Your Phone

When it comes to ministry, how can we do it all?

How do we care for our own families in the midst of caring for other families?

Focus on your own family!!!

An interesting way to launch into the things that are most critical to long-term success in ministry.

This was the focal point of Doug Field‘s conversation at the D6 Conference a few weeks ago.  Doug opened up and shared his own thoughts on ministry at the initial points of his career.  Surrounded by ministry leaders that lived on the ‘performance treadmill,’ he remembers what it was like to go home and be so tired he didn’t want to engage with those under his roof.

How do we reconcile ourselves with the fact that we say we value family, yet our example as ministry leaders does not reflect that value?  Leadership is primarily example.  We are called to live out what we preach and teach and set a pattern for others to follow.

When we return to New Testament scripture, Paul describes the nature of his leadership in ministry.  He consistently makes family analogies.

“…but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her children.”  1 Thess. 2:7

The image of a spiritual leader in the church is not the image of a CEO but the image of a good mother/father.  Someone worthy of imitation.  Yet what do you do when values collide, and you have to choose between leading your ministry and leading your family?

Doug suggests that many take the path of least resistance.  Building a ministry is easier than building a family.  In ministry, you can keep others at arms’ distance.  Affirmation is readily available.

But at home, the guards come down, and affirmation is not as prevalent.  Building your family is tougher than building a ministry…yet there are actions we can take to make sure we focus on our own family:

  1. Change the Channel – We’re stuck on one channel broadcasting the unrealistic expectations of your leadership.  How do you change the channel?
    1. Redefine spoken and unspoken expectations placed on you.
    2. Deflect the idea that “the devil doesn’t take a day off.”  The devil’s not the role model.
    3. Saying “no” is tricky in an environment that values you saying “yes” to everything and everyone.
    4. It’s easy to say “no” to the bad things, but tough to say “no” to the many good things.  Every “yes” to the church is a “no” somewhere to your family – what’s the worst thing that could happen if you say “no?”
  2. Unplug from Church
    1. There must be a time when you’re at home and totally available to your family and not to ministry.
    2. Work at making your home a safe place where you can retreat, disconnect, and be totally available to your family.
    3. The challenge isn’t to come home from church.  You can change your location but may never leave there mentally.
    4. Don’t answer the phone with your kids in the car.  Capitalize on the opportunity.
    5. Struggling with the idea of ‘building the church’ – When you leave the church, they will not remember you.
    6. There are other people that can shepherd the flock.  But no one can speak into the life of your kids or shepherd their heart better than you.
  3. Serve Ice Cream
    1. Put as much effort into making your home attractive as you do making your church attractive.  Make your home a fun place to be.
    2. What could you do to make your house fun?  When can you start?
    3. What are you doing to make it a privilege that mom or dad are in the ministry?

To accomplish these 3 things, you have to take the reins.  If you’re waiting for your church environment to change, it’s not going to happen.  An indicator of your future is looking at the performance of the past.

A great comparison…look at the life of Jesus.  He didn’t go everywhere.  He didn’t meet everyone.  He didn’t heal everyone.  He said “no” to some very good things.

Doug closed his session with 3 dreams he holds for those of us in ministry…

  1. Hold your kids more than you hold your phone.
  2. Date your spouse with more passion than you give to build your ministry.
  3. Work more to build energy and fun into your family than you do your ministry.

This is the second time in 2010 I’ve had the privilege of hearing from Doug Fields.  The first time was at the Orange Conference sitting with my team.  I got a few elbows in the midst of his talk.  Sitting by myself six months later at D6…I was elbowing myself.  These are notes to return to on a regular basis.

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A self-described Christ-follower, wife, mom, writer, speaker, kids' pastor and coffee snob, Gina McClain cannot organize a closet to save her life, but can paint a vision for why the closet should be organized and recruit the talent to make it happen. She formerly served as a LifeKIDS Pastor at the OKC Campus of LifeChurch.tv.