Get To > Have To

As a mom of grown children, I get asked a lot of parenting questions by mom’s and dad’s whose children are still young.
“What do you do when they tell you they hate you?”
“How do you handle blatant disobedience?”
“When should they start dating?”

Tough questions. And some have tough answers. But the question I get more than any other is from parents who are in full-time ministry.

“How did your kids end up not resenting ministry life and having to be at church all the time?”

I’ve got to be honest – That is a fair question and something I believe many parents who work in full-time ministry wrestle with. This journey can, at times, be very demanding. It can weigh heavy on your heart as you are privy to the many burdens of others.

We protected our children from a lot of information, naturally. Any parent in any vocation would do that. But to the second part of the question, “How did your kids end up not resenting…having to be at church all the time? I have a super simple answer –

Brent and I never used the words “have to” when talking about church.

“Hurry up kids! We have to go to church.”

Nope. We “get to” go to church. It’s time to go to church. We are going to church.

Brent was a worship leader in Oregon for years. For several of those years I sang on the team. That meant we spent a lot of time at church. In and out through the week. Rehearsals. Lots of rehearsals. Saturday and Sunday services. It was busy! We didn’t have family in town then and had no other choice than to include our children in our activities.

We never made a big deal about it. We never displayed when we felt guilty for dragging them to another rehearsal; even though at times I did feel bad. Let me say here…we were smart about not expecting too much from them. They did just fine. We had activities of their own to keep them entertained. We included them in the ministry by giving them opportunities to serve; untangling cables, adjusting music stands, sorting out the music sheets.

We were very intentional about making it normal. Because it was. It was our normal. Yes, at times they gave us fits. They gave us fits waking up to go to school, running errands, and going to the doctors, too. That’s life. And church was also a part of life. We praised them for good school attendance, being brave at the doctors, and being great helpers at church. All a part of the life we get to live.