Several times over the last seven months I’ve made either Twitter, Facebook or Blog comments about my 19 year old son’s step-away-from-football-and-college to serve orphans and street children in Kitale, Kenya (post one & two).

He came home yesterday! Praise Jesus.

The photo (below) is from our first of many meals where we’re downloading his experience.

My oldest daughter returns home Monday night after being in Africa for 3 months (post college graduation). With two of my three kids gone this summer (and my youngest wishing she was in Africa) I’ve taken some time to do some reflecting on our parenting style as well as raising our kids in a ministry environment.

I’m working on a list of some of the steps that I’m glad Cathy and I made while our kids were growing up in ministry. One of these days I’ll share the list, but here’s what I was thinking about while I was waiting at the airport for Cody to arrive.

1. TIME goes by very fast
When our kids were little, this didn’t seem like a true statement. We were always tired, got little sleep, and felt like we were a high maintenance family. But, now of the verge of being an empty-nester (our youngest is a junior), I’m stunned at how fast time appears to go.

2. Ministry always requires more TIME
When you think about how quickly time goes, this 2nd statement can definitely trigger some family-tension. Since ministry never stops (because people always have needs) we’re constantly making decisions about who is going to win the time battle… the ministry or our family. With Cathy’s tenderness and help, we always tried to make sure that our family won. I realize this can be difficult if “healthy family” is not a high priority within your church setting.

3. Make sure your kids know they don’t have to work for your TIME
When my children were younger, I was haunted by something a youth pastor’s child said, “I’m excited to be in youth ministry because I’ll get to see my dad more.” When I heard that, it broke my heart and I made a commitment that my kids would never say that. At church, I made it very clear that my kids had total access to their dad. They knew that if others were waiting to talk to dad…they didn’t have to wait. Not everyone agrees with our approach, but that’s what we taught our kids.

If you’re a parent, who is serving in ministry, there is great hope for your kids! Cathy and I are convinced that growing up around incredible, fun and godly adults was an incredible blessing for our kids. I realize you’re always being forced to make ministry and time-related decisions, and my prayer is that you’ll make more right decisions than wrong decisions (you’ll make some of those too)… actually, I pray you’ll make a lot more right decisions.

The issue of TIME is definitely a battle, but it’s one worth fighting.

Here’s another post I wrote about family & ministry.

Also, at this year’s National Youth Ministry Convention (Youth Specialities), Cathy and I will be teaching an extended seminar on Ministry & Marriage and my daughter and I will be teaching one about Raising Kids in Ministry. I hope you’ll join us!

Question: What are the concerns you have about raising kids in ministry? Share them HERE.