Romans 12:11 “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
Having been raised an Mk has given me a unique window into family ministry. I have seen all kinds of “ministry families”. It is difficult to find a balance in how much we encourage/expect our children to participate in our ministries.
Some missionaries actually apologize to their children for “dragging them” to the mission field, thus creating a victim mentality in their children and causing them to think living on the mission field is a hardship they must endure. Obviously these children seldom serve in any kind of ministry themselves and miss out on the joy of investing their lives into others.
Other missionaries keep their kids “front and center”, expecting them to sing, talk, etc. in front of large congregations – whether the kids want to or not. Some kids love this kind of attention and are naturally gifted at being in front of people. But others are more reserved and find it painful to be in such a position. They often become resentful and choose not to serve in any kind of ministry later in life when given the choice.
So as a parent, how do I encourage my children to be involved in our ministry as a family, while not forcing them into a position they will resent? That is where the elusive balance once again comes into play. I believe each of us, as believers should be using our spiritual gifts for the good of the body of Christ. That includes our children! So I want my children to feel part of our ministry, to know that God called our family to the mission field, not just their parents. That God has gifted them in a special way and desires that they use those gifts to glorify Him. But I don’t believe that necessarily means my children have to be the ones on the platform or the ones leading their peers. Each child is different and is gifted in a special way. So my role as a missionary parent is the same as any other Christian parent – to help my child recognize his/her spiritual gifts and put them to use within a local body of believers.
Yes, I recognize that there will be times my children are asked to “take one for the team” and do something he/she may not be entirely comfortable with. And that’s okay! We are all called to be flexible and move outside our comfort zones. But I need to be careful that I am not pushing them into a kind of mechanical service simply because it is expected of them as missionary kids.
It is another challenging balance act where I must pray daily for God’s guidance. My prayer is that my children grow in their personal walks with Jesus and want to serve Him because they themselves seek His glory.