Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Serving God with Children

I have been bumping up against a common thought recently. It is a subtle theme in some of the books I am reading and was mentioned at an Emergent Gathering I attended last weekend. It is something that I agree with, but find very difficult to practice. Stated very simply, God is more important than my children. Well, duh. Right? But how often do I use the well-being of my kids as an excuse not to serve God?

I'd like to think that I don't use my children as an excuse to avoid doing God's work, but I'm not even sure I can evaluate this area with much objectivity. For example, Josiah has asked us not to lead worship anymore. We have gently, yet firmly explained that we will continue to lead worship. As much as we love Josiah, it is more important to honor God by serving the church with the gifts God has given us than it is to make Josiah feel comfortable every Saturday evening. But we compromise, we don't lead worship all the time. Just sometimes. And our kids are at least part of the reason we limit how often we lead worship.

And that is fairly small thing. What if God asks us to move? The first questions that come to mind concern our kids well-being. What about their education? Will they be safe? What about services for kids with special needs?

At the same time, I don't want to neglect my children for the sake of ministry (note that I said "ministry" not "God"). We can't do everything and it would be unhealthy to try. So how do we decide how best to serve God? How do we balance ministering to people both inside and outside our family? How do we live the tension between verses that emphasize caring for your own family (1 Tim 5:8) and verses that emphasize the cost of following Jesus, including leaving family (Lk 9:57ff)?

I don't know. For now, I am simply noticing the issue. I'm not planning to increase how often we lead worship or make any drastic changes. But when God brings opportunities to serve to my attention, I will try not to immediately dismiss them simply because I have kids.

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