February..the love month. Hearts and chocolates, flowers and cards.
Maybe you have plans for a romantic dinner and evening with your loved one. Maybe this will be an off year, like it is for the Barefoot Hippies. Valentine’s Day is just not our thing. (Read more about that here)
Whatever it shakes down as, let me just say, that Valentine’s Day may be all about love. But love surely encompasses more than a Valentine holiday once a year.
Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
I have been pondering how I can best love my husband and children (and even extended family) as I engage in ministry.
(I will just clarify that when I say ministry, I generally am referring to ministry outside the home. My family is my primary ministry, but that is not how I usually refer to them. And I consider my home my primary sphere of ministry, but not my only sphere. It is the hub, however, from which all my other ministries flow. You can read more about my ministry philosophy here)
1. Discretion: the act of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid revealing private information. In our FB, Twitter, Instagram society, we are all about letting it all hang out. The good, the bad, and the ugly. In the name of being real and vulnerable. But, there is the counter weight of discretion that must be added when ministering.
We need to be vulnerable without hurting or embarrassing our spouses and children. Though I totally treat my blogging as a ministry and work hard at sharing my heart, I don’t share everything. I don’t share if my husband and I had a fight the night before. I don’t share what we do in the bedroom. I don’t share embarrassing things that my kids do. I don’t mean-embarrassing to myperfect parent persona. Embarrassing to them. I don’t share it. I protect their privacy and the sanctity of our relationship above all else.
I have gone through some deep things this past year. But because they greatly affect many others in my life, I have not blogged about these things. It may have been more “real” to bare all. But it also would have betrayed trusts. It is not worth it. I love my family and friends by being very discrete in what and how I share.
2. Prioritize: our culture is very children-centered. We don’t want our kids to be hurt. We want them to be our priority. And they should be-one of our greatest priorities.
My first priority is God. Always. Glorifying, loving and serving Him. Our relationship.
My second priority is my husband. Loving and submitting to him. Our relationship.
My third priority is my children. Raising them. Caring for them.
My fourth priority is ministry.
That is my filter. If I am neglecting my kids all the time in order to minister to others, I am not loving them.
3. Sacrifice: I also think there is nothing wrong with my children having to sacrifice occasionally for me to serve. Giving up an evening a week, so I can lead a Bible study. Having an afternoon quiet time so I can write. Saturday mornings in the spring so I can study for conferences and VBSs. It is a sacrifice on their part. It teaches them that it is costly to serve God. In serving Him, you often have to give up something you would rather do.
It is costly, but it is rewarding. I show my kids love by giving them opportunities to occasionally sacrifice in service to God. Because I want them to grow up and want to serve God too.
4. Co-laboring. Mr. Hippie and I are partners in ministry. We sometimes share the same roles. Sometimes our roles are different. Sometimes it is my ministry that he is supporting me in. Sometimes I am supporting him in his ministry. Mr. Hippie facilitates two retreats a year. I help him by doing registration paperwork for both, and cooking for one. We travel together and lead vacation Bible schools and kids’ conferences. We both teach at these. I show love for my husband by working with him however the situation merits.
I also co-labor with my kids. They come with me for most of my ministry. Not all, but most. I take them to Bible clubs and Sunday school. I take them to the VBSs. I take them to Mr. Hippie’s retreat that I cook for. And I let them help. My kids have jobs. They help with snacks and arranging chair and passing out papers. And I teach them that they too are serving God. By helping me, they are serving God. That is love.
5. Protection. I show love to my husband by speaking positively of him and by being his biggest cheerleader. I protect his reputation.
I defend my kids so that their ministry sacrifice is not too great. This is the idea of not provoking your children to wrath from Ephesians 6:4. I have found that people tend to treat “teacher’s kids” a bit differently, and it isn’t always a good thing. They expect a higher standard of behavior from them, and they expect them to sacrifice more. Behave the best, but never get the quiet seat prize-that kind of thing.
I love my kids by teaching them that life isn’t always fair-even in serving God. But I also make sure they don’t always get the short end of the stick in terms of prizes and such.
How do you love your husband and children while you minister to others?
You can find Bernadette’s bio here