Without fail, almost every pastor we’ve sought “wise counsel” from during difficult times responds with this:
Well, first, imagine him sitting back in his chair, leaning into his thoughts with his head slightly cocked and his eyes of wisdom squinting as if he is squeezing spirituality out of his brain. Ok, the response is something like this:
Long pause. Slight shaking of the head up and down in agreement with our lamenting. “Just think of Paul who endured difficulties and rejoiced in all of his tribulations. He willingly sought after God and did his will no matter how this world made him suffer.”
To which my husband always responds, “But Paul didn’t have kids.”
You see, Paul was chained and beaten and persecuted, but would he have done the same if his 12 year old son was being whipped next to him? Would he have allowed his daughter to be publicly beaten and mocked and humiliated? And not for what they have done, but for what their father did? Would Paul have been able to continue in his ministry if his innocent children endured the consequences for his choices?
Michael and I know our “tribulations” are nothing, no-thing, compared to what Martyrs of the faith endure. But they are our sufferings, nonetheless. We stand in unity that the things we go through would be nothing if our kids didn’t have to suffer along with us.
It’s like those commercials, “A baby changes everything.” It’s true. Kids change our perspective and our choices. They also transform our faith, in some ways for good but in lots of ways for bad. Unfortunately, our choice in ministry means our families choice in ministry. It’s not something “they” signed up for, it’s a calling, really, on my life. But yet, they suffer. Jesus has asked me to dedicate my life, my time, my resources, my home, my talents and gifts to serving Him full time. This means my husband suffers through working at a job where he is vastly under-used, for hours that no single person should have to work, while in pain, with lack of sleep, without gratification or accolade.
Ultimately it’s our choice, and I am blessed to have a husband who believes in my calliing, sometimes more than I do. I am also blessed that my kids are willing to go alone for the ride, but I wonder if they will become typical “pastors kids” struggling with their faith and love of the church in the future.
Paul didn’t have kids, but I do. And it’s sometimes difficult to endure the calling of ministry. Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel, saying, “Whatever, I don’t care!” But I do, and it’s a daily struggle between the love of my Jesus and the love of my children.