Friday, April 27, 2012

Major Change in Family vs. Serving in Church Balance

Adventures as husband, dad, and cat support staff.

My re-prioritized youth group.
This past week I gave notice that I would not be returning as high school youth leader at my local church.  Instead, I will lead our family as we commit the time and energy to intentional family building activities and disciplines.  Specifically, my 10 year old son and I will devote the newly set aside time (6pm to 8:30pm Wednesday nights late August through early May) as special father and son time.  Our family's expectation is that simplifying away this major commitment (including not only Wednesday nights, but also monthly director meetings, advance preparation time, and energy spent worrying about all the above) will empower me to have more one on one time with my 14 year old son, 12 year old daughter, and Darling Bride.  We, as a family, are also committing to leading our Small Group well.  Whether or not the cat is sufficiently attended to is under review - she's been with us only two weeks.

This decision was not made easily.  Serving in the local church is unlike any other volunteer work, it is service to God.  In the role I'm giving up, church leaders, parents, and the kids seem to think I do a good job, and I enjoy the challenge of being a teacher and leader and the satisfaction when a Wednesday evening finishes well.  On the other hand, it has become apparent that my efforts as an AWANA leader (the specific program in which I serve) requires so much of me that I have been unable to lead my family as effectively as I like.

There was an excellent weekly e-mail sent by Todd Wilson (Family Man  Ministries - this past week that expresses some of my feelings.  He says, "Do you give the folks at the office, work, or ministry your right-off-the-grill best, leaving only the leftovers for your family?  Maybe it's time that you and I both begin to serve our families some heaping helpings of Dad-first..."  As if he were reading my mind!  Therefore, I am saying "no" to a good thing, youth ministry, in order to say "yes" to a better thing, family commitment.

I'll drink to that!
I've wanted to do this for several years, but have been afraid that we would spend the extra time without direction and in front of the TV.  So, to make this work, Darling Bride, 10 year old son, and I have started a bullet point list of things we are going to do:
  • Sports - football, frisbee, bicycling, baseball, maybe even golf
  • Martial arts - training for rank advancement and earning a Junior Leader role
  • Books - reading together some must-read books for boys
  • Handyman - some home improvement projects to teach future man skills.  Changing the oil and spark plug on a riding lawn mower, for example.
  • Bible - scripture memorization for Sunday School and martial arts (part of rank and Junior Leader work)
  • Odds and ends - plenty of ideas can be found in The Dangerous Book for Boys
  • Board games, chess, Risk, Stratego, Yahtzee
  • More ideas as we think of them
This book may be too advanced for me.
Our family has already benefited simply by talking and deciding on this change.  Son got out his Dangerous Book for Boys and we've already looked at it together and made plans.  My stress level has decreased.

While I am being intentional in setting aside Wednesday nights for him, everybody else will benefit.  I expect to bicycle with my daughter, launch a high school homeschooling blog with my high school son, and have conversations with Darling Bride about topics other than how tired and stressed out we are.  She is also taking an indefinite AWANA sabbatical.

Daughter is already lobbying for her dates with daddy.  I'll gladly do that over lesson prep.

Truly one could say that I'm still in ministry, this time ministering more fully to my own family.  Are you ministering to your family?  I'm sure you are.  Are you ministering well?

Don't listen to him - I am not high maintenance!


  1. Those kind of decisions are always the hardest yet best to make. My husband has made that commitment years ago, and you have no idea what it does to a wife and family. We feel so loved, wanted and taken care of. We feel like we are first (after God), which is how it is suppose to be. We all have different seasons in our lives, and my husband and I know that this season is for our kids and our family. We'll be able to serve other ways when this season is over. I applaud you in the step you are taking. :)

  2. Amen to all that JoAnn said, and don't forget you are also a small group leader, ministering to other families in so many ways. Don't minimize that. Love you!