Leadership Journal is widely read tool for pastors and other church leaders and was published by Christianity Today. Here are excerpts of their articles on PKs and links to the complete articles. Thank-you to Former Editor Marshall Shelley for his help.
WHEN THE MINISTERIAL FAMILY CAVES IN
Tension in the ministerial family is as old as Moses and Zipporah on the way to Egypt. Those who speak for God have never been immune to the stresses that plague husbands and wives, parents and children. In fact, their work makes their home life more vulnerable than most, while the stakes run higher. The nightmare of every church leader is that his high calling may be discredited by family meltdown.
In the following forum, three pastors and a pastor's wife consider the hazards. Their discussion centers around a troubling but insightful book, Man of Vision, Woman of Prayer (Nelson, 1980) by Marilee Pierce Dunker, daughter of the famous Bob Pierce, who founded World Vision, one of the largest Christian relief and development agencies. "We are used to frank biographies, especially of film stars and entertainers," wrote Eternity magazine's reviewer, "but this book sets a new record for the evangelical world. It is amazing that the daughter who chronicles this heartbreaking story clearly loves-yes adores-her father."
Bob Pierce's ministry began in southern California in the late 1930s, and by the end of World War II, he was a fast-rising comet in the Youth for Christ movement. His wife, Lorraine, held faithfully to her husband through times of both exhilaration and disappointment; life with Bob was a breathtaking crusade to reach the most for Christ in the least amount of time. His vision took him to China twice before the Bamboo Curtain dropped; two 1950 trips to Korea broke his heart. He founded World Vision that year to try to help the thousands of war orphans and others who were literally freezing and starving to death.
The emergencies of a desperate world never let up after that, and neither did Bob Pierce. His accomplishments were prodigious; the number of children receiving care went from 2,200 in 1954 to 20,000 ten years later. Meanwhile, the needs of a wife and three daughters back home paled by comparison with the agonies overseas. The book chronicles the gradual breakup of a gifted, driven man. His emotional circuitry begins to malfunction around 1963, his temper becomes harder to control, and leaves of absence do not suffice. A 1967 face-off with the World Vision board results in his leaving the organization he founded; the next year his eldest daughter, then twenty-seven, commits suicide; and in 1970, Pierce is legally separated from his wife.
The final eight years, until his death of leukemia in 1978, are a gauntlet of alienation, harsh words, and suffering for everyone. Only in the last week of his life comes one shining evening of reconciliation.
The Pierce tragedy, though lived at the pinnacle of a worldwide organization, harbors many of the same forces that pressure local church leaders. In that, it is a warning to everyone involved in ministry. The four participants who delineate that warning are: Gordon MacDonald, pastor of Grace Chapel, Lexington, Massachusetts, and a current board member of World Vision; C. B. Hogue, now pastor of Eastwood Baptist Church in Tulsa after a long pastoral career and ten years of denominational work that required much traveling; Mary LaGrand Bouma, wife of the pastor of the Christian Reformed Church, Hammond, Indiana, and author of two books, including Divorce in the Parsonage; Kent Hughes, pastor of College Church, Wheaton, Illinois. Among the four, they are the parents of sixteen children altogether.
Leadership: Each of you has now read the story of a Christian leader who was publicly revered but personally chaotic. What feelings did this book arouse?
Kent Hughes: I felt that here was a man who did not try very hard at home. He fell into some easy rationalizations, the most flagrant being that if he took care of others, God would somehow take care of the Pierce family.
Mary Bouma: My feelings of anger seemed to build the longer I read, even though the daughter has given us a loving portrait. I was struck by the fact that spiritual gifts in a person's life do not necessarily mean spiritual maturity. Bob Pierce was obviously very gifted, but also very self-centered. Where were the counselors who should have stood up to him and exhorted him?
Gordon MacDonald: My feeling for him is deep pity. I don't mean to excuse him, but he was a product of his age. The late 1940s and early 1950s were made for high-octane people like him. He came along from childhood with great insecurities-and started a movement. He assumed the Lord would somehow take care of his family; a whole generation was brought up to believe that. Thousands of post-World War II missionaries did the same thing.
Down through the centuries of the church, it has often been the unbalanced, highly emotional person who has awakened the masses to a new reality. The Pierce model can be seen time and again.
Bill Hogue: He carried a tremendous need for fulfillment, an insatiable drive to accomplish, that never seemed to be met. There was also a lack of stability; they never really managed to put their roots down and establish a true mooring to come home to.
But we must not forget the fact that in addition to psychological explanations, there is another force in the world who delights in capturing spiritual leaders. In this case, the Evil One succeeded.
Leadership: Juan Peron, the Argentine dictator, once said, "Only the fanatics accomplish." Do you agree?
Kent: I don't like to concede that, even though I admit Gordon's point about many great founders being imbalanced. I remember hearing Bob Pierce preach, and it was always a string of emotional stories, mingled with tears . . . then the handkerchief would come out . . . it was the outpouring of a deeply agitated soul.
Gordon: I don't care for the word fanatic, but I know what you mean. Leaders like this are never listeners. They speak; you give ear. You don't advise them, and you certainly don't disagree with them. If you do, they simply go on to the next person. That's almost an inevitable mark of strong founders of organizations.
Kent: Does it have to be that way?
Gordon: The ideal scenario would be that all of us, in our compassion and sensitivity, would see the needs of the world as Bob Pierce did, propose action, and others would witness to the validity of our vision-but that's not the way we are. We live in a fallen world. So every once in a while, a driven personality comes along to shake us and get us going. God seems to use the somewhat dark dimensions of humanity to launch beautiful things.
But for every Bob Pierce who succeeds, of course, ninety-nine others fail. Their weakness catches up with them.
Bill: Leaders like this, at some point along the way, make a commitment to a cause, and after that they are unstoppable. Frequently that commitment arises from a catalytic experience-in Pierce's case, the 1947-48 trips to China. Something snaps in their minds, and they say, "This is what I can do, and I'm going to do it no matter what." Their commitment is settled; from that point on, don't confuse them with the facts.
Gordon: Bob Pierce came from a childhood of poverty, and when he saw the poverty in Korea, he instantly identified with it. Here were needy children like he used to be.
Mary: There's the point where Bob Pierce was away from the church and, apparently, the Lord for more than a year. He comes back, falls at the altar, rededicates his life to God-and the next Sunday his father-in-law reinstates him as the youth pastor of the church. This only encouraged his pattern of instability.
Bill: When a young man or woman made a commitment to Christian service in those days, everybody got excited. The person showed a little bit of gift-and people exaggerated it, poured coal to the fire, pushed the person toward prominence as quickly as possible.
Gordon: Do you remember that key moment in 1947 when Lorraine was just emerging from an emotional collapse, and Torrey Johnson, the president of YFC, came to her bedside to plead that Bob be released to go to China for youth campaigns? What could she do? She desperately needed him . . . but those were the days of war heroes, and the man who would give up family and go to dangerous places was highly revered. Two weeks later, Bob Pierce got on an airplane and was gone for the next four months.
Bill: I'm old enough to remember those years. The GIs had given themselves in total, unselfish service . . . we were soldiers of the Cross. We would do the same.
Leadership: Why was Bob Pierce's public ministry so compelling?
Gordon: He had a charisma like no one you've ever heard. Someone told me, "When you went to hear Bob Pierce, you made sure you had nothing in your pocket but a bus token to get home," because he had a way of almost literally putting a vacuum cleaner over the audience and extracting every dime.
Leadership: Don't words lose their meaning when you use them so often? Do ministers turn into professional wordmongers, putting holy phrases into microphones so much that verbal Christianity gets divorced from flesh Christianity?
Gordon: Yes, that's a problem. The flesh part of living is denied, and the energy is put into romantic statements instead. C. T. Studd wrote the same kind of letters from Africa and didn't see his wife from 1916 to 1929, when she died in Spain.
Leadership: What makes for meaningful communication in a ministry marriage?
Mary: If I had to pick one thing, it would be commensurate education. That may surprise you-I know it certainly did me at the end of my research for my book. I had interviewed two hundred ministry wives, and when I went back and read through all my notes again, I said, "I can't believe this." Healthy, communicative marriages in the ministry were those in which the wife's education had not been cut short.
Many wives, of course, work hard and long to put their husbands through seminary, and what do they get? A silent husband who assumes she cannot function on the intellectual level at which he has now arrived.
The marriages in trouble were the marriages with big educational gaps.
Leadership: Why is that?
Mary: You think differently once you're college-trained. A liberal-arts education prepares you to discuss things conceptually.
Gordon: This problem is compounded if a wife becomes a mother too soon after marriage. It's very easy for her to go on "intellectual hold" for eight to ten years, unless her husband is sensitive to her need to grow.
Leadership: You spoke earlier of Bob Pierce's insecurities. Is that common in ministerial ranks?
Gordon: I believe it is fairly safe to say that most leaders are insecure. In fact, insecurity is one of the greatest urges to leadership. It works like this: insecure persons approach a mass of people and do one of two things. They either climb on top of the group in order to control it and make life predictable, or else they crawl under the group and become invisible.
There are outstanding exceptions to what I've just said, but I believe it describes the majority of leaders, including pastors. That's why when I speak to pastors' wives, I say, "Begin with the assumption, until proven false, that your husband is an insecure man."
Gordon: And it's exacerbated if there's any duplicity in the pastor's lifestyle. If she sits on the front row on Sunday morning watching him preach, smile, and pray but keeps remembering the Thursday morning blow-up, the integrity gap widens. And when the congregation pours out love and affection in his direction, it only makes her angry.
Kent: My wife was very angry, not so much at Bob Pierce as at the kind of Christianity that allowed such a thing to exist. I feel the same way about the current teachings on prosperity. Christians are so stampeded and intimidated by people who seem successful. Nobody stands up and takes exception.
Leadership: What are the red flags for the non-celebrity today, the pastor of the average-sized church?
Mary: Questions to ask: Are you taking advice from anyone? When were you last challenged, and how did you handle it?
Friday, April 1, 1983
RAISING KIDS TO LOVE THE CHURCH
Children of the ministry are not volunteers; they are conscripts. But even they can grow up enjoying their experience.
Serving a church. Raising a family. Too often they seem like competing demands. Are pastors forced to shortchange one or the other?
The Healthy Hectic Home by LEADERSHIP managing editor Marshall Shelley offers the accumulated wisdom of people in ministry who have found ways to balance their dual calling to church and family. The following excerpt from that book deals with the pastor's challenge of providing a positive church experience for his own children.
What do Alice Cooper and Cotton Mather have in common? Not much, except that both grew up as sons of ministers.
The same is true of Aaron Burr, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Walter Mondale, John Tower, Marvin Gay, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sir Laurence Olivier. Other "preacher's kids" include Albert Schweitzer, Christian Barnaard, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
There is no guarantee, of course, that any child, whether born to a preacher, professor, plumber, or prince, will decide to live in a way that brings honor to God and joy to parents. Nor can pastoral couples ensure even that their children will find church a place to enjoy rather than endure.
Let's look at some of the key elements in helping kids have a healthy experience in their church life.
Orienting Children to the Ministry
Some orientation can help children handle the realities of life in a ministry home. If they are prepared, they aren't as likely to be jolted by difficult people or situations. Most pastors and spouses I surveyed said they brief their children not to expect people to be perfect, but to see the importance of ministry.
Entering Each Other's World
Parenting books stress the importance of spending time with your children. And who would argue? But some of these books leave the impression that parents should eliminate the activities they enjoy and bore themselves silly with coloring books and Parcheesi.
While it probably wouldn't harm any of us to join our preschoolers with the Play-Doh or our junior highers with the video games, involvement doesn't always have to mean descending to the level of a child in order to relate.
Preacher's kid Tim Stafford describes his own upbringing: "My father didn't join the neighborhood football games; we probably would have been embarrassed if he had. He never played Monopoly with us. He encouraged us in our chosen vocation of fishing, but he never bought a rod and reel himself. I always had the impression that we were kids, allowed the kiddish dignity of going about our kiddish affairs in all seriousness, without adult interference.
"I am not certain I can recommend my father's lack of involvement in our interests, but I strongly recommend his alternative-involving us in his. He allowed us to enter his world when we were interested in doing so. He and I trekked hundreds of miles in the back country of the Sierra Nevada together, not so much (I believe) because he was being a good father but because he wanted to go. We talked baseball because he was avidly interested. He also liked taking us to meetings with him. I remember particularly one Sunday night when after the evening service, I went with my father to a hotel restaurant to join a small circle of pastors chatting with Addison Leitch, one of my father's most admired seminary professors. I didn't know what they were talking about, but to this day my memory can bring back the rich pleasure of being allowed in adult male company as a sort of equal."
Church as second home
Because they're at the church so often, children will naturally begin to see it as their second home. A number of pastors have tried to use this fact to their advantage.
"As our children were growing up, we tried to let them see the privileges that go along with the pastorate," says Kent Hughes of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. "For example, they got the run of the church building during the week-gymnasium and all."
Jamie Buckingham, now pastoring in Florida, said that when his kids were small, "we wanted them to feel the church was an extension of their house, so they were welcome in the office-and occasionally during worship one of them would come up on the platform and stand with me during the congregational singing. I allowed that because it didn't disrupt our worship, and it helped reinforce that the church was their place, too."
Warm associations. Many pastors try to make sure their kids associate church with positive feelings. Part of this comes naturally through friends, caring teachers, and the positive perspective of parents. But at least one pastor did even more.
"I've always sat on the front row with my family during worship services, not up on the platform," wrote this pastor. "I go to the pulpit only when I have a specific task to perform. Otherwise I've always been sitting there stroking my children's hair, scratching the back of their necks, kneading their shoulders-and they never wiggled a muscle for fear I would stop. We never had a behavior problem in church with either of them. Now that they're older, they simply would not miss a church service-and I've pondered whether their faithfulness is not built to some extent on a subconscious association with good feelings of warmth and intimacy."
Avoiding after-service neglect. The moments right after the worship service are an important time for the pastor to make contact with people. But a crowded narthex can be a confusing place for young children, especially when both parents are concentrating on greeting worshipers.
One pastor's daughter told about trying to talk to her father in the foyer after the Sunday morning service. She shouted, "Dad, Dad," but she couldn't get his attention. Finally she said, "Pastor!" and got his immediate attention. Understandably, she felt her father was more interested in others than in her.
"I know that my children will superimpose the image of their father, to some degree, upon their understanding of God," says David Goodman, pastor of Winnetka (Illinois) Bible Church. "Most kids do. I don't want my kids seeing God as one who is interested only in others and not in them. At the same time, the time in the foyer after a Sunday service is crucial ministry time."
When Children Are Older
In the later elementary-school years and beyond, strategies change. Here are some methods used by ministry parents who have preteens and adolescents.
The first and most common is to involve the children in various aspects of the ministry. One way is to pay them for office work. "I'll often bring one of my kids to the church when he or she needs to earn a little money," said John Yates of The Falls Church in northern Virginia. "There's always some filing or sweeping that needs to be done, and I pay them out of my pocket.
"My dad was in the department store business when I was young. I started working there when I was 12, and he'd pay me out of his pocket. It made me feel special that my dad was in charge of this organization, and that I could work there, too. And the employees made us feel special. Well, I see that same kind of feeling here. My kids feel loved when they come here to work."
Another way to involve children is to take them along on certain kinds of visitation. Hank Simon of Signal Hill Lutheran Church near St. Louis, Missouri, takes his 10-year-old along every time he visits Mrs. Keller, a long-time member of the church who is a shut-in. And over the years Christy has grown very close to "her shut-in." Mrs. Keller often has little treats for Christy. For instance, when Christy took her an Easter basket, Mrs. Keller had some chocolate-covered peanuts for her.
"Christy is learning that caring is part of the Christian life," says Mary Simon, Christy's mom.
Yet another strategy is to occasionally single out children for special treatment. A number of pastors' kids recall their parents' doing something especially for them, even amid the busyness of ministry. This reminder that they were "more special" than the members of the congregation often made a profound and lasting mark on their attitudes toward ministry.
The Critical and the Contentious
When difficulties arise in church life, parents face the challenge of explaining to the kids what's happening without souring the children's attitudes toward the church. The approaches will differ depending on the ages and maturity levels of the children, of course, but some of the key principles remain constant.
Most pastoral families try to shield their children, especially in their younger years, from exposure to the criticisms and conflicts of church life.
"We don't want to poison their attitudes toward the church or toward any individual," said one minister's spouse. "So we don't roast the congregation at the dinner table. We try to focus on the positive things happening in the church."
Most pastors let their children know that other people often see things differently-and that's okay. They don't badmouth the people but try to explain the differing points of view.
Another pastor, F. Dean Lueking of Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, Illinois, established specific ground rules for talking about church conflicts.
"I always try to operate by this principle when I'm with my children: to talk about adversaries in such a way that if they were present, they'd feel their views had been fairly represented. I often find myself saying, 'I can see why he feels that way, even though it distresses me.' "
This practice gives children a healthy perspective on conflict. They see that even while people differ, respect can be maintained.
At times, though, Lueking found he needed to invoke a second ground rule, "our four-minute rule."
"Especially at the dinner table," he says, "we would put a limit of four minutes on conversation about congregational troubles. Then it would be on to the Cubs, vacation plans, our reading, or whatever. Pastors can go on and on about church problems, and I wanted to make sure that didn't dominate our talk and our thoughts."
Capitalizing on the Compensations
Perhaps the most important element in helping children grow up to love the church is not simply to prepare them for the bad times but to accentuate the good experiences.
Donald Bubna describes a tradition of hospitality his family developed while serving churches in San Diego and later in Salem, Oregon: "On Christmas Eve we would have a buffet in our home after the early Christmas Eve service for people who were alone. Christmas Day was our family celebration, but Christmas Eve was always an outreach event, and we'd invite people who needed it the most. That was part of our ministry as a family.
Not only did that provide positive memories, but it even had life-changing impact. The Bubna children are now grown and living on their own, but Don reports, "Last Christmas, we called our daughter, and she had put together a Christmas Eve buffet for some twenty people. Then we called our son who's in Alaska, and he'd had a group of people in, too, 'just like we always did, Dad.'
Saturday, October 1, 1988
Loving the Fishbowl Life
What allowed our daughters to survive, even thrive, in a ministry home.
LaVon and I were in our mid-20s with a three-year-old and a newborn when the bishop sent us to start a new church on the south side of Kansas City. Today my wife and I are approaching our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Danielle is a sophomore in college and Rebecca is a junior in high school. And we've all survived … so far.
The girls survived my 80-hour weeks. They survived living in the fishbowl, feeling that eyes were constantly on them, occasionally not being invited to parties for fear their father would find out what was happening there. They survived my interviews of their dates and our refusal to let them get tattoos or die their hair blue even when all the other kids were doing it.
They survived requirements to attend worship and Sunday school, give away 10 percent of their allowance, and participate in mission projects. They survived periods of doubting their faith. And today these girls have become remarkable young women. They didn't just survive. Somehow, by the grace of God, they thrived.
Looking back, I see we did some things right with our PKs. Here are a few of the lessons I learned.
1. You are not indispensable to your church, but you are indispensable to your family.
One Saturday evening my daughter collapsed on the volleyball court. My wife called, assuring me that our daughter was okay, though an ambulance was on the way just to make sure. It was stewardship weekend, and our Saturday service was about to begin, but I handed my sermon manuscript to a staff member and asked him to do the best he could to preach it, and I went to be with my daughter. (Had I not had an associate, I would have called one of our lay leaders).
Three things happened as a result: (1) My daughter knew that she came before the church. (2) The church knew that their pastor put his daughter's health before the church, and they knew this was the right thing. Several people told me I modeled something important for a congregation of driven business people. And (3) our staff and leaders saw that I trusted them.
This is an extreme example. More typical is asking to be excused from a committee meeting or Bible study for parent-teacher conferences or a band concert. Someone else can lead the meeting, but no one else can be you at your child's key events.
Having said that, I did not make every ball game and concert. As busy as kids are today, I would have to quit my job to attend everything. I picked the most important events and tried to make it to others if I could.
2. Look for ways to include your children in ministry.
Here is just one example: In the eighth year of my ministry at Resurrection, I requested and received an eight-week sabbatical. We bought a second-hand pop-up camper and a conversion van and took a 13,000-mile trek studying 26 of the leading churches in America.
In the mornings I interviewed church leaders, and in the afternoons our family explored local attractions: the Coca Cola plant in Atlanta, Beale Street in Memphis, caves in Kentucky, NASA in Houston, and a host of others.
We attended two churches each weekend, and I asked the girls to rate the children's ministries. This was one of our most memorable experiences, both for them and for LaVon and me.
Since then we've taken the girls on many mission trips, from Russia, to Honduras, to Mississippi. In appropriate ways, my ministry is our ministry.
3. Make the most of a crazy schedule.
When my youngest asks me, at 11:30 p.m., "Dad, how about you and me head to Taco Bell?" it doesn't matter whether I'm hungry or tired, this is an invitation I can't refuse. We have the best conversations at Taco Bell at midnight (note: we don't do this on school nights!)
When they were small, I would meet my daughters for lunch at school. I still plan special outings with them once a year, driving over to spend the day with my oldest at the university, or taking my youngest on an overnight trip.
I also continue to plan occasional date nights with each daughter. And, even though they are now nearly grown, we insist on "family night" at least twice a month.
As my children were growing up, they would see me, every night that I was home at bedtime, kneeling at their bedside praying. Five times a day I lift up my wife and children in prayer.
When my children were struggling with their faith in their teen years, I would kneel at their bed, long after they fell asleep, interceding on their behalf.
At times I would lie prostrate on the floor pleading with God on their behalf.
Prayer not only invites God's help, but it focuses our hearts on the person being prayed for. It leads us to love and sacrifice for them. Prayer matters when it comes to creating healthy families.
Adam Hamilton is the senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, and is a contributing editor to Leadership.
Sunday, October 1, 2006
Ministry in the Middle
We asked two PKs who are now raising their own PKs to tell us how they navigate ministry and family life.
Pete Briscoe has served since 1992 as pastor of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Dallas. He and his wife, Libby, have three children: Cameron, Annika, and Liam. Pete's parents, Stuart and Jill Briscoe, ministered for 30 years at Elmbrook Church in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Mark Batterson is pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Lora, have three kids: Parker, Summer, and Josiah. They have lived on Capitol Hill since 1996. While not a pastor's kid, Mark married into a pastor's family. His father-in-law, Bob Schmidgall, planted and pastored Calvary Church in Naperville, Illinois, for more than 30 years.
Growing up, what did you learn about ministry?
Pete: We often sat around the dinner table "talking church." While I'm glad for my seminary degree, my best training was table talk with Mom and Dad discussing church issues. Dad would throw out specific scenarios and ask each of us what we would do. It removed any rose-colored glasses and honestly faced the difficulties in leadership.
Mark: My father-in-law was my mentor and my model for ministry. I've never met anyone who worked harder at ministry, but his family always felt like they came first. I learned one of my "family rules" from him: my wife and kids can interrupt any meeting I'm in, no matter who I'm with. If they call, I answer.
What did you see modeled right for you?
Pete: My parents didn't like the "pastor's kid" thing. People in the congregation would pull my dad aside and say, "A pastor's kid should be acting better than that." With one such critic, my dad looked him in the eye and said: "Pastor's kid. The key word in that phrase is the second one, kid, not the first. He didn't choose that I would be a pastor. The truth is that he is a kid. Let's cut him some slack and hold him to the same standards as other kids."
That gave me a freedom that I appreciated from my dad.
Mark: I was not a PK, but I'm very intentional about a few things with our kids. I try to focus on all the blessings that are a byproduct of being a pastor. When we receive a gift or some kindness, we share the blessing with our kids.
We do have to protect our kids from some of the negativity of church life. We want to model generosity to our kids. We also live in an urban environment so our kids are surrounded by diversity and exposed to poverty. We try to involve our kids in serving and giving as much as possible.
Did you see anything, growing up, that you decided NOT to do?
Pete: My dad traveled extensively when we were young, which allowed him to have an extremely fruitful ministry. But there was a cost with the kids. He missed the vast majority of my basketball games in high school and college, for instance.
One generation sacrifices family on the altar of ministry. Another sacrifices ministry on the altar of family.
We were talking about this one day, and he said, "Pete, my generation failed in that we tended to sacrifice family on the altar of ministry. I fear your generation is sacrificing ministry on the altar of family." I think he's right, on both fronts. My hope is to fully engage my ministry and my family but to do so in an appropriate way during distinctive seasons of life. So, I am not traveling much at all when the kids are growing, but I am investing my time in ministries that allow my message to travel without ever leaving Dallas.
How do you keep your family a priority?
Mark: A few months ago, I took my son, Parker, snowboarding. I skipped our Saturday night services to do it. And as I was riding the chairlift to the top of the slope, suddenly I realized that my life had really revolved around NCC over the last decade.
I felt like I needed to reorder my life. I went into the year with three New Year's Resolutions:
1. Don't check email on my day off.
2. Don't spend more than 30 nights away from my family for speaking engagements.
3. Use all my vacation days.
A while back I decided I would give the church one night a week for church related meetings. Honestly, I could have meetings every night of the week. But I need to coach my kid's teams and help them with their homework. I need to be a dad first and a pastor second.
What's your most important goal with your kids?
Mark: My most important ministry this year is discipling my pre-teen son. On his last birthday, I took him camping and we signed a covenant around a campfire that included three challenges: a physical challenge, intellectual challenge, and spiritual challenge. We'll train for and run a 10K together. We'll read twelve books together. And we'll read the New Testament together, as well as some other spiritual disciplines. If he meets those challenges, I'll take him someplace really special for his next birthday to celebrate his accomplishments.
I'm not a perfect dad. But I'm determined to disciple my son. I want to give him everything I've got. And I need to know that I gave fatherhood my best shot.
Pete: For Libby and me, our passionate desire for our kids is that they know Jesus. I mean really know Jesus. We see in the Bible that most faith growth takes place during difficult times. So we expose them to the real world while trying to address real issues. We know they will make poor choices (we hoping that they do so seldom), and we pray that when they do, they get caught! Then, instead of seeing those poor choices as the end of life as we know it, we pray diligently about how to point in the darkness to the Light. We want them to fall in love with the one who can rescue them and show them gracious love in the midst of failure.
We aren't as interested in "did they go into ministry?" or "did they perform their roles well?" But simply "do they know and love Jesus?"
Friday, July 11, 2008
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