Saturday, September 24, 2011

God's Calling on "Our" Time Part 1

Today is a very dear friend's birthday!  I spoke on the phone with her yesterday and had a good little visit with her, though I wish it could've been in person!  She happens to be new to the stay-at-home mom thing to her two little girls.  I didn't have time to answer a question she asked me at the end of our visit, so I thought I'd answer it here.

She asked, "I know you're the preacher's wife, but how do you decide how much to do at church and other activities so you're also home enough?" - and while that's in quotes, those words are actually my paraphrase.

That's a great question!  I wish I had a perfect answer, but every family situation is going to be different because of the various needs each child brings with their own personality, gifts, and special needs.  Husbands work different jobs on crazy schedules.  Women have different callings to specific areas of ministry, some more demanding of our time than others.  All that said, I do believe there are certain guidelines we can use to determine if we're doing enough or too much.  As I began to write this, I realized these might be too lengthy to read in one sitting, so I will only cover a few guidelines at a time.

Keep your priorities the priorities.  A couple of years before I was married I went to a wedding of a couple called to ministry.  The pastor that performed the ceremony reminded Weldon and Sandy that their priorities should be: 1)God, 2) each other, and 3)the church.  I can expand on that a little.  Our relationship with God should be #1 no matter whether we're ordained to ministry or if we're laypeople.  My relationship with my husband is my highest earthly priority.  I would venture to add a third priority of children before coming to the church.  To accept marriage is to accept the gift of children if God so grants. 

Especially in the case of a pastor or a deacon, family life must be kept in order to be fit to serve the church.  The qualifications of church leaders are listed in 1 Timothy 3.  Verses 4 and 5 say: "one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity.  (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God's church?)" - obviously family must come before church for priority #4 to be properly cared for properly. 

I believe church should be a high priority for laypeople as well because these are the people Christ died for, His bride.  They are to be our family, our fellow brothers and sisters.  God works through the local church, more so than any other small group Bible study, BCM, or parachurch organizations because God created the church Himself.

Corporate worship, the meeting together of the church weekly, should not EVER be avoided.   I just explained how family comes after our relationship with God but before church.  God commanded in Exodus 20:8-11 that we are to dedicate the Sabbath day (which now we observe on Sunday since Christ rose that day).  Hebrews 10:25 says, "not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near".  This is the bare minimum God asks, to be in worship with fellow believers once  a week.  I believe further involvement in Sunday School will help to hold us accountable.  You may be "lost" in the crowd in the sanctuary, but in a small group setting of your peers that meets on Sunday mornings, if you are faithful, people will begin to notice should you not be there for a few Sundays. 

"Back in the day" one might see younger couples that had been raised in church, had slacked off in their late teens and early twenties, but then made a return once little ones came along.  Unfortunately, today we see way too many new moms fall away because they allow the baby to be the boss.  I am all for moms being home with newborns, especially during cold and flu season, because it is not worth the risk of exposing a small infant to a germ, the child running a fever and having to go to the hospital.  This doesn't mean that dad and siblings must stay home.  In fact, it would be best for dad and siblings to continue in their routine, and change clothes and sanitize upon their return home, to help especially small children remember how to reverently worship in church. 

What I'm talking about is this:  The baby whose nap falls during church hours, so the family needs to be home.  The child that pitches a fit during every service, and whose parents decide it is just easier to stay home rather than train the child in the right way.  The family that always has a "sick" child or a "bad night". 

Ok, before you think I'm terribly hard and critical, let me explain why I feel the way I do.  As for naps, one day a week not following the normal routine will not hurt a child.  I'm a big believer in routines.  Trust me, one day will not hurt, and it's possible, if a baby is regularly in nursery, he or she may learn to sleep in the crib at church.  If not, a longer afternoon nap may be in your future. 

As to a child needing to learn how to worship reverently, he can't do it if he's not regularly in worhsip.  Others will not despise your child's behavior so long as they see that you are making an effort to manage it.  For me, there's a certain relief to see a parent taking a child out of worship to discipline him and then bring him back in ready to try again.  Praise God the parents are trying to raise their child in the fear and admonition of the Lord! 

Bad nights happen to parents of small children too.  I have been there!  I have to ask myself if I'm going to let Satan win that battle.  Sometimes, I feel like Satan sends demons to specifically target sleep patterns in babies so that Saturday nights become the most difficult nights of all.  I'm so not kidding.  He has attacked this preacher's family on many a Saturday night.

Please do keep sick children home from church.  We do not need to spread the germs around, but we also need to be realistic.  I follow the same rules for church that schools ask parents to follow.  If there has been no fever for at least twenty-four hours, it is acceptable to go on to church.  Listen to what your doctor recommends.  If it's possible to take a baby into worship that has recently been sick, but seems to be on the mend, and you don't want to get other kids sick, by all means, bring that child into worship.  Moms can always take a child out, but I believe God rewards the effort.

I believe most women who will read this are already following these two guidelines, maybe they're just reminders.  I'll hit more next time that might be a little under the radar.

1 comment:

Susan Evans said...

Yes, it's so important to keep priorities straight! That's why so many preacher's kids and missionary kids end up walking away from the faith. The parents feel more spiritually fulfilled to serve others than their own families.

Being faithful to go to church is so important, too. I know so many families that have been burned by church and don't go any more, disobeying Scripture.