Balancing Family And Youth Ministry Part 1: Creating Family Traditions

This week we dive into three posts centered around Balancing Family and Ministry:

It was a handful of months into our marriage when John and I got pregnant for our daughter. While we both remained  in ministry,  the Lord gave us a family and their stewardship was vital in every way.  From the start our intentions were always to have family practices that were “ours” but,  it was easy to allow those to be pushed aside when “life” took over.   Instead of  “investing” in  our kids we were dragging them with us.

Family Traditions in MinistryAs a couple we had to sit down and come up with a plan so that our children would always know , no other youth was more important. There are everyday practices and traditions that needed to be put into place (and quickly) for our kids.  What did we do?

1. “Learned” our kids:  We heard often “date your children.” Purposeful time set aside for each child was important.  However, we also noticed each child needed this time to be different. I have one that adores just sitting and chatting and has from toddler hood.  While another wants to spend a day in action.  This time didn’t have to be long, but based around time with them, doing what they enjoy.

2. “Sacred” Family Time Once A Week:  This is an evening or a day when phones are off, and put away.  We actually have an evening and a day each week that fits this category.  Once a month on Saturday we do a “paid” outing.   This is the zoo or a museum or something fun (that costs money.)   The point is that the “rest of the world” is shut out and your purpose is just to spend time together.

3. At least ONE meal a day together.  Honestly, this can be the hardest one to stick to.  However, the importance of a time where you are all sitting together as a family once a day is vital.  It might need to be breakfast, it could be an afternoon snack.  The point is that all electronics are powered down and you are talking to each other.

4. Open lines of communication: Deut. 6 tells us to be talking about the Lord and his Word to our kids all the time.  Have deep conversations every moment they present themselves: in the car, as they get ready for school,  making dinner… you get the point.  Start this young, and when adolescence hits  it is already a habit.

5. Start young and keep it up.   I used to think that there “would come a day when my kids would be too old for…”  Now that my children are either in or on the cusp of the teen years,  we see they need and want us more than ever. They still want John and I individually to “put them to bed.”  It no longer entails rocking them to sleep,  or a night time story.  However, they treasure that few moments each day they get us to themselves.  We pray and chat.  Often this is the time we get the most information from them about their true feelings in life.

6. Vacations and Holidays:  This has been said by everyone, but I just have to.  Taking an extended time with my family once a year is essential. It’s when we remember we like each other.  It doesn’t have to be something huge or expensive.  Just take time.  During holidays when ministry seems to want all of our time,   we find something that is “ours.”  We have a red-velvet cake Christmas day for Jesus.

What are your family traditions? What on this list has helped your family? 


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  • Russell Martin

    My first time in youth ministry I was single, had all the time in the world. Now I am married with a 2 year old. Thank you so much for this series and the reminders to keep family first.

  • philbell

    Russell! Thanks for your comment, you are welcome. All of us have a lot of stories of failure and success in balancing family and ministry. We love to share what we are learning. I have a 6, 3 and newborn at home. I hear ya! :-)