. . . the minister, the minister's wife, the minister's teenager and the minister's kid
Give a shout-out to the ministry family.
A ministry family lives in:
a. the proverbial fishbowl
b. constant fear of being judged
c. a crazy, hectic world like everyone else
d. all of the above
There was probably no one who had to scratch his head before choosing option "d" from the list.
Ministering to a minister is crucial. Whether by "minister" you mean the senior pastor, worship leader, education, student or children's minister, they all have tough jobs. Few professions are more demanding, time consuming, frustrating, but all the while, deeply fulfilling and eternally significant than a minister's.
When you add in the minister's family, it gets even more important to extend the love (and grace). A minister will do a better job if his family is being taken care of, too. Ministry families are unique. They are looked at as something special – which they are – but it's important to remember they are still normal families.
Why not take some time now, in the middle of the busy summer, to show some special appreciation for the ministry family. Some of our Lifeway people who work with ministers and ministry families have offered these tips.
1. Pray. Specifically pray for him and his family. Pray for wisdom, courage, protection, patience, brokenness, godliness, leadership, and passion.
2. Be an encourager. A written note can be kept and reread on those lonely and confusing days when the "call to ministry" seems to be the only thing he has to hold on to.
3. Remember him throughout the year. Send birthday, anniversary and special occasion wishes. In addition, when a minister actually sees his spouse and family being genuinely cared for by others, it calms his spirit. "Genuinely" is the operative word.
4. Be his prayer warrior. Those serendipitous emails from prayer warriors are often written prayers laced with Scripture, authentic love and appreciation. An inbox filled with these types of emails can be treasured and timely.
5. Speak positively and genuinely about him in public as well as in private. Be accountable to speak more often and more highly of your minister.
6. Give a gift card. Who doesn't love to eat! Give him a card of appreciation and include a gift card to go out to eat somewhere nice. This can make for a date night as well.
7. Tell him to go away. Ministers need time away to be refreshed and renewed. A Sunday school class or small group could give him (either by himself or with his wife or family) an opportunity to get away for a day or two to pray, retool or rest. A minister gets tired and needs a break. You can't imagine the pressure.
8. Support him by serving. There are countless ways to support your minister by just serving in your church. It's frustrating that most church members serve inconsistently, if at all. Don't just volunteer, but be a recruiter of volunteers.
9. Speak the truth in love. This does not give anyone the right to be rude. A minister will be more appreciative and open when he knows the speaker is motivated by godliness.
10. Be a disciple. The best thing you can do to support your minister is to be a part of the plan and process of becoming a disciple who thinks and acts like Christ. This makes you part of the solution in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Gary Jennings is a consultant in Lifeway's church partnerships area.
The minister's wife
1. Support her ministry passion. Do not assume your minister's wife WANTS to be a leader or member of your leadership team. Find out what her passion is for ministry and support her in it.
2. Ask how you can pray for her and her family. For a large staff, each month pray for a different minister and spouse. Find out specific requests and send a note of encouragement during that month.
3. Remember special dates. Send birthday and anniversary cards to your ministers and their family members.
4. Let her be known as an individual. Ask your minister's wife if she would be willing to share her story with your women at an event or small group. Let her know you want to get to know her personally, and you want the women in your church to know her, too.
5. During staff appreciation times, do something special for the wives. Provide them with a "pamper time" that could include manicures, pedicures, massages or facials.
6. Do not complain to her about her husband! If you have an issue to discuss, go directly to the minister you need to talk to.
7. Give her a night off. If she has young children, offer to take the kids so that she and her husband can have a night alone. Or, offer to keep them overnight so they can go out of town for a night or two.
8. Let her serve. If she loves to teach, ask if she would lead your next Bible study for a short period of time. If she's not a teacher, ask her to be a part of the study as a member.
9. Buy her a great book. Give her a copy of In Our Shoes: Real Life Issues for Ministers' Wives. This is a ministers' wives Bible study written by real life ministers' wives Jennifer Landrith and Rachel Lovingood. If you have more than one staff wife, give each one a copy so they can do the study together.
10. Cut her some slack. Remember, she is just like you . . . a busy woman who has a heart for God and is seeking how to grow and serve Him. She struggles with some of the same issues you do, but hers may be much more visible!
Chris Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the senior lead women's ministry specialist at Lifeway.
The minister's husband
1. Don't think my wife works one day a week. While Sunday is typically "game day" for ministers, the rest of the week is much busier. The worst question to ask me is "What does your wife do the rest of the week?"
2. Don't complain to me about my wife or her ministry. If you have an issue, go to her. I'm not your emissary.
3. Keep me informed. Communication differs from church to church, but don't assume she tells me everything. If you need to get a message to me, come to me, not my wife.
4. Encourage my wife. When my wife is encouraged, I am encouraged. Ministers hear complaints nearly everyday, and it's hard for them not to take it personally. Words of encouragement can seem few and far between. Every exhortation makes a difference.
5. Keep conversations confidential. If I confide information or a prayer need to you, please keep it close. Gossiping churches are not healthy churches.
6. Don't hold our kids to a higher standard. Our kids will sometimes do dumb things just like your kids do. Extend the same grace toward them you would want to be shown toward your children.
7. Volunteer and serve. If you are breathing, you are qualified to serve. A ministry can never have too many volunteers. I'm usually called on to fill the gaps in my wife's ministry. I can only fill so many gaps.
8. Respect our family time. Unless it's an emergency, your call, email or text can wait until tomorrow.
9. Offer to keep the kids. Ministry is hard on families. A random offer of childcare often provides a welcome respite from the hectic schedule ministry requires.
10. Pray for our marriage. Ministry is not easy. Pray for our spiritual growth. Pray for our family. Pray for us.
Jonathan Howe is married to Beth Howe, the minister to children and preschoolers at CrossPoint Church in Trussville, Alabama. He is a social media facilitator with Lifeway.
The minister's teenager
1. Treat him like a normal teen. Give the minister's kid room to breathe and just be a teen, rather than expecting him to have all the answers, behave a certain way or be an absolute rebel.
2. Give him room to doubt and question. Give him room to deal with doubts and questions, while you strive to be a safe person he can trust as he struggles and grows in his faith.
3. Show up. There may be times when your minister simply can't be at a game, play or other event in his teen's life because of ministry duties. Show up and cheer the teen on.
4. Pray. Pray for your minister's teens like you would your own – that he would seek God as he faces temptations, encounters opportunities to follow Christ daily and confronts fears, doubts and questions.
5. Remember special days. Know the important days in the teen's life and make them special. Try cards, care packages, phone calls and texts.
6. Include them. Your minister's teen may not feel like he fits in anywhere in the church. Be the person who helps him feel less alienated, while also helping him find unique ways to serve.
7. Embrace his individuality. Find out about his gifts, talents and passions. Encourage him to find ways to use those passions to bring glory to God.
8. Listen. Make opportunities to really listen to him without expectation, judgment or pat answers. Be a safe person to talk to and respond in Christ-like love.
9. Be a mentor. Find ways to come alongside him and walk through life with him, showing him what it means to follow Christ day-to-day.
10. Encourage your minister to spend time with his family. Children of ministers may feel like they take second place to the church. Make sure your minister knows that the church honors and encourages his commitment to his family.
Mandy Crow is editor of ec magazine for students.
The minister's kids
1. Allow your minister to put his family first. Nurturing and building relationships with family takes effort, energy and time. Your minister needs to know that he has permission to be the husband and parent God has called him to be. Allow him to set the standard for the rest of your church.
2. Treat their dad with love and respect. Most kids think their dad is the greatest! Their relationship with their dad is often the basis for their relationship with their heavenly Father. It's amazing how many ministers' kids become disillusioned with God because of the way the church treated their dad.
3. Allow your minister's kids to be human. The minister's kids are just like any other kids. They have good days and bad days. They enjoy some things more than others. They want to be treated like the rest of the group.
4. Offer a helping hand. Have you ever noticed that when your minister is at church he's pretty busy? Have you noticed that during worship your minister's kids might need some extra love? Offer to sit with your minister's family when he's not available.
5. Offer to be adopted grandparents. Every kid needs to be spoiled rotten by their grandparents, yet many of our ministers' kids live a long way from their extended family and don't get that opportunity. Consider adopting your minister's kids a couple times a year for some VIP treatment.
6. Give gifts that include your minister's kids. Ministers often receive gifts of appreciation during the year. Consider giving a family-inclusive gift like theme park passes, a zoo membership, gift cards to a local movie theater or tickets to special events in your community.
7. Recognize the kids' sacrifice to the church. On special occasions, celebrations, milestones and anniversaries, acknowledge the entire family's service and sacrifice. Kids often share their dad during evenings and weekends because of church ministries and needs. Recognize and appreciate their part in their dad's ministry.
8. Talk with the kids about themselves. Speak to the kids, not just the minister. Resist the urge to always bring up their dad and church stuff. Take the time to discover their interests and have conversations with them about them. Find ways to make them feel special.
9. Take your minister and his family to lunch. The next time you take your minister and his family for a meal, ask his kids to pick the restaurant.
10. Make your minister's kids feel valued. Look for opportunities to encourage, congratulate and dote over your minister's kids. Celebrate good grades, recitals, sports games and school achievements.
Bill Emeott is Lifeway's kids ministry specialist.