Summer schedules in ministry can bring out the worst in us. While we certainly enjoy spending time with family and friends, going to camps, serving on mission trips, and taking in the sun, summertime can get crazy. The challenge that we often face is how to balance family and ministry when the deadlines are hitting, the events aren’t going the way we hoped, and students show up at the house at all times. While these are all normal parts of a healthy student ministry, they can put a strain on your family. The goal is to make sure your family understands this season and that you work together to prioritize what is most important. Here are a few ways prioritizing family can help you avoid the potential family feud.
- Include your family. This may seem basic, but think of all the ways your family can serve together during the summer. Rather than saying goodbye when it’s time to go to camp, try to bring your family with you. Regardless of the event, though, your family can enjoy serving with you and seeing you serve. There are great benefits in your spouse and/or your kids seeing ministry in acton. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to make your family part of big summer activities:
1. Don’t leave your younger kids for others to watch over. It may seem perfectly fine to let your little ones wander around unsupervised by you, because, who wouldn’t want to babysit them the whole time? Look how cute they are? You can bring someone to help you if you choose, but don’t turn your family into a burden for the whole group to bear. They didn’t sign up to be babysitters. And there can always be the chance that your kids become that distraction that keeps others from truly engaging in ministry or being impacted by the message. Watch your own kids or plan specifically for someone else to help with the task.
2. This isn’t your family vacation. Make sure your people aren’t seeing you and your family as taking advantage of the ministry endeavor. Obviously camp and mission trips and the like will offer opportunities for fun. But be careful to ensure those you serve understand that you are focused on the ministry and the plans you invited them to join you on.
3. Take moments and make them family focused. Be intentional about finding some time just for your family. This can be tough at a camp or mission project, but you can do it. Even if it’s an early breakfast or a bedtime routine. Give them time and attention and create some memories you will cherish together.
- Plan with your family. Before summer even begins spend some time going over the season. Make sure your spouse is fully aware of what the calendar looks like. Explain to your children that you will be away for some of these dates. Communicating on the front end will help with expectations and bring clarity to this potentially crazy season. While planning, discuss what you will do with the family alone that summer. Even if it is a Saturday alone, make sure you and your family spend time together intentionally during the summer season.
- Be discerning. As the summer months pass pay attention to your family. Watch and listen closely. Is there something that needs to be addressed? Is there something you need to be a part of? Often our families don’t want to involve us in the challenges when they think we are busy with work and events. Make sure you are watching closely for these things and communicating well with your family. Make sure they know you are prioritizing them before the ministry.
- Communicate. Perhaps the number one challenge with summer is the same challenge all families face every day of the year: communication. Talk to your spouse. Talk to your children. More importantly, listen to them. Explain why you do what your do, help them understand ministry and how important it is. You want your family to know that ministry isn’t something that takes their parent away, but something that impacts the world for the sake of the gospel. The frequency of your communication as well as the depth of your explanation will help immensely with this task. Additionally, communication should always increase as seasons get more busy and more hectic.
Families will always face challenges, that’s normal. But the busyness of a season like summer can push even the closest families to the brink. You can never truly avoid the inevitable misunderstanding or argument, this is after all your family. But you can navigate this season in such a way that you make the most of the time with your family, avoid the big breakdowns, and intentionally minister together. Rather than a family feud, you can fuel your family for a great season together.
This post was written by Chris Swain, Director of LifeWay Student Ministry Publishing