Family Focused Student Ministry – Part 2: You

Yesterday I began a five-part series reflecting on why it’s important to be family focused in our student ministries. I also gave a quick snapshot of how I keep this focus. Today I want to continue this focus by looking closer at one aspect I mentioned in my previous post:

IT STARTS WITH ME (OR YOU): In 1 Timothy 3 Paul gives Timothy the charge of calling overseers and deacons. He insists, “if anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church”? In the same way, as a church leader, I have to realize that healthy family ministry starts with me and how I model health for students and their families. It’s crucial that I understand how my ministry will reflect my own life and family…

THE BOTTOM LINE: Disagree with me or not, I firmly believe that a healthy family focus go hand in hand with a successful ministry. I believe that God honors my efforts when I ensure that I am healthy for myself and my family. If you are like me, I want my family to be healthy and my ministry too. It’s not easy, and it takes God’s strength and wisdom, but it can be done…

HERE’S WHAT I DO: Here’s a quick bullet goals, boundaries and guidelines to stay family focused for myself:

  • Pray: Obvious, but not always practiced. If you are like me, it is so easy to allow life and busyness to create unhealthy family patterns. Prayer for my family has been something that I have had to become intentional about.
  • Work Hard – Play Hard (At the Right Times): A huge help to being family friendly is making sure that when I am on ministry time I work hard and work effectively. While I am in the trenches I want to use my time wisely and not get side-tracked. Once my ministry time is done, I make a point of “playing hard” with my family.
  • Family Schedule: Schedule my family calendar first before I add events/meetings/additional programs. We include a family nights (every two weeks), date nights every (two weeks), and get together with friends.
  • Read Books About Healthy Family Life. It’s easy to always read ministry books, I try to add in some books that help me and my family grow.
  • Dinner: First, eat dinner as many nights as we can. Even if I have a program on an evening I try my best to work my schedule around dinner times, (even it is a quick “pit-stop” dinner).
  • No Phone at Dinner: When we eat dinner these days, I try to remember to turn my phone off until we are finished. Is it so bad if someone gets a call-back after dinner?
  • Daddy Daughter Dates: I have two girls and I think they are lovely! Every couple of months we go on a daddy-daughter date. Last week I took my eldest to lunch after I picked her up from preschool. I am convinced that much of my daughters security and confidence comes from my affirmation as a dad. I have seen this to be true for boys too…
  • Family Traditions: Just ask my eldest some of the family traditions we have and she will quickly tell you, “Saturday morning pancakes, movie nights with popcorn and hot chocolate, bike rides at the park with picnics, getaways up North…” These are not just one-off events, they have become traditions that feel impossible to break.
  • Include Like-Minded Friends To Help: Over the past few years we have developed some great friendships with many couples who are a few years older than us. Most of their kids have grown up and are married or are about to be. Their friendships have been wonderful, but their experience and wisdom is incredible.
  • Take A Full Day Off: This is perhaps one of the hardest things for me to do with a young family and if I am honest, I am a work in progress. However, I am finding that my family gets my best when I am rested.
  • No Phone Calls Or Texts In The Car: I learned this one recently from Doug Fields at The Simply Youth Ministry Conference. When he gets in the car with his wife or kids, he will not text or call anyone. Again, just a small but important way to communicate being fully present for my family…

Well, that is about what I have for now. If I come up with more, I will post them in my comments. I am sure some of you have some brilliant ideas and I would love to hear them!

Tomorrow: Family Focused Student Ministry – Part 3 – Focusing in how I make my ministry healthy for my volunteers.

Phil <><

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