ATT: Children’s ministers and family ministers– stop ministering! Really.

Right about now I figure most of you are pretty stressed. From fall festivals through Christmas celebrations life can get pretty hectic for those in church ministries. You have the heart to minister. All year long the Lord has given you opportunities to further His kingdom through ministries to children and families.

Now it is time to take a deep breath and stop ministering – to others. It is time to minister to your own family.  I hope all of you will seriously consider and remember your own families this year not only at the holiday season but also throughout the year. Start with  Christmas.

I have this personal belief that if you don’t minister to your own families, you can’t be effective when ministering to other families. Allow me to share my story of how the Lord led me to minister to my own family a few years back.

Since this involves the military in my family, some details will be sketchy and some even altered so as to protect my daughter and her family from the current worldwide wide threats to military personnel and their families.

Calling in the promise card

A few years ago I was blissfully leading a full life in North Carolina. I was semi retired, working with two different churches and preparing for the up and coming holidays when I got a call from daughter.

“Mom, I’m calling in that promise card. I need you. I’m being deployed to Afghanistan!”

I had been a single parent for the majority of her life. When she was a teen I had made her a promise. I told her even though I couldn’t always be there for her when she had kids I would be there for my grandkids. Now all these years later it was time to honor that promise.

Ministering to family – it was what I was called to do

There was no doubt, no praying about it, no other consideration than it was time to minister to my own grandchildren. I cancelled all of my speaking engagements except CPC, Children’s Pastor’s Conference. I pulled out of all writing assignments. We packed up our house; put all the furniture in storage and moved across country and moved into my daughter’s house.

I became the full time caregiver for three children – a preschooler, an elementary age child and a middle school child. My son-in law was also in the military. The holidays were extremely stressful that year. But I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else caring for my grandchildren. It was my responsibility but also my ministry.

A scene from the holiday time

My daughter always started the holiday time with Halloween. They celebrated fall and then went right into Thanksgiving. On the heels of Thanksgiving came Christmas. I was bound and determined to keep things the same.

On Halloween after doing the fall festival at church and then traveling to a small town to do the corn maze the littlest grandson was exhausted. That evening all of a sudden he ran sobbing for his room. I followed him into his room. He was hunched down in the corner with his back to me sobbing.

I said, “Come on sweetie let’s go take a bath” to which he shouted “NO!”

I then said, “But you need a bath. You have dirt all over you from the corn maze.”

He shouted and sobbed, “I don’t need a bath. I need my MOMMY!

Oh my! I knew he wasn’t throwing a temper tantrum. He really needed his mommy. With a big lump in my throat, I quickly prayed, “Oh God give me the right words to say.” At that moment I believe the Lord placed the following words in my mouth.

“Oh sweetie I know you need your mommy. And that is why God sent me here.”

His sobbing subsided and while sniffing he said, “What?” I replied with, “God sent me here so when you need your mommy you can hug your mommy’s mommy and…” before I could get anything else out, that sobbing little three year launched himself onto me and his little arms went around my neck. He held on tight.

Those moments

All of us that minister to children have had “those moments”. Let me tell you that moment was the sweetest moment I have ever experienced. We both sat there on the floor with him in my lap and tears streaming down our faces.

We got through Christmas without my daughter. That was difficult and Christmas night the little one had another short breakdown. I found him crying in his room after everyone had gone to bed. He needed to hug his mommy’s mommy again.

Ministry to family is sweet. I pray you will minister to your own family this year and they in turn will fill your heart to the fullest it has ever been.


My daughter Julie on duty in Afghanistan.


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