Monday, November 06, 2006

Setting my priorities straight

Last week I received an email from my new blog friend Cheryl who is in ministry with her family in Africa. She had read that I’d spent part of my childhood in Mexico in a ministry family. She writes:
My husband and I are constantly seeking to learn how to make this life a blessing for our children...fellow MK's are treasures of information for us as to what we can do or what we can stop doing :-) in order to be a blessing for our kids.

The two questions I commonly ask MK's are:

1. What did you like most about your life as an MK? and
2. What would you have changed?

Isn’t she a wise woman?

I listed a few things for her. Cultural benefits, family memories, things like that.

Overall, however, I can honestly say in the long view of things, and from my perspective as a kid, any pros or cons to ministry life pale in comparison to one thing:

My parents stayed together.

Here’s what I wrote her:
My parents always let us know that they would never "win the world" at the expense of the family. Ministry families are particularly vulnerable - starting with marriages. I think more than anything, having confidence in my parents' love for each other made living away from extended family and culture tolerable. If being on the mission field had somehow damaged their relationship, I would have a whole lot of trouble with my faith in God, even now.
Watching last week’s events, broadcasting a prominent Christian leader’s moral failings, made me even more thankful for this perspective on ministry. My heart simply aches for this family. Can there be any doubt we are in a war for our marriages?

I know most of us are not in full-time ministry, although they are doubtless our Enemy’s prime targets. But that doesn’t make the battle less fierce for any of us. You and I simply can’t afford to live passive, unexamined lives filled with “good” activities...activities (ministry-related or not) that keep us too busy to keep our priorities straight.

I know I talk a lot about parenting on this blog (because I am so often inept at it!). But I want to encourage you to remember our priorities according to Titus 2:

God - husband - children.

In that order.

After my relationship with God - His incredible grace which provides the basis for everything I do - my marriage is my main concern. Everything else must fall into line behind these things, even ministry. Even children. Yes, I want to be a great mom, but as the old saying goes, I will never be a better mother than I am a wife. My kids instinctively need the rock-solid foundation of parents who are committed to each other for life. God set it up that way.

So whether I serve God in Africa or in suburbia, my marriage is my priority. It is worth fighting for. And as I told Cheryl, I like to think that is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids.

Today, I’m asking myself:
  • In a few years, if our kids are asked what we did right, what will they say?
  • How can I make my husband a priority today?

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
Mark 8:36


Rachel said...

Thanks for the reminder. My moved to Africa with my parents when I was a sophomore in high school. It was a big transition. But ultimately I think that it was good. Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, Katherine.
These are my desires, as well. As a daughter of the King. As the wife of a minister. As Mama to 3.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely Katherine. Thank you for sharing.

I was thinking to myself, God, husband, children, home, Blog needs to come lower on the list than I put it sometimes.

Thanks for encouraging me today.

Susanne said...

Standing up and applauding Katherine. That was an excellent post!

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

Amen and Amen!!
Wow what great wisdom!
I need constant reminders.

The book I am currently reading "Feminine Appeal" deals directly with this whole area.

Heather said...

This is so very true. I have a close friend who is the daughter of missionaries. Their marriage broke up and they left the field. It changed her life and even now she is struggling back out of a situation she got herself into but which would likely not have happened had her parents been together and she been able to speak with them as a family instead of across the US.

voni said...

Yes, Yes, Yes, Totally hear you. Ministry is demanding. There will always be something you have to do or a pressing need. You have to TAKE the time to minister to your family. Time is something God gives not people. That is why we have to claim it and make sure we are nurtering our marraiges and our families even if we have to say no to other good things.

Code Yellow Mom said...

Right on. Again. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%. Marriage is the closest relationship God created. It represents Christ and the church. We have to fight to keep it strong for the glory of God. The children will benefit greatly as a result.

Anonymous said...

I can not begin to tell you how many time I say I am so thankful I was never from a broken home, something fewer and fewer people can say.

I pray my boys feel the blessing also one day. Hubby and I have been together for 13 years and I plan on many many more =)

MicheleinNZ said...

My husband is an MK and the thing he most often talks about is the exposure to so many different cultures and ways of life, which makes him a very flexible man today. What he also talks about is a father that was always away and didn't have time to go to his tennis matches. Nearly 20 years later he hasn't forgotten. As we work towards going overseas as well, we work very hard to place our priorities in the correct order, knowing that your parents were right in saying that you won't win the world if you're not meeting the needs of your family at home.

annie said...

My Bishop often talks about this very thing. Whenever he calls someone to a position in the church, he always consults with the spouse first, and he makes sure that they realize their priorities in order: God, spouse, children, job, church responsibilities, other involvements.

My husband and I are both from families that had very rocky marriages. We're learning from their mistakes, but hope our children will have much better models to follow.

Thanks for the reminder.

Laura said...

Katherine will you stop smucking me upside the's starting to hurt! I have to really mull this over and make sure I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing in terms of putting my marriage ahead of my children and making sure I'm taking responsibility for my part of it. Thanks! Laura

Carol said...

Excellent! Bravo!

Amazingly, when we do keep God first, the other things remain in perspective according to His will - husband, kids, ministry... Following His lead keeps us in perfect alignment with His will for us. For me, that's the key. How frustrating it all becomes when I lose sight of this.

Thank you for these thoughts, Katherine!

Rachel said...

I've been thinking about your request and when I've gotten all my thoughts sorted out I'll email them to ya. Thanks for asking.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful! I love this post. We should all be as secure in our God-given priorities. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I am a mom of five, too. I was married to a minister, serving alongside him, working hard to maintain and perfect Christian family with good Christian kids. In our efforts to keep things together on the outside, we lost our marriage.

I am now a single mom of five. My husband is trying to find himself. My kids are doing well, but they've lost the one thing that can never be replaced, even in the best of circumstances.

This is an excellent post. The best thing we can do as parents is to stay together in a healthy, God-honoring marriage. Healthy is key. I would encourage all moms - especially pastor's wives - to do whatever it takes to stay healthy. Seek outside help; go to counseling; be willing to be imperfect in front of the people you serve. God desires children who bring their true, authentic selves to His kingdom.

And never believe that it will never happen to you. I am amazed at how quickly I began to do, say, think and believe things that had once seemed utterly impossible. We can very, very quickly be taken by surprise.

Blessings to all~~~