Archive for the 'Family' Category
Today, RonnieFloyd.com welcomes guest writer, Jackie Harmon. Jackie is a mom to two boys, Alex and Miles, and a Cross Church Ministry Staff wife. Jackie and her husband Keith minister to young adults at our Springdale campus. You can learn more about Jackie on her blog.
“I’m tired of caring for Miles.”
I actually spoke those words out loud to our Small Group. Keith and I have the privilege of teaching a group of Young Married couples every Sunday morning and we knew God wanted us to share with them what was going on in our lives – and I didn’t want to. Sharing our life and struggles with them is usually easy for us, but we are tired and our lives feel extra messy. I don’t mind sharing my messy life with people, but I prefer to do it after God works. After God restores. After God redeems. But God was asking us to share our hearts in the midst of being weary and that just felt like a big ask.
These two words have been running through my head all month. We just celebrated Miles’ 8th birthday and his birthdays always throw me into a funk. I celebrate knowing someone is remembering. I celebrate a physical age, but developmentally, emotionally, and mentally, we are nowhere near that number. And it’s just hard. Every year that goes by, I find myself grieving where I thought we’d be. I read posts from years past and realize we haven’t come as far as I thought we had or hoped we would. But this year, it seemed heavier. I couldn’t help but wonder if I can do this for eight more years? And then eight more? And eight more after that?
Keith spoke those words to me as I stood in the ocean washing sand off of me. I had just finished playing in the sand with our friends’ children and I told Keith I forgot how fun it is to play with kids that can play back. Playing with Miles is work. Keeping Miles safe is work. Keeping others safe from Miles is work. And because he has no self-care skills and is not potty trained, caring for his physical needs is a lot of work. The role of caregiver can be exhausting. And lonely.
“Let us not grow weary of doing good…”
God has been speaking these words over me the last month. He has been whispering them to my heart because He knows I am tired. And weary. He has been reminding me that “…in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” But that is so hard when you are walking through something that could last the rest of your life on this earth.
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh…”
God is using this verse found in Galatians 5 to bring clarity to my weariness. When I say I am tired of caring for Miles, what I actually mean is I am tired of what caring for Miles requires of me. It requires a daily dying to self. A daily crucifying of flesh. A daily decision to lay my life down so Jesus can shine. Crucifixion was a slow and painful way to die. So when we are told to be crucified with Christ, when we are told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, we need to be prepared for that death to be slow and painful.
“I never want to be the me before Miles.”
Those words are just as true today as the day I first spoke them. Caring for Miles is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it is the greatest privilege of my life. Nothing has ever challenged me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and Eternity more than the gift of Miles who has the gift of Autism.
“So, how are you doing?”
I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee and ask you that question. I wonder today what has you feeling tired and weary? What has you feeling defeated? What “gift” has God given you that feels too big and too heavy? Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t lose heart. Keep your eyes and heart fixed on Jesus.
“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Eternal, the Everlasting God, the Creator of the whole world never gets weary or tired. His wisdom is beyond understanding. God strengthens the weary. Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Lord will regain their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles. They will run – never winded, never weary. They will walk – never tired, never faint.”
One of the greatest legacies of any pastor is for his children to grow up loving God and loving the Church passionately.
Yet, this is often not the story of the children of a pastor. Why? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question.
A Brief Testimony
Through the years, hundreds of people have asked how they could pray for our family. Jeana and I were very clear through the years our boys were living at home with us: Pray for Josh and Nick to love God and love the Church passionately.
By grace alone, both Josh and Nick, now in their thirties, love God and love the church passionately. Josh is located in metropolitan Birmingham, Alabama, serving as the Head Football Coach of the Hewitt Trussville Huskies. He and his wife Kate love God and love the church passionately.
Nick is the leader of our Cross Church staff team and serves as Teaching Pastor of not just our Fayetteville campuses, but across the ministry. He and his wife Meredith love God and love the Church passionately.
Now, both Josh and Kate and Nick and Meredith have the privilege of raising their children to live as they did and still do today: Loving God and loving the Church passionately.
4 Things to Consider in Relationship to Your Children
Again, there is no easy answer to how your children grow up and love God and His Church passionately. Yet, perhaps these four things may be worth consideration.
1. Engage Other People to Pray for Your Children
As a pastor, please do not think you are over-spiritualizing the extraordinary challenge of raising your children. Pastors need to request of their church publicly and when asked privately, “Please pray for my children to grow up loving God and loving the Church passionately.”
Pastor, you are continually called upon to pray for other people. There is nothing wrong with requesting that others pray for your children from the time they are toddlers all the way through their collegiate years. This is not a sign of weakness, but personal humility and deep faith in God.
2. Teach Your Children to Walk with God
Pastors spend much time teaching people God’s Word and how to walk in His power through life. If we can do this for our church members, we should do this for our own children.
Yes, from the youngest to the oldest of your children, while living with you, teach them what it means to walk with God. Show them how to do it. We cannot expect them to walk or live in a way we have never shown them personally.
3. Give God a Chance
Many pastors feel they do not need to encourage their children to be involved in church ministries and activities, thinking they will be perceived as forcing them. I respectfully disagree.
My boys grew up always going to church. Yes, unashamedly, Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, children’s activities and ministries, and student activities and ministries. We started with church, not sports, personal preferences, or peer influence. Our boys were never bitter or resentful. They were afforded life-changing experiences at student camps and retreats, on mission trips, choir trips, and multiple other experiences. Powerful relationships were formed and they are connected forever to their former student pastors.
Pastor, give God a chance with your kids. They need to be in spiritual environments as children and teenagers to have God do a work in their life.
4. Walk by Faith, Trusting God
As parents, pastors need to teach their children to walk with God and continually place them in environments where God has a powerful chance with their kids. Then while asking people to pray for them, walk by faith, trusting God for their future with Him and His Church.
Your child may take a periodic tour away from God, but God is able to pull them back to Himself. His Word never returns void and the prayers of His people have lasting influence with Him.
Therefore, what we can do as parents, whether we are pastors or not, is to walk by faith, trusting God.
In the meantime, love your children unconditionally and call out to God on their behalf in prayer daily, periodically even coupling those prayers with fasting.
Our God is able! Trust Him by faith!
Now is the Time to Lead,
Ronnie W. Floyd