Wow, being on a panel is exhausting. I've given some talks on this topic before but on a panel it is hard because you can't prepare before so you are madly thinking the whole time of a response that is useful, relevant and makes sense, all on your feet. We had questions being texted through during the session plus questions and comments from the floor.
I suspect that some of the stories we shared about the mad visitors to our front doors may have freaked some people out. But we worked hard to convey the great privilege that it is to grow up in a ministry family.
I did feel a bit stressed afterwards that me admitting publicly to such an audience that I had never wanted to marry a minister may have been seen in the wrong way! I just don't have a great personality for being a public person. Yet here I am. I suspect that many of those childhood experiences have in fact given me a good grounding for coping with the realities of a ministry life.
I had some interesting discussions afterwards. One of the comments was that it sounded like we were advocating putting being a mum above ministry - well, yes, I guess we probably were. One of the main reasons kids resent their parents being in ministry is that they feel like they have to compete with God and his people for their parent's attention. Kids need to know that you are advocating for them, that you are on their side, that you have time for them. Even if the work of the Lord is pressing and urgent. God is big - he can probably manage to work it out.
Are we pampering to our children if we put ministry to one side to meet their needs? No way! Should we be worried that our kids might think that serving Jesus doesn't really matter if we say no to a ministry need to be available for them? Nup. Our kids have a dad who works for the church, they live in a church house, they spend half their life at church events or with people from church in their house. My guess is that they sooo get it.
Someone very wise said on the weekend 'only you can be Mum to your kids'. What that looks like from stage to stage and from child to child will need to be constantly reevaluated. Interestingly, I actually found it easier to be involved in a lot of different church ministry when the kids were younger. They went to bed earlier, I could chat to people while they played. But now the children's lives are busier, I need room in my life to have the emotional energy to listen well to them, they're up later and plus they love to hear what I'm chatting to people about. Not so easy to have those long D&M's with the big ears listening in!
Anyway - I survived the panel, had a great weekend and have lots of thoughts for future blog posts that I can share with you.