The Tension of Family and Ministry
Life is full of difficult choices for sure. We all face tension on a daily basis – whether large or small. I face that tension on a daily basis in two main areas… family and ministry. You would think the two would fit seamlessly together. After all family is a ministry and ministry most certainly creates a family. But more often than not, it can feel like these are both at odds with each other. They both can compete for the most valuable commodity any of us possess – our time.
I found myself at a crossroads when we found out Cole’s surgery was going to need to be decided on a performed quickly. They really gave us a short window and as you know we are in that window. But that window happened to fall at the busiest time for anyone in student ministry… Summer. It’s a time we absolutely love… filled with the gift of unhurried time as students are out of school. Retreats, excursions, camps, mission trips, weekly programming, hang out time – the list could go on and on.
For me, not only do I have all of the responsibilities that student ministry brings at Wildwood. But I’m also the executive director of a network of PCA student ministries called Southland. Where I direct a middle school camp for 500 students and 350 high school students from across the Southeast. These camps are two massive endeavors where literally a year’s worth of planning comes to fruition in a matter of days. Stressful, hectic – yes, but awesome and spiritually powerful – absolutely.
Let me pause and simply say how grateful I am to my Wildwood Student Ministry Leadership Team and my Southland Lead Team. Both teams immediately said “go, we’ve got this” upon learning about the journey we were to embark upon with Cole. There wasn’t a bit of hesitation on their part but on mine… well, let’s just say tension doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive enough word.
There was no doubt in my mind that family was and always will be my number one priority. If I can’t love, serve and minister to them well, then I shouldn’t even be allowed to minister to anyone else. And I can’t speak highly enough of my wife and her selfless and sacrificial heart when it comes to my ministry. She is the glue that holds our family together in the times that ministry calls me away. Her ability to love and care for our family so that I can do what God has called me to do always amazes me. I am eternally grateful that God gave me such a wonderful match.
But the tension remained. My mind was spinning with how could I effectively love and serve my family during this time and not let my teams down. Would it be possible to face this tension of family and ministry and come out victorious?
We decided to take it one day at a time. I stepped away from Brooke, Cole and Trent last week – with Brock and Jake in tow and headed off to high school camp. I’m here in the mountains of Tennessee with no cell phone coverage and limited WiFi. I can tell you it feels like my head is here to act as the director of camp, but my heart is back in Birmingham with my family.
I call for daily updates. Cole is continuing to progress. We have stepped him off pain medication. He’s moving himself around in his wheelchair. He’s resting a little better at night and continues to be pretty content. God has been so faithful to him during this recovery time. The days and nights are still long for Brooke and her parents, but God is good. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for them allowing me to try to fulfill my duties here at camp – to love and serve our students at Wildwood and all these other high school students that have gathered.
The tension is real and difficult on my heart for sure. I’m not sure I will ever find a “solution” but I’m grateful that God meets me in this tension and walks with me. I’m thankful to each of you who have continued to pray for me and our camp and also our family. We continue to feel very well loved and supported on this journey.