Children Don’t Interrupt Our Purpose; They Embody It

photo 2-1croppedA few months ago I was preaching and something outside of the ordinary occurred. My wife and daughter were traveling so it was just our eight year old son and I at church. He got up in the middle of the sermon and walked up to the front. I was surprised to see him, but not at all upset with his interruption.

“Hey, are you OK?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied, “I just want to give you a hug.”

Of course I hugged him and asked him, “do you want to stay up here or go sit back down?”

“I’ll go sit back down,” he concluded.

That was it. Simple and sweet and child like. As I reflected on this interaction, I was thankful that the place we go to church is an environment where it wasn’t weird even through it was abnormal. As everyone was watching, a pause to interact with my son was natural. I hope and believe he felt no sense of shame or guilt for the interruption and saw me first and foremost as his dad.

I don’t want my kids to think ministry is more important than them because they are my most important ministry. I do this for a living now, but no vocation takes the place of our primary calling as disciple makers to our children. The practical details of how to walk that out are not always easy or obvious, so the heart of intention better be.

Someone shared with Julie that interruption for a hug was a picture of how God receives us. I like that and am thankful for the ministry that apparently occurred from this simple act. I didn’t, however, intend to minister to others as I received my son. I simply received him because I love him. He was my first priority in that moment, even though it took me by surprise that he had a need or a want in that particular moment.

We aren’t always going to get it right with parenting. There are demands and variables that challenge our desires regarding our children. Many of us have times and areas of parenting which leave us feeling inadequate. I know that I do.

I pray today that the spontaneous reaction of that day be a picture of meeting my kids in the moment every day. I pray that I always stop to make them first over any others that also may need ministry. I pray they always know that they are my ministry, no matter what demands my vocation may present.

5 thoughts on “Children Don’t Interrupt Our Purpose; They Embody It

  1. I remember one church service a few years ago when my 2 year old little girl escaped our seats and ran up to the front to hug the pastor during his sermon. He never stopped, just picked her up, held her and kept right on preaching. As it should be. I mean, what kind of person turns down cute little 2-year-old girl snuggles 🙂

  2. Before we left Heritage, you stated from the pulpit that “children can be a distraction from your calling.”

    Good to see that God has changed your heart on the matter, and through a child, nonetheless.

  3. I can say with confidence that my heart is for fathering as a primary and foundational role. I have been teaching and trying to live that for years so anything that seemed to contradict it would have been either said or received in error. I am sorry if I have said something that caused anyone to believe children were secondary to purpose.

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