I was one year out of college, and my first full-time ministry was a disaster. I wanted to stay in the preaching ministry, so I contacted the local colleges for a list of Churches that were searching for a candidate. They mailed me a list and each job description contained a list of requirements. As a young minister, I was disappointed to see that many of them wanted 5-10 years of experience. I also noticed that several Churches stated that “children are preferred.” As a newly married inexperienced Church leader, I thought it was unfair and shortsighted on behalf of these Churches. Twenty-two years and four children later I still think it was shortsighted of behalf of those Churches, but I better understand where they came up with these requirements. Time has a way of changing people. Also, children have a way of changing their parents.
Here are a few ways having children has changed me for God and ministry.
1. Children can make you less selfish. My time and my money are not really mine. Most of those two things go to taking care of my children. As a parent, you get used to not living every minute for yourself.
2. Children can make you more grace-filled. I have watched my children make mistakes and suffer through difficult choices. I have stood on the side of the one getting hurt along with the one who did the hurting. I am becoming softer and more gracious to everyone in life no matter what happened. Supporting my children has made many things less black and white.
3. Children can grow your patience. Every parent knows exactly what I mean. There have been times I wanted to explode on my kids, but I knew that it would be a devastating blow to their little minds. Instead, I held back my anger and waiting to see what would happen. I have learned that holding onto my emotions is sometimes the best way to handle delicate situations.
4. Children can teach you to be more thankful. There are two sides to this. First, I thank God every day for allowing me to parent these wonderful young men. Second, I have watched them be thankful for so many things, and it inspires me. Sure, it started small with a toy at Christmas and has grown into a car, but I love what it means when my children are thankful. I know how much I enjoy hearing words of thanksgiving and I know it must mean as much to everyone else, including God.
5. Children can teach you to be more giving. With the holidays approaching I know that I want to give my children the world. I want to give them everything they ever wanted. Honestly, it is easy to spend money I do not have to give them what they want. It is amazing how much you can live without and how much you can give away when you want to do it.
Obviously, none of these changes are guaranteed. That is why I added the word “can” to each one of these possibilities. We all know of one parent or two who have not grown up despite their children. I think if you are striving to be a good parent that over time you will be transformed into a better person and maybe a better Christian.