Four Critical Keys to Being a Parent (or Minister)

keyThere are times when I know that my daughters are reading this blog.  There are other times that they probably aren’t.  (Do they really want to hear their dad talk more?)  Regardless, I have to admit that I often write these words thinking about their reaction.  Sometimes having them in mind seems to help me be more clear and to the point.


I want to tell you what I have been trying to give our children.  Rearing children has been a great experience but it has been a discipline.  To rear children has brought smiles, laughter, tears, and lots of other emotion.


Like so many of you who are parents, I have tried to be intentional about being a father to our two daughters.  I have also tried to be intentional about my life and role as a minister.  I find that some of the very qualities that are important to me as a father are also important to me as I serve a church.


1.  I want to be a dad who does not serve with an inflated ego.  I have never wanted our family to revolve around my wants, my preferences, my emotions, etc.  I do not want my children to think that their concerns are trivial compared to mine.


Likewise, I want to be a minister who does not serve with an inflated ego and a heightened sense of self-importance.  Nothing is sadder than a minister who communicates to the church that his ego must be constantly massaged and stroked.


2.  I want to be a dad who is becoming Christ-like.  I sincerely want to be engaged in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus.  I want my children to know that my heart’s desire is to be maturing in Jesus.  As a human being, I will fumble and be inconsistent.  Yet, I want my daily intent to be that of growing as a Christ-like man.


As a minister, I want to be Christ-like.  This is at the heart of Christian ministry as we live out of the over-flow of our relationship with him.  A minister may be weak in some skills.  This person may need to improve in this or that.  The absolute non-negotiable for Christian ministry, however, is that this must be a person who is serious about being a Christ-follower.


3.  I want to be a dad who is willing to address "what lies beneath" in my own life

  • Do my children experience my constant anger?
  • Do my children have a father who will not recognize his own insecurities?
  • Do they have a dad who just doesn’t admit it when he is wrong?
  • Do they experience distance and disconnection that is a spin-off of his own hurts and wounds from his past?

As a minister, I need to be asking some of these same questions.  What are people experiencing with me?  What is happening with me emotionally and how is that impacting others?


4.  I want to be a dad who is first a healthy, godly human being.  Being a dad is not about buying my children everything imaginable.  Being a good dad is not about seeing to it that they experience what I never got to experience.  Being a great dad is about first being a good man who has a healthy, godly way of "being."


I want to be a minister who is first a healthy, godly human being.  Too many ministers are focused on being managers, caretakers, church builders, etc.  (Yes, the work may require some of these.)  The focus, however, is not on what I need to do but who I am and how I am relating to and loving the church and community.  The following questions might be worth some reflection:

  • Do I handle my emotions in a way that reflect my own maturity or my immaturity?
  • Do I have healthy relationships with my family and church through the ups and downs of life?  Or, do I seek emotional shortcuts through pornography, or emotional/physical affairs?
  • Do I love people enough to give people room to think, love, and relate to others?  Or, do I seek to manipulate others out of my own neediness?


What are other critical keys to being a parent (or minister) besides the ones I’ve mentioned?

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8 thoughts on “Four Critical Keys to Being a Parent (or Minister)

  1. In so many words you’ve already said this, but I was very intentional about being transparent with my children and with our church family.  Who they saw on Sunday was who they saw any other day of the week.

  2. I want to be a parent who trusts that God really will take care of me and my family.  I wish I had modelled this better for my children when they were still in my home.  I think they may have seen too much worry from me re: how I was going to pay the bills when I was a single parent!

  3. Some of the best and closest times I have had with my now adult kids are when I admit I am wrong.  It is not as clear cut with church members……I have paid dearly when admitting mistakes or weaknesses to church members in the past.  Nothing big….Just fears or weaknesses…..Most are gracious and loving….Then there are those in the mix (few)  you think you can be open with and you find out you can’t after its too late….Some people are not open or honest with a pastor because they are afraid for a spiritual leader to find out who they really are….they don’t want the spiritual leader to be open with them because they want to pretend you are something you’re not….perfect that is…..
    My kids don’t demand nor prefer  perfection….Some congregants do……I thank God for the ones (most) that allow me to be human….
    And I am most thankful that God loves me and forgives me and blesses me in my weakness……

  4. Greg– Your children were blessed to not have received mixed messages from a parent who lived one way in one world and another in the church world.  

  5. Royal,I appreciate your honesty.   You are right, there are people who are looking for their spiritual leaders to be perfect people.  Part of the challenge we face is learning how to be the kind of minister we are called to be without allowing such people to shape our ministry.  Nevertheless, as you express so well, it is a very real challenge.

  6. Mr. Martin, Great post. We are going to begin a parenting class at one of our small groups in a few months. I imagine, by default, I will be teaching. I will be providing a link to your site.Thanks,