Today, we’re continuing the blog series on five mistakes I made as a father, while doing my best to succeed as a pastor. Some of these mistakes won’t be exactly relevant to everyone, but my prayer is that the principles shared will help you as a parent.
Trisha and I left vocational ministry in 2005. We had spent the previous 10 years working at churches. It was my job to go to church. Going to church was not an option, it was required. We were there pretty much every time the doors were open. I remember the first Sunday after leaving ministry that we decided to skip church. We woke up late, I fixed a big breakfast, made a pot of coffee and we sat around in our pajamas. A few minutes after eating breakfast one of the boys asked why we weren’t getting ready for church. I casually said that we were skipping church and just hanging out at the house. Our boys looked panicked. Skip church? How could we skip church? Would we get into heaven if we skipped church? They were totally thrown. This story leads me to mistake number two:
2. I made my kids go to every church function and activity.
If I am honest, and I think if most pastors are honest (truly honesty) we make our kids attend everything at church not because we are solely concerned with their spiritual development, as much as we are concerned with how church people perceive us and our family.
I am not suggesting that church attendance isn’t important. I think it is very important. I think a mistake we can make as parents and a mistake we can make as Christians is equating church attendance with spiritual growth. One doesn’t equal the other.
A few weeks ago, one of my boys had a ton of homework. He was stressed out about a test the next day and asked if he could stay home from youth group to get it done. It was a no brainer for me to say yes. Tonight, one of my boys has asked to go to a different campus for youth group to see one of his friends play drums. If I am concerned about how other perceive me, I say no to that request. If I am only concerned with his spiritual growth, I am happy he is asking to go to church in the first place.
Are you equating religious activity in your life or in your kids’ life with spiritual growth? It is an easy mistake to make. Our kids need us to focus not on information and attendance but transformation and life-change.