Parenting Is Ministry

February 11, 2014

Faith At Home, Nudge, Parenting

Parenting a child with special needs requires that you wear many hats:  nurse, chauffeur, advocate, cook, teacher, housekeeper, accountant, IEP expert, dietician, plumber, home decorator, pest exterminator, coach, and diplomat to name a few (and that’s just mothers’!).  I’ll bet that you could list a few more that I’ve missed.  But let me challenge you with this question:

“What purpose do you think God had in mind when he designed the role of a parent? “

Answer: ministry.

Have you ever specifically considered that, in becoming a parent, you have actually been called to ministry?  If you’re like me, your initial thoughts about being “called to ministry” is that it’s solely for those people whom God has called to seminary to be pastors! However, “called to ministry” is a term that applies to parenting.  A parent’s call to ministry, I believe, is found in the definition of the word “ministry.”  Here’s the best definition that I’ve come across:

 “Ministry is meeting people where they are at and taking them to where God wants them to be.”

At first glance, the definition seems extremely simplistic.  Nothing earth-shattering, right?  However, since I first heard that definition a few years ago I’ve yet to find a better one. But it still needs some explaining, because we need to take it and apply it to parenting.   

“Meeting people.”  Ministry is always relational.  Ministry isn’t a project.  Ministry is about people.  Outside of your relationship with God and your spouse, I can’t think of any relationship that’s more important than the one a parent has with their child.

“…where they are at…”  So many times I want people to meet me where I am at.  However, this definition focuses on meeting others where they are at.  On their terms.  In their context, not ours.  We can’t move people closer to Jesus if we aren’t first meeting, loving, listening, caring and connecting with them on their turf.

For children with special needs meeting them “where they are at” starts with acceptance.  Coming to terms with a child’s diagnosis can be one of the hardest things a parent ever has to do.  That’s the first step.  Another step involved in this definition is recognizing where your child is at cognitively.  Understanding his unique learning style and make that your starting point in helping him take the next step.

“…and taking them…” Ministry involves going with people.  Notice on my diagram above the two arrows leading to God – that’s you and your child.  Jesus always had his disciples with him wherever he went.  In ministry we don’t pat people on the back, wish them well, and send them on their way.  We journey with them.  Your child with special needs is on a journey.  A life-journey and who better to walk with him than you!  Remember:  Love journeys with.

“…to where God wants them to be.” Where does God want your child to be in 5, 10, 15-years from now?  Who does He want him/her to become?  Remember, God measures success in life differently than society.  He measures the “inside,” not the outside of someone’s life.  What does He desire more than anything else for your child?  Simple:

  • He wants to have a one-on-one, personal relationship with him/her. 

If you are not sure of anything else, be sure of this:  God created your child in His image, He loves your child unconditionally, and He wants a relationship with them.  He wants parents to be the ones who journey through life with their child and teach them the awe-inspiring wonder of who He is.

According to Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78, God has ordained parents as the ones who are responsible for their child’s spiritual development.  It’s up to you.  It’s a relatively simply concept: build your relationship with your child, start with where they are at spiritually, and walk with them towards a relationship with their Heavenly Father.   Ministry.

In what way does the concept of parenting as ministry change how you think about your role as a parent?

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Michael Woods, M.A. BCaBA

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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