It used to frustrate me when parents would say to me, "Oh just wait until you're a parent." I felt as though they were discounting all of my abilities as a leader
It used to frustrate me when parents would say to me, "Oh just wait until you're a parent." I felt as though they were discounting all of my abilities as a leader. My pride took a hit. Realistically, I could do nothing about the fact that I was not, at the time, a parent.
In hindsight, I know that many of these comments really were true and had value. Having kids does change your perspective, as does any life altering experience. As you parent as well as Family Ministry Pastor, you become a different leader. Here are some things I wish I had known:
1. Find ways to partner with parents rather than trying to prove your abilities. I wasted a lot of time trying to prove myself as a leader. I was confident in my gifts, abilities, and calling but really felt the need to prove that I did have knowledge even though I wasn't a parent. Instead, I wish I had spent time trying to find ways to allow myself to be vulnerable and seek a partnership with parents. Make sure that you have involved parents in leadership roles as you make decisions. You need to hear what they have to say.
2. Read parenting books. It's always helpful to read about what you don't know. Parenting isn't all book knowledge, we know that. When you hear a parent struggling with an issue that you just read about it would be great if you could refer them to that resource. This shows parents that you're trying to learn about which you may not already know.
3. Engage in conversations with parents: Perhaps one of the best things you can do is find out what concerns parents most. What are their struggles? What sorts of resources could you provide them to show them that you care about them as parents?
4. Admit that you don't know it all. Be vulnerable and admit openly that you don't know all about parenting. That's ok. Each of us lacks knowledge in areas in which we cannot relate. I don't know what it's like to be a male in ministry. It's ok to admit that, yes because you are not yet a parent, there are things you don't know about parenting. Equip parents with newsletters regarding parenting pieces you've read or blast a text message to your parents with some pertinent parenting info. Always cite your source, of course.
5. Assume the best. In ministry and life people tend to point out the things that separate us. Don't give in to negative thought patterns that will undermine your ability as a leader. Lead as the Lord leads you. Make yourself a servant to anyone who questions your skills and abilities. Think like Jesus did when His credibility was brought into question.
The truth of the matter is that if it's not this subject, it will be another. If you have children, you can't understand what it's like to have five children. If you have boys, you'll never understand what it's like to have girls, etc.
How about you? Did you ever feel that you had to work to prove yourself because you didn't have your own children? Is this you now? What have you done/what do you do now to make the most of this season in life and ministry?