If I asked you to create two categories, “personal” and “ministry”, and asked you to put every aspect of your life under one of them, where would you put “family” or “raising kids?” Most of us would say “personal,” and while we wouldn’t be wrong, necessarily, that’s probably the least accurate category of the two.
While God acknowledges in Scripture that having and raising children is a blessing, almost everywhere children are mentioned, like in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, there’s a “so that” attached. Raising children is not described as an activity for its own sake, that makes us feel better about ourselves, or that gives our lives meaning, value and worth. We have all of those things in Christ alone, and nothing else does, or can give them to us. Ultimately, raising kids is ministry. It’s glorifying and worshipping God by growing and preparing young hearts and minds to love the Lord, to serve Him well, to worship Him in their work, relationships, and play, in whatever calling He has for them.
A female friend of mine bemoans the lost concept of “republican motherhood”- the 19th century ideal that a woman’s greatest calling is to raise great children, inculcating in them the values necessary to build and sustain a strong American republic. She says that, while it’s a good thing for girls to have broader opportunities, there is a dignity and nobility in raising strong children that has been lost with that ideal. I think there’s a lot of truth to that, but I would extend it to both men and women, and to training kids up not just to be good citizens of the republic, but of the Kingdom of Heaven. Regardless of whatever other ministry God has in store for my life none will ever have the impact that I have in my home right now. After all, not only will our kids share the gospel, serve in ministry, marry believing spouses and raise their own great kids when they’re grown, Lord willing, but they have an impact right now. They can be the godly, encouraging voice that their hurting friends need to hear; the edifying hand that turns others away from anger or stupidity; or, the writer or artist or painter or dancer who creates great works that worship God and cause others to marvel at the glorious God that has gifted someone so young to create that beauty.
Just now I walked out of a school chapel service where a choir from the Ugandan ministry PCM was performing. Dr. Barret, the PCM sponsor, asked GCS students to stand if they had been a part of a recent talent show, the proceeds of which purchased uniforms for Ugandan students; or, if they had been on a mission trip to Uganda; or, if their families were sponsoring a child through PCM; or, if they had been involved in the recent shoe drive to provide shoes for students in this African school. By the end, nearly every high school student in our auditorium was standing! And, that’s only one ministry, one opportunity to impact the Kingdom. This pervasive Kingdom impact underscored for me the power of raising our kids as a ministry.
That’s why parents’ commitment to a school like Grace matters. This school is not first and foremost a service provider. It’s not primarily a place where you pay a fee, send your kids, get them equipped, and get them back ready to go. It’s not that, any more than a church is primarily a place where you pay to hear a sermon that makes you feel good. This school is a community; it is a ministry center. It is a place where people who see raising kids as their most important, impactful ministry come together to teach and learn and love and grow their kids in community. Not as some “holy huddle,” a fortress or enclave—I didn’t see any kids disengaged from the gospel or the world in my auditorium today– but as a dry dock launching some of the most gospel-centric, impactful young people of their generation. This community needs you, needs parents committed to parenting as ministry, to accomplish this great work, to do much more than any of us could ever do alone. And, it’s the greatest, noblest, most rewarding, most dignified, and most holy work you will ever do.