Leading Your Family Through Big Decisions

Recently, Derek Bareman, Senior Executive Leader at Church of the City in Franklin, Tennessee joined Jonathan Pitts on the Decisions podcast to dive into a few big decisions he faced, and how he led his family through the process in a healthy way. We hope his insight encourages you to lead well through all of life’s transitions.

As a ministry leader, big decisions are sure to come. And as you know, your decisions not only affect you, but they affect your entire family. As you sense God’s leading in your work and ministry, how you walk your family through that process matters.

Here are three things to keep in mind as a spouse and/or parent when making a big decision…

1.  Be all in it… together!

When it comes to big decisions, make them together. That way, if and when things get tough, no one is blamed. Ask God to keep your marriage unified and stay in it, good and bad, together.

In Philippians 2, Paul urges us to be like-minded. Ask God to give your family like-mindedness in your big decisions. If someone is unsure, take time to pray and process the decision together. Choose a passage from God’s Word as an anchor point for your family and stay grounded on that. When things gets hard, go right back to that anchor and remember what God has said.

2. Model a love for the local church

In church and ministry, most everyone will experience both good and not-so-good leadership. How can you maintain a love for the church when the person you are called to follow is a poor leader? Your family is watching.

For one, be careful not to wear rose-colored glasses when joining a new staff. There’s much more to it than what you see on a Sunday morning visit! When you join a staff, it’s not long before you begin to see the inner workings, and that’s not all bad. But things often surface that cause you to question people’s motives or choices.

In those times, ask God to give you a joy and a true love for your local church. See it for what it could be. Find ways to make a positive impact and lead by example. Resist the temptation to give in to the gossip and complaining that often creates a toxic environment. Instead, be part of the solution.

Then, encourage your family to think of your local church as a bride. Some days, she looks beautiful standing there in her wedding gown. Other days, just as any bride, she may get sick or not look her best. She may be in pain, or she may be angry. But just like in any marriage, you maintain a love for your spouse regardless of their bad days. And that’s how it should be with your local church.

3. Choose the right language

As a pastor or ministry leader with a young family, the way you frame your work and the language you use is crucial. If you are speaking at an event, have your spouse say something like, “We are sending Dad out to this ministry event, so we are a part of this!”

Or you might say, “We get to send Mom out to minister to people and she is going on behalf of all of us!”

You’re in it together and you are communicating that to your kids. Whoever goes out is a representative of the entire family. It’s a mindset, and it’s a healthy one. Of course, maintain boundaries and balance when it comes to being home and having family time, but overall, whatever someone is doing, make sure everyone feels a part of it.

And this goes for your kids, too! If one of your kids is going on a trip or to a camp, remind them that they are going out as a representative of your family. Kingdom language means communicating that you are a family on mission.

As the church, our calling is to make disciples. And that means investing in people. Whether it’s in the midst of a big important decision, or an ordinary day, surely it starts in our homes.

For more insight into leading your family well in the midst of big ministry decisions, listen to the Decisions podcast episode, The Importance of One Decision.

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