Including My Family in Ministry

Eric Hunter
Campus ministry serves meal to military members in uniform

As a husband, father, and minister it is without question my family is my primary ministry calling. My wife and I are blessed with three children who are currently 22, 19, and 17. While I have always desired and prioritized my wife and children being involved in my ministry, each season has been different. The season we are currently in has been one of the most unique and challenging related to my family’s involvement in ministry. For most of our married life, my wife had part-time jobs and she ministered alongside me. She was the stereotypical minister’s wife who worked part-time plus for free. We wanted our children to minister with us teaching them how to serve others and live sacrificially. Now my wife has a full-time job and her availability is not the same. Our high school children have been busy with school, extracurricular activities, work, and hanging out with friends. Our college-age students are busy with the same sorts of things as they are becoming independent.

There are three things I have sought to do regularly and with intention related to my family’s involvement in ministry during this current season. 

The first is that their involvement is an option that is always available, but never a requirement or expectation.

When our kids were younger and my wife was not working full time, they were involved in most of the aspects of ministry because it was the rhythm of our family. As they grow older our kid’s faith has become their own. As they grow in their faith and find their own passions and interests, we offer them to be involved in the campus ministry I lead, but we do not force them to. My children and my wife know they are always welcome at anything we do, whether it is a time of worship, small group bible study, outreach, or just a fun event. I would love for them to be at everything, but I also realize it is just not possible and many times they don’t want to be, and that’s ok. Our middle child is currently in college and this semester is a participant in my campus ministry. I have loved every minute of it. I love seeing him grow in his faith as a college student and my son; it’s the best! When he is at our events I try to treat him just like any of the other college students. I want to give him his space and for people to know him as an individual rather than my son. Recently he went on a mission trip with our BSM. I gave him his space, treated him like one of the group, and of course stole moments as a dad to see how he was doing. It was so special having him there and seeing God work in and through him. It is not an expectation that I place on him as his dad though, it is his decision to be involved. 

Secondly, as our kids have entered adulthood, we are very careful concerning the ministry conversations we have in their presence.

We should always do this, but I feel it is even more important during this season. We do not want to gossip or be overly critical concerning ministry and the people involved in their presence. 

The third thing is the most important and probably the hardest. I strive to be the same person at work and home.

I want to be the same man at an event with college students as I am on Saturday doing chores with my wife and kids. If I am fun, energetic, and always talking about Christ at work but am grumpy and never speak of God at home what message does that send to my family as they witness both? If there is a disconnect between who I am when I minister and who I am at home it can have disastrous consequences on my marriage, my children’s faith, and for our relationship. My wife and teenage/young adult-children deserve the very best I have to offer, not the exhausted grumpy leftovers after a full day or week of leading and ministering.

Eric Hunter is the Campus Minister at West Texas A&M. You can follow the ministry on Instagram @wtamu_bsm. 

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