Monday 13 July 2015

Home Education in a Minister's Family

Today, I have another guest post in the series about Home Educating in different circumstances. The first post was about When both parents share home education. There are posts coming up about
  • educating while caring for an older relative
  • educating with a larger than average size family
  • educating a child with special needs.

This Monday's post is from Lizzy at The Peaches at Home who is talking about Home Educating in a Minister's Family.

The doorbell rings, and my eldest bounds up to answer the door. I'm already in slight panic mode as I realise that someone has turned up early for a Bible study my husband is leading, and the room he needs to use is covered with a careful arrangement of small plastic animals. I welcome in the Bible study member, who is well used to our busy household and helps to pick up animals. I call my husband, put on the kettle and try to chivvy away children who are clutching their toys and now a little over excited.
A ministry home is usually busy, with various meetings and Bible studies taking place. A home educating household is also usually pretty hectic. A combination of the two can be lively at times!
There are unique characteristics of ministry family life. The home is also your husband's workplace, but it is more than just a home with an office. We have church family round for meals, for Bible studies, prayer meetings and for other social events. Moreover, these will often involve not just my husband, but the whole family.
Usually a minister will work six days a week, and will not necessarily have Saturday as a day off (though my husband usually does). In addition, ministry often takes place in the evening. Family life, by necessity, has to adapt.
Home educating is also, obviously, a significant decision for a family. Children, and their endless books, workbooks, art projects and Lego creations all take up space in the house. Teaching, preparation, planning, and just having children around all day, every day, take up a lot of time.
The boundaries between family and work and church are blurred (this is a good thing!), which has significant implications for how we live our lives. There are many, many blessings, which we are grateful to God for. There are also different pressures on our family, which we need to be mindful of.
So, here are 8 advantages and 5 more difficult things about combining home education and church ministry:
8 Best Things:
  1. My husband is around. Yes, he works hard and we try not to bother him when he is in his study, but he is there for serious problems - a catastrophic nose bleed, a discipline issue, or, once, when I realised that I didn't have a clue how a car engine worked (my eldest did a pretty good job explaining, though!).

  1. We are there when he needs us! In our previous church, he regularly did assemblies as the local school. He would often practise them on our children first. Occasionally I have helped with Greek translations, but not often!

  1. My husband and my children are at home, so we get to eat meals together 3 times a day.

  1. Flexibility. If we want to plan a family trip to the zoo, my husband will swap his day off, usually to a Friday, so we can go during the week. Conversely, if my husband needs to work on a Saturday, we can still have a family time together at another point.

  1. Medical appointments. If we arrange it carefully, then my husband can look after the children while I go to necessary hospital appointments etc. - something much harder as a home educating mother if he didn't have the freedom to plan his own time.

  1. Our children get to know lots of different people at church when they come to our house. In particular, they have often got to know some of the older members of the congregation, both here and at our previous church.

  1. Housing. This isn't true for all pastors, but we are blessed to live in the church manse. Even though we live in London, we have a large home with room for a "learning room" in addition to another reception room. We even have a decent sized garden.

  1. Our children don't see church and the church family as something for Sunday only, they see various members of the church coming to pray, to read the Bible and to spend time together throughout the week.

5 Harder Things:
  1. My own ministry in the church is limited as I have far less time available. Even when my children were younger I had more time, but now teaching the children means that week day ministry, such as 1-to-1 Bible studies, is generally not possible for me.

  1. Housework. Our home is used A LOT! I have to be very organised, and to work hard, in order to keep our home ready for use and to keep me sane (I like tidy- not spotless, but tidy!).

  1. It can feel as though our family is more visible than others (though this probably isn't as bad as it feels). In addition to the fear that everyone thinks that the Minister's wife is rubbish at sorting out her children, there is the fear that this is going to be attributed to the fact that we home educate!

  1. Sometimes it is hard to relax. Our church family are still our church family on a "day off". Our children are there all the time. We can find it hard to switch off from thinking about both our church and our children, mainly because of our concern for them.

  1. Time with my husband- JUST my husband- so we can talk is harder to find. Children are there all day, and we often have church events in the evening.

And finally, if you are a home educator and your husband is a Pastor, here are…
10 Top Tips:
  1. Love Jesus. Don’t give up prayer and reading your Bible. Meet with other believers and encourage and be encouraged. Keep in touch with friends who will spur you on in your faith.

  1. Love your family. Don’t resent your husband or your children, but serve them and care for them. Make time to see your husband so you can talk properly. Spend time listening to your children as well as getting them through their work or their chores.

  1. Love your church family. Don’t resent them either! Pray for them and serve them. Welcome them into your home.

  1. Remember that your children are your ministry. You have years and years to disciple them. You know them better than anyone else. Bringing up your children, teaching them the Bible and giving them a God-centred education is your ministry, and a hugely valuable one.

  1. Choose how to serve the church family wisely. You can't do everything. Remember that it is service Рit is about building others up, not for your personal fulfilment. You may miss leading Bible studies, but perhaps now you are called to helping out with the cr̬che.

  1. “Pseudo-rest”. When you are exhausted, preparing Sunday school or marking Latin in your pyjamas may be the nearest thing you get to an early night- and it does sort-of work (but isn’t a good long term strategy!).

  1. Talk to your husband about what’s happening in the house. You need to know if there is an elders’ meeting in the front room. From experience, it is also best if your husband discovers that you have invited nineteen children and their mums around before they arrive so that he can arrange to be out!
  1. Thank God for the blessings of this way of life. Try to avoid the traps of envy or complaining. Most people are busy (and it’s not a competition). Everyone finds life difficult at times, even if their children are at school or their husbands work more conventional hours. Some of them would love the good things that we enjoy!

  1. Celebrate the Lord’s Day. Sundays may seem busy or pressured, but be positive to your children about the joy of meeting with God’s people to hear God’s Word taught, to pray and to encourage each other. Make it fun; a special breakfast as a family, or ice cream for pudding after Sunday lunch are simple ways to mark it as a special day.

  1. Don’t give up! Some days will be awful. I have wept with my husband many times- over our children, over our church, out of exhaustion or out of sin. God is good. His Word is true. He gives us all we need (though not what we want, or what we think we need) to get up and serve him each day.

I’m Lizzy, married to Michael, who has been the Pastor at Honor Oak Christian Fellowship Centre for 18 months.
Before that we spent 4 years in East Grinstead, where Michael was an Assistant Minister at an evangelical Anglican church. We have 4 children, currently 9, 8, 6 and 3, who are home educated. I blog about our lives as a home educating Christian family at The Peaches at Home.

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  1. Thanks - I find the lists of good things and harder things helpful. There is a really good sense of balance - yes, it is exhausting and hard work, but that it is extremely worthwhile

    1. I liked the lists too. Thank you for mentioning this on your blog.