Ministry and Family Webinar
Brother Mark and Sister Bev Bahr from Livonia church. And Mark and Bev, if you could just start us tonight as we get into the topic of ministry and family. Maybe just give us a quick overview of your interaction between ministry and family. When did you become a minister? What were the ages of your kids at that point?
When did you to become an elder? Just a real quick 30 second overview I think would be helpful for all of us to understand. Surely, Bev and I have been married 46 and a half years. She’ll tell you in a moment how many months. And we have three married daughters. They’re aged 45, 43, and 37. We have 12 grandchildren and I have been in the ministry 42 years. And I was elder for 25 years. I’ve just recently in October, retired as elder and minister in our Detroit Livonia congregation, and Lord willing, when the borders open up for Canada and Japan, the long term plan there has been targeted on my transition into retirement there in the spring of 2021. So we’ll see how the Lord guides all of that.
He was 26 when he was put in the ministry, and at the time we had a two year old and a six month old daughter. And another daughter came later. So, your children have grown up with you in the ministry. Really appreciate that. Very much so. So the topic tonight that we’re gonna focus on is ministry and family.
And it’s a topic that we get frequent requests for. A lot of questions arise around this idea of balance and family. And, there’s a verse that came to mind as we were thinking about this or preparing for this, and it’s found at the end of Colossians. And it’s speaking just real quickly at the end, to Archippus, I think is the name of the brother that it’s speaking to.
And he maybe was the overseer of that church is at least what tradition would say. And it says this very simply. It says, Take heed to the ministry, which thou has received of the Lord that thou fulfill it. And it doesn’t speak directly to ministry and family, but it does speak directly to this idea of intentionality.
Intentionality on a couple of levels, intentionality to realize that ministry, it is from the Lord and there is an opportunity with it. But then intentionality to also realize and think about the impact that ministry has on our lives and on those around us. And so, as I said, this topic has come up quite a bit.
That question is always there of how do we balance and consider family and ministry and the wrestling between the two or the tension between the two. And hopefully tonight, hopefully we provide some insight or some examples or some lessons learned from experience, but hopefully at least too, we provide the opportunity to raise the conversation and be intentional in taking heed to this conversation that needs to happen in our lives. So as Matt and I walk through this, really three main themes came up that we’re gonna center our discussion and our conversation around tonight with brother Mark and Sister Bev. And, Matt, I’ll let you take over and walk through these different areas of impact.
Sure. It’s a pleasure being on. Thanks for each one that’s on. Brother Mark, Sister Bev, it’s an honor to be on the call with you and look forward to all that you can share. Three areas of impact. Our kids are impacted in lots of ways, but we’re gonna narrow our scope maybe tonight to these three areas of impact. Then the objective will be to step through each of those.
We have this icon in the center of the screen there of this little girl. And, it really fits well with your family as you had three little girls. And so you can imagine each of your little girls looking at you, Mark and Bev. And all of us as we consider our own kids, our own grandkids, we have these little ones who are impacted in these three, I think, unique and important ways. And I might even say these areas of impact are especially unique as it relates to church and ministry.
And hopefully that will come out. So our objectives are simply this. Our objectives is to look at the impact that identity has ministry identity has on our families the impact that our private and public life of ministry has on our families, and then the impact of the exposure of blessing, burdens, and challenges of ministry has on our family.
So we’re gonna look at the impact of all three of those things. And then finally, how best do we live in light of these impacts and how do we steward that with our children? What we’re gonna do is we’re gonna take each one separately and we’ll unpack what we mean by it, so there’s clarity on that.
And then, Mark and Bev, we’re gonna open the floor up for some discussion. We’ll have a few questions on a slide that we would love for you to address, and we’ll just have a conversation about that. But let’s first start with identity. That’s the first one. So we’re gonna look at identity. Our children see and are affected by what is important to us.
Identity circles very nearly to things of importance. Those things that are important to us are identifiers for us. In fact, we can’t escape it. You might say the more important it is, the more identifying it is upon us. And so just to set the stage here, what do we mean by identity?
It’s a sense of self. It answers the question, who am I? There’s lots of identities. I’m a father, I’m a husband. Those things are very important. They are identifiers. Maybe I am a teacher. I am also a minister and we all have ministry as part of that identifier that we have.
It’s important. So that’s what we mean here about identifier and it largely influences the way I think, I feel, and behave. We behave according to these important prints in our life. And so ministry certainly is a large influence, and so it’s going to affect the way we think, we feel, we behave according to the identities.
And we do that according to all of our identities. And ministry is no different than that. And so, ministry is an identifier not only for us, but it is also of our children. And that’s the unique overlap that we really want to address here tonight. That little girl there in the schematic, there in the screen, she is impacted by the identity.
In fact, we joke with the acronym PK Kid, right? Everybody knows it. Everybody gets what a pk is. Preacher’s kid. That in and of itself is evidence that there is something to identity that my children have by default. They didn’t select it, but they’ve got it. And so we wanna talk a little bit here in this next few minutes about identity.
I would love to hear your thoughts on that and let’s go now to that discussion slide. To really look at these and we can address these questions in any order, Mark and Bev. But I would love to hear your thoughts on this concept of identity. What does healthy identity look like? And we realize that there’s an identity that I deal with personally in ministry.
And then how do I steward that identity as it trickles down onto my children.
Thanks, brother Matt. I would like to first just say a big thank you to the three of you and the ACCFS team for framing, identifying, and framing topics like this that are so meaningful and so helpful. I would say at the outset, Bev and I clearly are still learning ourselves. We haven’t mastered any of this.
Life and experience, of course, gives us insight and perspective and hopefully a lot of lessons learned. So the other thing I would say, Bev and my experience, even in thinking and praying about this together, it’s been really special. It’s been tender and it’s been really good and it helps you go back into deep memories with many, many positives, many, many precious times.
So that’s been a blessing for us. I would first respond, Matt, to the first question, which my comments will somewhat tie into both the first and second bullets, and then Bev will have complementary and different thoughts also on each of these points. And I also found it helpful rather than trying to immediately zero in on specifics of what does healthy identity look like.
We were trying to get underneath that into what are some of the fundamentals that feed into eventual clarity of identity. So the first one that seemed increasingly real as we processed it, Bev and me, was that the health of our marriage sets the tone for so much of these topics and the individual and collectively sets the tone in the terms of if love and mutual love and grace and respect are intentional and with the Lord’s hand present, it directly affects our parenting. It directly affects our children’s identity, how they feel in this whole dynamic. And we felt it really affects their whole perception of church and then certainly ministry. So a couple of additional quick points. You touched on it earlier, teaching and learning to become comfortable with who we are.
Learning to be real and knowing how we define real. Who are we? What do we believe? We love, we cherish our Apostolic Christian portion of our identity, but we also encouraged and emphasized with our girls and from our own perspective, our first identity certainly would be in Christ and as believers, as Christians secondarily are, versus our identity being first Apostolic Christian.
Cuz that broadens the foundation then upon what you start building many other points. The being real also we felt touches the whole person, the physical, mental, emotionally, spiritual. Either Bev or I’ll speak more into that. Maybe the third key point that was foundational for us was as we zero in on what is our identity, much of that’s going to be revealed by how do we make decisions, and at the risk of oversimplifying fundamentally, our desire and our earnest effort is to start with what does the Word say.
Along with good counsel. Secondarily, looking back and capturing lessons learned from history or from experience, having the humility to learn from others, but that’s much different than reversing those orders. If you start with, what does the Word say? It’s profound. And it helps us, it gets us real quickly to a point.
I love it. It’s a neat little verse in Jeremiah 3:15 where the Lord promises to have shepherds that feed the church with both knowledge and understanding. And as I understand that to be, that’s essentially getting the grasp of why is this important? So establishing that foundation for our children was very real to us.
So we worked at that. As I said, we haven’t mastered any of it. An additional quick point is the day I stepped into the ministry, my father, as we walked out of the assembly room, in a quiet moment, he walked up to me and he says, Mark, my encouragement to you is to the best of your ability serve willingly.
It was years into that, that I began to realize that to have proper willingness takes humility, and I became more earnest in praying for humility. Bev and I had a quick discussion too, on, so when, what did we do when these fundamentals weren’t working? When we weren’t feeling healthy. And one, we were blessed early on and throughout.
We’re both 68 now throughout different sectors of our life where we hugely benefited from Christian professional counseling. I hugely benefit from Bev, but we have benefited in a large way from our girls. Our three girls have had very large positive impact on who we are and even who we wanna be.
And we’ll speak more to that. I’m gonna share a quick example. We had a very dear elderly brother who in his youth, spent I think over a year in U of M Hospital, very ill, grew up, had ongoing health problems and a lot of pain in his hips. And later in years, he was quite limited in what he could get out.
So it was a blessing to stop in and see him. So we developed a real friendship. I was very young. He was very old. And it’s an example of the church understanding all of this and stepping into care, helping someone who’s needing to become healthy again. I remember two specific times I walked in and his name was George, and he looks at me and he says, Mark, you have not been riding horses often enough. You are stressed. And it was several weeks later, a similar thing, and I sat down and he says, Mark, you’ve been riding horses. You look different. So that was just a personal moment of where someone stepped in to help us get healthy again.
So I would like Bev to speak into this and if I could just interject real quick, Sister Bev, to bring some summary. I really like two words stuck out to me. One is health and one is real. And both of those make a great deal of sense as I look at this little girl on the screen that, yes, that we need to be healthy for her, but she also wants to know who daddy and mommy really are. That’s important on this identity piece, isn’t it? And if she’s confused about that, then that could be an area of difficulty. So I really appreciate those two words there. Bev, I’m interested in your thoughts.
Well, a healthy identity for me, I had to learn that my significance came for being a child of the king and that this ministry was not about us. It was about God’s calling. It’s not something we chose, but we were called and God was faithful in guiding and growing us in the Word. And there, as Mark said, there were times when we were not healthy, when life was full of stress. As a young mother with raising young children. I think there’s a huge ministry for young mothers with young families.
And it was important for me to get help. There were things I could not just pray myself out of. There were times dealing with depression or anxiety, as Mark said that we saw counseling as a resource, not just a crisis management program. And it has blessed us. You know, there’s times when I needed to take medication.
It was not my preference, but one thing I learned is it helped me to be in a more God honoring position to share his Word and his love and grace. And I had to learn that doesn’t come easy. I think we were very transparent about our struggles. It wasn’t something we tried to hide, nor did we try to play victim role.
You know, this is life and this is what we’re choosing to do about this. For both of us the ministry impacts both of us. And Mark has made me feel a priority in this time. He’s given me a voice to speak. I have cherished, he’s listened, he’s respected, he’s prayed for me. He’s loved me when I wasn’t very lovable.
And he’s never made commitments without talking about that together, communicating that to me. And there were times he made choices not to go places. In fact, I remember struggling at one particular time and I said, Honey, you have my full permission to tell him the reason you’re not going is because you have a very needy wife at home.
You have my permission to say that. And he has honored that. I think that has blessed our marriage and our family. I think our children have watched their father be such a gentleman, just encouraging. He has a heart to listen to me or the girls. And we made, he made our marriage a priority to this day.
We celebrate our monthly anniversaries and we’re presently at 558 months and I’m just thankful that we have taken time to foster our marriage, to encourage our marriage because I think that tone at the home with our children has been a huge blessing for us, and I’m grateful for how he has handled this in so many ways.
Thanks for sharing that. Arlan, I really appreciate, what I was hearing from that was just this sense of teamwork. The sense of identity being in it together. And I’m curious, I know as Katie and I have fairly new into the pulpit ministry and with younger kids, right? We have 11, 6. and 1 right now, we try to instill within them the fact that we’re in this together in a good way. And we want this to be a team approach. Did you find that as you were raising your girls, how did you have conversations to that effect or how did you try to help them to feel part of the ministry identity?
Well, I think sometimes things happened even when we didn’t intend to. Things like we made an effort to go out to eat. It didn’t have to be any place special, but we just, we did get a babysitter. We did make that effort to do that, and it was years later when one of our daughters said, Thank you for being so intentional, mom and dad, to teach us that marriage was important and I had to say I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to teach you that. I just needed it. But it was nice to do something right and not even intend to do it right. And then we also had the intentional times when, One example that comes to my mind is when our youngest daughter was a senior in high school and she was moving, she was going to be moving out of state for college and that fall of her senior year, Mark made the commitment to her that, and he told her that he would not be doing any unnecessary traveling that he didn’t have to do. Because his time with her, our time with her was precious. And knowing she had this year before she left for out of state college, he was choosing to do that.
And she came to us later and she said, Dad, when you told me that, that really wasn’t that big a deal to me. But she says, now as a mother looking back, she said, That’s hugely meaningful for me that you did that Dad. So I wish we would’ve been intentional with more things, but those are just a few examples.
Those are great examples. Thanks for sharing that. There’s one specific thing that as a younger, we have a lot to learn. Arlan’s approaching four years in pulpit ministry. I do remember a conversation shortly after we were voted in here to our local congregation and a dear sister caught me disciplining one of my children in the hall outside of church, right.
All of our children at some point are gonna act up and she looked at me, wink, wink. I had a relationship with her and she just said, Oh boy, now that you’re a preacher’s kid, they’re gonna have to behave. And instantly I knew I had to go to bat for my kid and say, You know what, you didn’t vote us in necessarily because my children behave properly all the time.
And she kinda laughed at that. But you know what that did? Exactly like Bev just said, it was unintentional, but it gave my kid the grace to act like a kid and realize they’re not gonna be perfect, and to also give me the grace that this isn’t necessarily why you voted us in. You voted us in for the real of life.
And so that’s a great point, I appreciate you bringing that up, Katie, your example is also a great reminder on how to protect our children from false assumptions. Which can become real. Right. And I grew up with, my parents were in the ministry and I don’t ever recall my parents ever saying to me, Now you need to behave. Those words were never spoken. And we were intentional to not ever speak those to our children. They didn’t need to behave because their father was a minister, they just needed to behave. Exactly. And what I hear in the wisdom of that is that we don’t use identity as a leverage.
Correct. And part of what you’ve mentioned here is when we live healthily when we live healthy in all of the other identities, you’ve emphasized marriage. You’ve emphasized being a mother and a father. All of these identities and their proper proportion, that goes a long ways in having a good, healthy ministry identity. I appreciate that. Let’s move on to the next one. Next one is this public and private life? Okay. Our children see a side of us that our church doesn’t see. Okay, So just real simple points. And that is that having a public and private life is simply unavoidable.
It’s not a bad or a good thing necessarily. It could be either. It’s just like my private and public teaching life is unavoidable. I mean, I’m just not in my classroom all the time. There’s times where I’m at home, there’s a private and a public scene and we can think about many areas of our life where we have this, and the ministry is another one of these.
However, the difference is that my kids aren’t in my classrooms. And in fact, I’m quite certain if some of my children did come into my classroom, they would be probably amazed and be like, who is that guy? Or, what’s dad doing? Or I’ve never heard him talk like this, you know? Because they’re not used to that environment. But we have a unique thing with the ministry is they see us on and off, and they are a part of the classroom, so to speak. They’re a part of the flock and the effects of public and private life, again, I mentioned neither positive nor negative.
I think we can immediately go to the hypocrisy and that would certainly fit and that’s worth mentioning, that hypocrisy, practice what you preach as the saying goes, right. Is certainly a way that could be positive or negative effect on our children. But we’re really lifting this conversation even larger than that that our kids just see a side that other kids don’t necessarily see of pulpit ministry. And, there is something I think unique about this little girl in the picture here that she sees Dad. We don’t wear a collar or a cloak like some Christian disciplines do.
But you can imagine in a sense we do, they do get a sense of that. So anyway, would love to hear your thoughts. As we go to the discussion, we really have the same format, the same type of questions about expectations, about what it looks like to have healthy, private, and public life. How do we steward this in a way that it can be a blessing, to the family?
These questions and all keep getting deeper and more personal, I think, for any of us who start trying to think them through, Matt. So I’m gonna use a couple examples in even learning. How do you deal with the public private decision process? So one of our girls, senior in high school, freshman college, dealt with very serious depression and eating disorder and was blessed to desire help, and we were blessed as a family for her to be just profoundly blessed with a professional Christian counseling service in Arizona that was focused on young ladies exactly like her and their whole program was built around Ephesians 2:8-10. So we are saved by grace through faith, not of ourselves, which of course speaks directly into any of us sorting through personal identity issues such as, and so as a dad who at that time was still a young elder but had become an elder. So I’ve grown up generations deep Apostolic Christian.
I’m thankful for that. But it was at that Remuda Ranch during family week that I really, for the first time, had a whole new depth of what Ephesians 2:8 means and how practical it is meant to be. And that’s also where my daughter who grew up in my home, our home, first had that new depth of understanding of that verse.
So that was very convicting, but freeing also for her and for me, and it was foundational to her healing. Mark, can I insert something Please. You just demonstrated, we’re talking about public and private life. You’re supposed to have all the answers on the pulpit in the public, but your daughter saw you privately learn a lesson with her in the Scriptures of the deep truths of God.
That really speaks exactly to, I just wanna put my finger on, I think the powerful moment you just shared because it touches on this beautiful union of public and private. Thank you. I just wanted to, without question and I was blessed early on. Because our first desire was to get the prayer support of the church, and yet that was sensitive.
And in talking at that time with Brother Ron Messner, he counseled me wisely to say, Just give it a little time, Mark. She will tell you when she’s ready for that public request. To which that came pretty quickly to which we were then able to share that special prayer request with the church so that beautiful learning public private experience was special.
The same thing, a similar thing happened still in Arizona when one of the moments during our family counseling, she looked at me and said, Dad, I know you love me, but I have not always felt that’s an unconditional love. And for example, this would’ve been early in her converted life.
She says, for example, there was a time when you would periodically remind me that I looked lovely, I looked beautiful, but that was only when I was dressed in a way that met your personal standard for some of our traditional dress. And that felt very conditional. And of course that was convicting for me because, What now is one of my favorite verses having been entrusted with the gospel.
So we preach not as pleasing men, but God and the pressure that we can unintentionally place on a child when we’re asking them to conform to something that is actually driven by perhaps our pride and our seeking approval of others. And that’s a lifetime lesson for me. And I’ve talked to our daughter just recently about that, and it’s a very shared growth experience, and we continue to learn and grow.
Thanks for sharing. That was one of the things that we didn’t choose that path, but God has grown all of us. As a family have thanked God for that journey because I thought I was compassionate and I had no clue how little compassion I had and we’re just to experience this as a family has been one of our most difficult and most blessed things God has brought our way. Going back just a little bit to what is the healthy public and private life look like? I just wanna respond that I didn’t try to be two different people. I didn’t want that for our children. I didn’t want that for me. I thought it was important to be consistent.
I tried to show them the confidence of having healthy boundaries and by living a God honoring life every day of the week. There was days we laughed and had fun and did things, and then there were days we went to church and sang together . But there was a consistency. I was grateful for the boundaries that we were able to put.
There was a time in my father being a minister, and I think that generation was, God comes first, that anything else is secondary. But I’ve seen it in some of my siblings. The hurt. I don’t believe my father ever intended to hurt the children, but I think we’ve learned that in our ministry, seeking God and sharing him.
There’s times when family needs to be a priority or your child needs to be, or your marriage, I think that’s extremely God honoring for them to know that they’re a huge priority to us. Dealing with this whole struggle, with this experience, with Remuda. And our daughter chose to do that. She was very open.
She shared that with junior high camp, high school camp and that whole experience was a huge ministry. And we’re grateful for her heart to be right. When she repented, she thought God would take that away, but she learned God wanted to help her, but it took some choices that she needed to make and gratefully that’s behind.
I think the other reasonable expectation for public and private is we try to teach the children to be consistent, to accept people for what they are, not for what we would like them to be. And that’s an ongoing challenge. And to just extend love and grace. The more grace you extend, the more grace you’re gonna receive.
And when we talked to which we did talk to all of our children, they have, their hearts are filled with just a lot of love and grace. I think our small little city church is kind of unique, but there’s been decades of love and grace there, and that’s had a huge impact on us.
Thanks for sharing that, Bev. Arlan, Katie, do you have something you wanna share? I would say a couple of things. We have the unique opportunity, obviously our pulpit ministry and Arlan’s job at ACCFS blend a lot. And so I would just encourage, especially families out there with young kids to try to, Mark and Bev did a great job talking about the distinct public and private, but oftentimes, in a non Covid year, the blessing of our denomination is travel and getting to know other churches and other friends and so forth. And so bringing your kids alongside of pulpit ministry in that way and encouraging them.
Daddy might get to preach, or daddy might get to talk to a different congregation of sorts. Here is where you can serve and this is gonna be serving. But then maybe we’re gonna build in an ice cream stop or maybe a trip to a museum or a zoo we haven’t seen. And that’s family time.
And just helping them understand the distinctness of here’s what we’re gonna do and it’s a serving time, and then here’s what family time looks like and we’re gonna build that in as well. So that they can see the encouragement there and just watching our language. Sisters, I would really encourage that I find myself really convicted from time to time.
Daddy has to do Convert Class or Daddy gets to teach Convert Class. I want my kids to be part of Convert Class someday, and I want our amazing local pulpit to be teaching my convert kids. So just watching our language and encouraging that is one way to help with that public private piece.
Were you gonna say something about social media? Two real quick thoughts, public private is such a fascinating concept in the world of technology and social media and all of that right now, I think there’s just a lot of moving parts and dynamics where we have a hard time separating the two, to some extent.
And so I think that honest and open discussion and the realness sister Bev I,really appreciated the fact just that humility and transparency. And, teachableness. Somewhere in the Scriptures where I think the word is gazing stock that the King James uses. But somewhere it speaks to how we as ministers, I don’t think it’s just pulpit ministry, I think anybody in a service ministry type opportunity, we are representatives of Christ to the world and sometimes were called to be that public learner, that public struggler, that public child of God for others, and those aren’t pleasant times always, but God uses them greatly. And thank you, for the example you shared and just the realness of that in our lives.
I just have one more comment regarding the public and private life. When we were first married with young children Wednesday nights, we chose to get a babysitter so Mark and I could go to Wednesday night church alone. It gave me a break and kind of helped me support him and we had some really special babysitters over years in the neighborhood. In fact, one sitter that we had, the girls actually had such special conversations with and invited her to come to our Easter program at church.
Well, she not only came to the Easter Program, she continued to come and in her college year, she was converted. And now, Doreen is a wife of a minister in Washington, Illinois Church. So our children started an outreach very early on and it was a huge blessing for us. And that was completely unintentional, right, Bev? You wanted the night off in spiritual nourishment and supporting your husband. That’s great.
Like I’ve said, our kids have taught us many things. Just a quick piece of humor. So they’re very young. Okay. We come home one evening, they meet us at the front door and say, Dad, Mom, Doreen needs to talk to you. We tried to tell her everything we could about repenting, but she needs to talk to you.
That’s great. And that really is a great example of a blessing. We’re gonna, in this last part talk about ministry is full of blessings and burdens and challenges, and our children view this little girl here. Our children see a side of our church that few others see. In the previous slide, our children see a side of us that the church doesn’t see.
Now we’re saying the children see a side of the church that other children don’t necessarily see. And so just a few points about that, and that is, it’s full of blessings and hurts. We know that kind of goes without saying and both of these will have effect on our children. They are aware, they’re cognizant.
Some like to eavesdrop more than others and seem to be in the know of things. Right. And they do know and that affects us. And so they have a different exposure. Okay. And so we as parents need to steward this as well in our kids. So let’s finish the evening again, with very similar questions, really going in the same direction as a lot of what you’ve shared this evening here.
What does it look like to steward this? How do we help our kids process? Maybe some of the hurts, challenges in a healthy way that doesn’t turn them away from the gospel or from church itself. So would love to hear your thoughts, Mark and Bev.
Well, looking back over the 42 years of ministry, we have had blessings more than we could count, and we can hardly recall a struggle in our church over those years. Our struggles have been more personal but we have been blessed with a church that has been an abundance of love and grace and prayer support. It’s not a perfect church, but it has been a huge blessing for us and our children.
One of our Livonia Church primary assets, I think, is we all come from somewhere else and have many different backgrounds, and Bev just used the key words. I’ve often been blessed to define our church to other people who ask, So tell me about your church. I said, they’re just filled with a lot of love and grace, and they are a praying church. It’s a beautiful thing. They’re a beautiful church to serve.
But one of the things we did learn was years ago they did an elder survey. What were strengths and weaknesses? And that was so insightful. The biggest insight we had was we learned that our struggles were one of our greatest assets.
The church had watched us go through struggles and they thought because we had dealt with them, that they would feel freer to share their struggles and felt there would be a lot more compassion. I looked at Mark and I said, Who knew honey? Who knew that our visible struggles were such an asset in life?
But that was a huge gift for us to learn. And I think the other thing our children learned at a young age was they had experienced so much grace and love that it was easy for them to extend that to other people. They knew there was prayer support and they knew we were free to share our struggles and to be prayerful for ’em. I think that was just a precious moment for us. Go ahead. Nope, that’s fine. Thanks for that.
I was curious about that. Just a point to build off of that. One of the questions actually came in the registration on just how do you help a church with awareness of maybe a struggle or a need. And it sounds like in Livonia it just happened naturally. I mean, they were a church that was already primed for that. But is there any counsel or wisdom or encouragement for maybe a minister out there who is going through this or feeling this stress or this strain to fit in or be perfect or not quite know how to handle the struggle they might be feeling, and yet the desire for the church just to be aware of that. Have you any counsel or thoughts to share in that regard to bring realness to the blessings and challenges here?
One suggestion that would come to mind is to recognize there’s not a textbook formula for how that fits to individuals. So every individual will be different. So for the one person, it may be wanting to be known and understood by the minister team and ask them for prayers. Another person may say, Yes, I’d really love for the church to just know that I’m struggling and I just need their prayers. Other people will say, Actually, I feel a part of what I need, I need to personally ask the church for prayer support for this and this. So I think there’s a whole range and the opportunity is to nurture, to assist someone to personally walk through what is right for them.
Well, also, I’m reminded a few years ago we had a really sad situation with a suicide. And that impacted everybody greatly. And Mark went and spoke to the Sunday school kids, the older kids, just walking through that and trying to help them to deal with that. So we didn’t have an agenda to do that, but when these times come up, I think reaching out to our young people in some ways it was almost better than going to the adults because they were, I think, grateful that their children were getting help. So situations like that, I think are opportunities God wants us to reach out and support and help.
I really appreciate that. And I think it does speak to just the realness of it though, starting with kind of a base level that of understanding our identity being rooted in Christ first and foremost. And that’s where the strength comes from. But then the realness of prayerfully considering the situation and being teachable and vulnerable as appropriate in the midst of that.
I had another question, Matt, unless you had a direction you were gonna go. No, go ahead. Yeah, go ahead and offer it. I’m just curious, we’re blessed with 40 some years of experience here and, Mark and Bev, you’ve raised your kids from little on up through the ministry, through the eldership. Bev, You’ve been an elder’s daughter and minister’s daughter. Throughout that, have you seen generations as we think about the generations and just how things change over time?
Sometimes you can hear that voice in the back of your head saying, Well, we never used to need that. Or that wasn’t how we used to do it. Or something like that. And, it seems like to this dad, the needs of the kids today are changing. Our kids are changing and maybe they’re different than they were in the past, and it’s trying to find that right balance. And I’m curious if from your perspective, you would see some of the same things over time. You mentioned learning from your kids over time. Speak to that just a little bit more if you would.
Oh, that’s been a huge part. And, I’m thankful our children love us enough to share their struggles and hurts when they’re hurt, when they, I remember one time visiting with one of ’em and asking, they were struggling, and I asked them, I said, how can I be helpful for you? What can I do? And the comment was, I just need space. I just need space. And I said, fine, I’ll give you space, but let me know if I can be helpful. And later she said to me, Mom, I just wanted you to turn around and just hold me. Aww. So I think if there’s anything we can do as parents is to, these our high school kids, love them, hold them ask them how you can support them. Make them a priority. Make your decisions that show they are a priority, not just telling them. I’m grateful when we’ve told our kids and this whole thing, we discussed it with all three of our kids. I’m just grateful for the heart and communication that’s been there.
There’s many things we haven’t done right, But yet, when your children say, I know you didn’t need to make the mistakes and that’s a huge redeeming thing to hear from your children. We didn’t mean it, but thank you for helping us know how we can encourage and bless you.
I so appreciate what Bev said. And we often say to ourselves, much of who we are and want to be is very directly related to our children and now our grandchildren. And that’s in the context of the practical side of life. So there’s the tenderness of life, you share the joys, the sorrows, all of those things. And one of my observations is that every generation seems to do some things better than previous generations, and there’s some things that they should have carried forward from the past that they dropped.
So there’s a learning in the process, but there are improvements, certainly Brother Arlan, what you were saying. There are very special, positive, new approaches to communication, to the freedom to say, I need help with this, versus generations gone by when it, That was an unspeakable. Yeah. So all of that’s positive.
The other thing, just as Bev said that the proper reprioritization of marriage and parenting children doesn’t take anything away from our identity in and service to God. But God wants us to be honoring him and honoring him is also caring for family. Just recently, we talked with each of our three girls prior to this evening, which was really special.
I have a couple positives. One of the blessings one of them mentioned was the blessing and one of you mentioned it earlier, learning to know people getting to visit more free to speak into issues cuz they have a sense of those issues, having a sense of being tuned into some of the progress and priorities that are ongoing in the church, progress that’s being made.
And not being another one, not being intimidated by leadership because they’ve seen leadership as just real people. Yeah. And so there’s that whole side of it that’s very real. I love the last question too, because I think if children at various ages can clearly know that they are treasured and they’re actually a source of inspiration.
If they can know that it’s right for them to be themselves, Yes, subject to counsel, the grace of God growing them, but being themselves. Also within the family, for the children to be each other’s supporters. Because there’s times when that’s the only place that’s gonna happen. Life can get hard, and to know there’s that security at home. And then especially for them to know we value your questions, your concerns, and we value your suggestions big time.
Brother Mark, I think that wonderfully sums up the purpose of this entire presentation and as we think about these three areas, I just wanna say thank you, Brother Mark, Sister Bev. Clearly, the emotion that this topic brought to you, that little girl in the center of the screen brings that out in all of us. And for you to be vulnerable in that way, we richly benefited from it. And we wanna say thank you. Arlan, you have some closing comments?
Yeah, no. I just to echo what Matt said, thank you, Brother Bark and Sister Bev for being part of it. Thank you each one for joining us and for listening tonight. And we pray and we hope that you can take away a nugget or two and be intentional about that ministry which God has given us. Right? It’s his ministry. There’s great opportunity there. But we also need to be intentional about the impact and treasure our children. I love that word. And, let’s leave tonight encouraged to continue to treasure them for who they are and who God has blessed us with that. So thank you again and wishing you God’s blessings tonight.
And, we do have more webinars upcoming in 2021. We just put some final touches on topics and ideas. We will be sending those out via email in the upcoming weeks. So, you can be looking for those or they’re actually on our website under the events portion for upcoming webinars.
We really appreciate the opportunity to share these topics and these ideas together with you and have conversations. And we do wish you God’s blessings tonight on your ministry and on each day that we can serve him be
In our recent minister webinar, we considered the interplay between the pulpit ministry and our family. Bro. Mark and Sis. Bev Bahr joined us as we discussed the importance of being intentional in navigating how ministry can impact our family in three areas: our identity, our public/private roles, and the blessings, burdens, and challenges we experience in the ministry. Learn more as you watch the webinar recording.
Ministry and Family Webinar PPT handout