“Where are you going”
“I’ll miss you”
This is a regular piece of dialogue in our house between my dad and my youngest sister. Every week she gets left behind with my mom and the baby as her three oldest siblings and her dad head off to youth. It’s hard for her but she usually gets to watch a movie which makes her feel better.
In our family it is not uncommon to have to sacrifice one or more family members for a while for ministry purposes. Dad has to be at leadership meetings, I have to be available for youth related activities, my sister does Sunday School, and my mom is known as “everybody’s mom” and is always available no matter who needs her. These are just a few things we are committed to, and some things involve more than just one of us.
I know that this is not an unheard of idea, generally people who serve in the church have family members that do the same. I personally know several people who regularly sacrifice their loved ones to different ministries.
So what does all this have to do with generosity?
It might sound like a strange concept, but I’m suggesting that we need to learn to be generous with our loved ones. I don’t mean that we need to spend lots of money on them and spoil them, giving to your loved ones. Rather, I mean that you are “generous” by giving of your loved ones. When one has to go and serve, you let them go willingly.
Often we think a lot about “How can I serve [in the local church/ministry]?”. Which is fantastic, keep doing that. But I challenge you to add to your thought pattern. “How can I help others to serve?”
It took me a while to realise that when one person is involved in a ministry, the family has to back it. If I need to be somewhere for a youth meeting, I need to use the car and leave my family without it. If mom needs to meet someone for coffee, one of us needs to help look after kids at home. If dad needs to give talks at youth, mom needs to be there to listen to what he has prepared and to show him what he needs to touch up on. If Jess needs to have a craft ready for her Sunday School class, we need to help her get the materials. And the list goes on.
Sometimes though, the going gets tough. We miss having certain people around exactly when we want them. That’s when we have to remind ourselves of the following verse.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” – Luke 14:26 (ESV)
Now this verse isn’t contradicting the verse to love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:31) but rather it is saying that your love for God must be so great that your love for those important people in your life looks like hate in comparison.
Do you love God enough that you are willing to give up everything for Him, knowing that you are not the only person who desires to serve Him but that you likely have loved ones who wish to do the same? Do you love your family and friends and the way they make your life easier a little bit more than you should?
Be generous. Let your family members and friends go without begrudging them for it. Encourage them and let them know that you support them. And then actually support them. Notice where they might have to drop something else in order to do what they have been tasked with doing and help them by doing it in their place.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” – John 15:13 (ESV).
Sometimes that doesn’t mean dying, sometimes that means giving up what you want to do and have so that someone else can do what they need to.