If you are reading this, you probably are the kids minister (or preschool ministries director, children’s director, etc.). Forward this to your spouse and keep reading so you will know if he/she reads it — or not!
My wife and I have been married for over 30 years. During the first half of our marital adventure, I was either preparing for or serving on a church staff. My wife was my partner in ministry. Before our children were born, we taught preschool Sunday School together. When our two sons were young, my wife made sure they were in Sunday School, worship, missions, choir, and everywhere else good staff children were supposed to be. I even dragged my young family to children’s camp, the year that I came down with Shingles during the week!
Then came the big move from church staff to Lifeway Christian Resources. No longer serving as a staff member, I was a volunteer again. My wife and I almost immediately began teaching preschool Sunday School, and a few years later we taught Bible skills to preteens. We drove to church as a family. We could take off on a weekend if we wanted to do so. Then came the empty nest.
Around that same time, our church asked my wife to join the staff. Suddenly, I was married to the Director of Preschool Ministries. Needless to say, I didn’t know how to act. However, I have learned some things that may be helpful if you find yourself married to a kids minister, too.
1. Remember who is on church staff — and it’s not you!
You are not in charge. You are a volunteer, just as are the other kids ministry volunteers at your church. You don’t make the decisions; you abide by your spouse’s decisions. If you disagree, do so privately. If other volunteers try to go around your spouse by coming to you with their concerns, defer them to your spouse. When others want you to do something because they “can’t find” your spouse, gently redirect them.
2. Be an advisor, not a general.
This can be especially hard for men. If something is not going well, or if someone doesn’t like what your spouse is doing, you may want to charge into the battle. Don’t do it! Listen to your spouse and give advice when asked, but don’t try to be a fixer. Sometimes your spouse needs you to step out of your volunteer role and just be the husband or wife God has called you to be. Listen, comfort, support, and pray with your spouse.
3. Make wise choices related to church leadership opportunities.
Prior to my wife being on paid church staff, I had served on the Preschool Committee, Personnel Committee, and Deacon Ministry Team. Now, I limit my leadership opportunities to preschool and children’s ministry. Maybe kids ministry is not “your thing.” However, if a leadership position feels like a conflict of interest (Deacons, Finance Committee, Personnel Committee), then it probably is. Say, “No,” to those opportunities. You’ll be more effective in other roles, and you’ll be able to be an advisor to your spouse (see previous point).
4. Be present.
Does this mean that you need to be at church every time the doors are open? I don’t think so. This does mean that you need to be present emotionally and spiritually. And yes, sometimes physically at church. My wife and I understand that we are both busy and may not be at church everyday of the week. However, my wife knows if she needs me, and I’m able, I’ll be there.
Landry Holmes is Manager of Kids Ministry Publishing, Lifeway Christian Resources. He teaches preschoolers and elementary kids at his church in Middle Tennessee. Landry and his wife Janetta are the parents of two adult sons and a beautiful daughter-in-law. When they’re not working or at church, they’re entertaining their rat terrier Ranger (named after the Texas Rangers baseball team).