God, Family, Ministry
If you are a Christian you are called to be in Ministry Work. But where does that calling and obligation fit with the other callings and obligations God may have given you in your life? Obviously, ministry work is important, very important. But what if you also have a family and children? Are these things in conflict?
I think that is one of the very interesting topics in our scripture and our discussions today. We don’t know when Moses’ wife and children were sent back to Midian. The bible doesn’t say exactly. In specific terms, the only time reference it gives to this event is in Exodus 18:2: After she was sent, she was received by Jethro.
We know that Moses wasn’t an advocate of leaving women and children behind. In Ex 10:11 Pharaoh told Moses that he and the men could leave to worship God, but they had to leave the wives and children behind. This was not acceptable.
We also see that Moses’ sister, Miriam, was a prophetess and had a leadership role in the worship service, leading all the women of the community in praise of God. There is clearly a role for both men and women (and children) in ministry work.
The Apostle Paul advocates for those who devote their lives fully to ministry work to stay single as a way to avoid the conflict that both obligations present. But that does not mean and he does not indicate that those who are married cannot participate in ministry work or that they must leave their families behind to do so.
In fact, this conflict can often lead to bigger problems. A passion and dedication to ministry can bring some to ignore or fail to fulfill their role in their own household. This, in turn, can weaken that relationship and cause other problems, marital issues and separation and a weakening of the family structure. That approach is not supported in the scriptures. The opposite is true. We see the strength of the joint ministry work of Priscilla and Aquila. We see the dedication to family members, even ones that are not blood relatives, such as Ruth and Naomi. We know that God could have brought Jesus into this world in any number of miraculous ways, but He chose for Jesus to be born to Mary and Joseph.
Moses’ wife and children could have been sent away for safety reasons, if they were in mortal danger either during plagues or even when the Hebrews were rising up to stone Moses over food and drink. But I believe a more supported reason would have been to spread the good news of God’s glory to people who could not be otherwise reached, and then, only for a short time.
Who else could have brought the news of God’s miraculous redemption of the Hebrews to Jethro than his own daughter and grandsons (who would likely have been full grown adults)? Would he have believed or accompanied a stranger? I think this is supported in the fact that Jethro returns with his daughter and grandsons to Moses. There is no indication of disapproval or the action or that Moses was not fulfilling his role from any words of Jethro. In fact, he celebrates God with Moses and the elders of the community. Furthermore, he goes on to coach Moses and give him wisdom in how to raise up leaders. This structure and hierarchy of the people was a part of God’s design and training to turn this group of former slaves into His nation.
In the same way it is wise for us, in our churches, to look for capable servants of the Lord to raise up as leaders, prayerfully and each according to their current talents. I was visiting with a co-worker who was searching for a new church for her family. The church they attended was fine, bible-based and God centered, but the long-term members of the church had each carved out their roles and areas of service which they had lead for years. After 3 years, neither she nor her husband had been able to find a way to serve inside the church in any meaningful way that wasn’t received as trespassing on someone else’s turf.
Are we getting into a situation like Moses where others can’t grow because we have refused to let go of our own turf? Not only is that detrimental to the church and community, but it is unhealthy for us and others. Have we fallen in love with serving the Lord or is our love in the Lord? We cannot even imagine what God has in store for us next if we don’t trust Him enough to cling to Him instead of to a position of service or authority. That does not mean to abandon the role you are in – it simply means that we shouldn’t be doing it alone, but instead looking to bring others alongside. Run your leg of the race, but understand clearly who you are handing the baton to for the next leg.
Scripture doesn’t say. When they had passed through the red sea and Egypt’s army was destroyed to send word to family., Ex 10:11
When God calls them (spouse and children) for His ministry – when they are going into safety and they have provision
He was delighted, praised God and brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, ate with the elder in God’s presence
How God has rescued us and blessed us with His grace
He was not raising up other leaders by delegating work. He was trying to do it all Himself.
Can’t be all things – Moses role was to be the people’s representative before God, select capable men to also serve
capable men from among the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain
the people of the tribes of Israel
To be a capable man from among His followers and for Him to continue to show me how He would have me serve