There are many people within the youth minister’s universe that he or she needs to maintain boundaries with, so that they can be “good neighbours.” We have established that these people include the kids we work with, their parents, the church members, fellow staff persons, ministry peers, and even oneself. We have not yet looked at the youth minister’s own family. Perhaps we should have plumbed the depths of this relationship first. But I know that if we had done so, the volume of the message would likely have been muted by the time you got to the end of the book. Of all the relationships you have in youth ministry—or any ministry for that matter—the relationships you have within your own family are absolutely the most important, the most precious, and the most difficult to tend to, let alone mend when you haven’t tended them. So we have waited until now to discuss boundaries with the family. For our purposes, we define family as your spouse and kids, if you have them. However, much of what follows would also apply to those people who are closest to you, such as a fiancé, girlfriend, best bud… anyone with whom your job demands could impact in a noticeable way (to them!).
THE FIRST SHALL
The legacy of the church is pathetic when the focus is turned to the minister’s family. You don’t have to look very far, nor very deep, to find a minister’s family that has experienced some heavy duty pain directly because of the ministry itself… and the way in which the minister has responded to it. We all know that there are sacrifices that are made daily by ministers of all types and persuasions, lay and ordained, female and male, rural or urban. But what of the family members of said ministers? What do they contribute to the cause of ministry, or to the success of the minister? What do they sacrifice for the ministry?
Usually too much. Many a televangelist has had to admit to failing pretty miserably with their own family, even though their church grew more vibrant every year. More than a few times, this miserable “failure” could be measured in the personal misery of particular family members. This is also true for those less esteemed, or at least less famous, than their televised brethren.
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