Last Friday, my good friend Heidi and I were scheduled to speak to ministry wives at a conference. The week before that, we both came down with all-over body rashes, complete with the crazy itching that bleeds and the sleepless nights in the bathtub. Hers was shingles. Mine was “undiagnosed.” We both recovered enough to speak at the conference but afterwards, just shook our heads. This kind of stuff has become pretty expected in our line of work – and we shouldn’t be surprised that when ministry ramps up, so does that battle. When we are storming the gates of death with the message of life, the battle will rage.

You are in ministry. You get it. There are seasons when the circumstances of life just seem to collide just when you are seeing God move, or when you are on the precipice, watching for Him. Or maybe it’s more obvious than circumstances. Maybe you see all the signs of spiritual attack and know your enemy is waging war against you in strategic ways that are aimed specifically at your weaknesses. Regardless of whether the stormy season comes as a result of living in a fallen world or directly from your enemy, figuring out how to navigate that season, incurring as little long-term damage as possible is essential. And not just for yourself, but for your kids. With their less years and less experience, they often don’t understand what’s happening and don’t have the tools to fight. This is our opportunity to pull our families together, in the midst of the storm and help them not only survive it but become stronger in the midst of it.

But in the midst of it, what can I do to cause our family to come out on the other side stronger? 

Here are some things Heidi and I talked about that have helped our families thrive in the storm:

  1. Pray for discernment. Ask the Lord to show you if this is a spiritual battle. Sometimes God confirms this and sometimes He is silent. When I don’t sense any leading from the Lord, I play it safe and assume that there’s a spiritual battle going on. I proclaim (out loud, because the enemy can’t read your mind), to our enemy that He has no place here. I tell him to leave in the name of Jesus and claim the victory by the cross. It’s no more complicated than that. It may feel weird the first time you do it. But I just remember how many times wisdom may look foolish in Scripture (see 1 Cor. 2:4-5, 3:18, 4:10)
  2. Pray for protection. Ask the Lord to go before you and protect you and your family from the attacks of the evil one. Remember though that God promised that in this world we will have trouble, so He didn’t intend on protecting us from all of it. There are muscles that will be flexed and grow in the midst of this storm. And He has armed you with all you need for the battle. Pray that He would give you the eyes to see that and the willingness to allow Him to work in it for His glory and your good.
  3. Collect the troops. Meet together as a family and talk through the following:

Assess the Situation

  • What are we facing that is hard? Call it out and name it. It normalizes everyone’s experiences and helps us to not feel so alone
  • Why is this particularly hard? What emotions are we feeling?

Form a Battle Strategy

  • How can we get through this storm as a strong family?
  • When we are in a storm, we have limited resources to draw from (like energy, time, patience). How can we make sure we are using our resources in the wisest way possible?
    • Consider taking a break from social media, use that time to do something genuinely refreshing
    • Consider having the family drop their devices in a designated area after a certain time in the evening. This will foster connection and ensure that you aren’t wasting energy on the unimportant
    • Schedule outdoor time together.
    • Designate time to talk about the storm/battle and times to call it “off limits”. Decide together when those will be and offer gentle reminders to help each other.
  1. Lead Out Together

Ask your husband if you can help lead out in prayer. He is probably leading out in so many areas in this battle that he would love to have your help in leading your family in this area. If you have questions about this, look at the examples of the godly women in Scripture that led their families in prayer and teaching them about God. (Consider that Priscilla is mentioned with Aquilla as co-leaders in Acts 18, God addresses both parents when telling them to teach their children about HIm in Deut 6 and admonishes them “do not forget the Lord” when they find themselves experiencing blessing, and obviously Eunice and Lois who taught Timothy about God). It doesn’t need to take away his leadership in the family, but rather offers to come alongside him in helping him to lead your family. If this is an area of strength for you, offer it up to your husband in humility.

  1. Be Intentional
  • Ask each person in your family for one way that the family can be praying for them during this season.
  • Write it somewhere in a noticeable place where you all can be reminded.
  • Choose one person to pray for when you gather for meals. Short and sweet. Non-intimidating.
  1. Schedule Down Time

Battle is extremely emotionally taxing. This means that you need to schedule recovery time. I’ve found that whenever we’ve gone through an extremely hard season, God has always built in time for rest. However, I often fill it with extras, stuff that didn’t need to be there but that sucked up the time. When God carves it out – you take it. Let Him redeem that season and refresh your souls.

One of my favorite memories (of all time) with my kids was when Craig was traveling. We were in an intensely hard ministry season at the church and God was calling Craig to what would be the hardest conversations of his life. There was a war going on and we could hear the mortars flying overhead. I felt helpless until I realized that we were the only ones who understood the extent of the battle that was being waged. Who better to fight it with Craig than his family.  So, I packed up dinner and a blanket and the girls and I headed to the hillside next to our church. Throughout dinner, we prayed for Daddy. We prayed for courage to say what God had laid on his heart. For wisdom to know when to be silent. For God to go before us and make a way for peace and redemption. For God to restore the years the locusts had eaten.

And God did just that – and even more. Our girls and I got to sense the Lord moving through our prayers and showing them that they aren’t just “the pastor’s kids”. Our kids are a crucial part of this Kingdom-advancing, battle-raging, Spirit-empowered team that God intentionally called to serve together in this place.

Jesus, sometimes this battle is so daunting. I worry about what it will cost our kids. I worry about us getting through it as a family and still loving you and the Church. Lord, You are the only one that can preserve us. You are the One who can equip us and strengthen us to be able to stand firm. And You are the only One who can heal us when we’re wounded. God, come into this battle. Fight it for us. And strengthen us in our inner being, to become all that you’ve intended us to be in it, since before time began. We love You and we trust You. Amen