Do I want to go back to ministry? – a reflection

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A special shoutout for my wife for putting the kids to sleep so I can write this blog 😀

I will jot a few thoughts about being a stay-at-home dad and someone who used to be in ministry. 

Today someone asked me this question, “do I want to go back to ministry?”

The answer is YES, and of course. 

But this doesn’t mean I will jump back in, not at least in this season.

Being a stay-at-home dad, especially being a father, a parent, you go through many emotions as your kids grow.  The more positive moments you feel like, “I am so glad to be a father.”  There are other moments where you wish otherwise.

When we touched down in Singapore and  people asked me what I am doing, and I told them I am taking care of my kids, the next question is, “what else do you do?”

The answer is pretty much nothing.  Because looking after two toddlers is a full-time job. 

I admire stay-at-home moms who take care of the house and raise kids at the same time. It is not easy. 

I have it easier.  I don’t cook.  Wai Jia does most of the cooking.  Wai Jia also gives me breaks throughout the day. An hour here or there so I can take a nap or do my own thing.

But wow, it is exhausting.  Right now, it is 9 pm, and I am exhausted.  

It isn’t a bad thing.  It is just tiring.

The other day, both Wai Jia and I were so tired lying on the sofa at night, and we talked about maybe we should send Sarah-Faith to school or get a helper (which is common in Singapore).

For most people, this is normal.  This is the way it should work.  I should focus on my ‘career,’ and Wai Jia should focus on hers.  The kids can be taken care of by daycare, helper, tuition, and/or programs—just something to occupy them.

So why do we decide to do everything ourselves? 

At the end of that night, I realized we are doing this, everything hands-on, not because we are unique or proud or skilled.  It is because this is the best way I know how to raise them.  This is the only way to fill their love tank full every day and build a strong foundation in their lives from love.  No one, no school, no program can do that.  And if this is the way, then this is the way we will persevere.

Someone also once told me that I am skilled at kids and that he isn’t that type of parent.  I didn’t know what to say at that time, but now I do.  I am not skilled at all.  I don’t have a natural connection with toddlers.  But I am doing it because this is my role as a father and as a parent.  This is my reasonable responsibility.  It doesn’t matter if I don’t like children.  They are my children, and part of my job as a father is to love them.

Can I get some help? Of course.  But the line between getting help and outsourcing parenting is blurry. 

I do not know, nor am I here to judge others, but I know if I have a helper at home, the results show that the helper will do all my parenting as I focus on ministry.  And that is not healthy and a disservice to my two little girls.

After experiencing being a stay-at-home dad, my reply is that I am doing this by God’s grace. 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

And I depend, or learning to depend, on His grace, every day, every hour, and sometimes minute by minute.

I do not enjoy ‘sitting at the sideline’ from doing God’s work.  But that’s false thinking to a certain extent.  Raising my kids to show God’s love through my love is the work.  It is as important, if not more important, than ministry, per se.

Interestingly, when Paul gave Timothy the criteria in choosing elders, one of them is to check their children.  In 1 Timothy 3:2, the children must obey their parents, and in 1 Timothy 3:12, the deacon must manage his children and his household well.  Paul specifically said that if one cannot manage his own family, how can they take care of the church (1 Timothy 3:5). 

Now, what does manage well mean?  That’s a great question.  That’s a Bible study worth having.  But for me, the very least is that the children feel love at home.  And this love is a reflection of God’s love.  Also, it is impossible to show love without being in person with intention.

During today’s conversation with a friend, I shared that I can always go back to do ministry, and it isn’t hard per se. I need to ask a pastor friend or send my resume (cv) out to everyone.  But that won’t be God’s way.  It is my way.  It is man’s way. It is the practical and logical way. It is the commonsense way.

And right now, God hasn’t opened any door for me to do His work.  Does this mean I will be a stay-at-home dad forever? I do not know.  I doubt it.  But I am not treating this season as some prison where I am counting the days to get out.  No, I am treating it as ‘ministry’ to two exceptional individuals in this team, Team Tam.  Wai Jia and I are pouring all that we have to know God’s love, not through the brain but from the heart. 

Some may think, well, they are too young to understand or remember anything right now.  That’s a lie.  They don’t remember facts and details, but they will remember the feelings.  Emotion is a strong memory.  It is so deep in us that it is hard even to express it a lot of times.  And that’s where we are laying our foundation.  We just keep plowing and sowing.  One day, we will reap what we sow.

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By Cliff

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