When Tim and I got married 20 years ago, we knew our life as youth ministers was going to be a wild adventure filled with laughter and tears, passion and heartbreak, devotion and turkey bowling. What we didn’t anticipate was that being a youth ministry family would at times require a little bit of professionalism.
We realize that using family and professionalism in the same sentence may seem odd, but for us, it’s part of the call. Our value as parents is not to raise children that our church community finds pleasing. Our goal is to raise strong children who love Jesus and people and who live lives that reveal God’s kingdom. Sprinkling in a little professionalism along the way helps us reach this goal.
- Youth Group is a Rite of Passage: In an effort to make (and keep) youth group special, we do not allow our children to attend youth events until they’re in the appropriate grade. We want to preserve their chance to experience the excitement and wonder of Jesus that is experienced uniquely in youth ministry. We don’t want our girls to show up for the first night of a DNow and say, “This is lame. I’ve been doing this since I was 7.” Our hope is that when our children are finally old enough to become part of the youth group, they’ll be super pumped about joining all the fun. (Because Tim and I are a youth ministry team, we both occasionally need to be away from our kids. We’ve developed a small team of “nannies” to join our volunteer youth staff and love on our girls.)
- Our Family Story is Protected: We are careful with how we use our story in ministry. Tim and I are both story-tellers, but we do not use our family as sermon illustrations without permission (even from our kids). Our family has some fantastic material, but if a family member doesn’t want something shared, then it’s not shared. This same principle applies to social media. We will not post a status, picture, or video of a Levert without permission . . . no matter how funny.
- Team Levert: We do not complain or speak negatively about our family in public. Ever. No “ball and chain” or “I’m so ready for my kids to go back to school” comments from either Tim or me. We are a family, and we have our share of struggles. But our struggles are our struggles, and they’re private. We have found safe places to share our thoughts and feelings about our family in a very small group of very close friends, but to talk about these things with church members, family, friends, and social media is off limits. This is not about trying to look like a perfect ministry family – we are just trying to honor our story. The Leverts are on the same team.
If you’re like us, the word professionalism brings images of collared golf shirts, uncomfortable shoes, and boring conversations. Our family needs wide open spaces to grow and create, but to mix in some professional family boundaries along the way has helped us preserve the things that are most important to us. Geaux team!
Thanks for reading,
Tim and Tasha Levert