Over the past 23+ years Donna and I have had the honor and privilege to stand before many different groups of students of all sizes and speak hundreds of times. Whether it was waking up early in the morning to lead a prayer\Bible Study group over a box of donuts, a small group of kids in a home, or an event in a Fellowship Hall, Gym, or Youth Facility, we’ve been super blessed to be in front of a lot of wonderful people. We’ve led worship, spoken, and taught at Retreats, Camps, Conferences, Ski Trips, Beach Trips, & Events to thousands of students but as I sat on the fireplace hearth last week leading a Bible Study in Colorado with my family, I recognized more clearly than ever. That’s where every Dad, who is a follower of Christ, should be sitting at some point in their lives. Men are called by God to be the shepherd and overseer of their homes. It’s not another man’s job to lead our families, it’s ours, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude to be sitting on that fireplace hearth with mine.
Before I paint some grandiose picture of myself and allow you to think that I am some type of model in this area, I must admit that I have not been as faithful to this mission as I should have been over the years. Donna and I have honestly tried to make it a priority in our family, but there have been many moments lost. I look back and see myself exhausted from “leading a youth group,” and failing the most important group I would ever be honored to lead… my wife and kids.
I know now, more than ever, that as important as it is for weDIGit’s ministry to travel & speak to students, individuals, and churches, it is equally, if not more important, to challenge, support, and encourage those individuals to be the church in their own home first. We are finding more and more joy in knowing that a Dad & Mom have been awakened and inspired to love God most, and then watch as they learn to love each other and minister to their own family first.
By the way, the devil hates it when we begin to apply these truths to our families. It really disrupts his master plan of destroying society by destroying the home. I think that's why we get so "busy" doing church. The enemy loves to wear us out doing "good things" so that we will neglect the ones that need us most. He even tries to make us feel guilty for taking time away to be with our families. I'm afraid we actually spend more money and time away with other families than taking time with our own. (That's the subject of my next blog....) The enemy wants us to believe we are "sacrificing for Jesus," but I believe that is why Samuel, who knew a little bit about this topic, said in I Samuel 15:22 "What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams."
I’m thankful that over the last 10 -12 years of our ministry the Holy Spirit began to shift our focus.
I'm thankful for a wife that hears God voice and began to truly understand what it meant to have the very presence of God IN us!
I’m thankful for a group of parents & leaders in Little Rock, Arkansas that challenged my “Event Driven” philosophy and encouraged me to think about what it would look like if the church began in the home first.
I’m thankful for a mentor in my life that told me weekly to “BE the Church” wherever you are, and reminded me that the early church grew rapidly because it spread from “house to house to house.” Not because they had a great “Friend Day” or “Outreach Event.”
I’m thankful for the last 3 1\2 years and the sanctifying work God is doing in my life. It’s been painful. It’s been lonely. I’ve felt isolated at times and “like a fish out of water” as God began to expose my true heart, motives, and desires. (They were out of whack to be quite honest) I’m so thankful that He is beginning to graciously shape my heart and desires into His own. He is showing me His deep love for His children…starting with my own family, the community around me, and beyond.
Even though the Carroll Clan, starting with me, is far from perfect, we are learning and growing together. I know I could have definitely done so much more to lead my family more effectively, but I’m grateful that it has become increasingly more important to us and our family to begin to understand what it means to love God MOST individually first, as a family second, and then corporately with other believers.
Dad, have you ever seen yourself as the shepherd of your home? Have you ever considered that you have a family ministry, children’s ministry, and youth ministry in your own home? Sure it’s great to connect, worship, and enjoy ministries together with other believers in local churches. BUT, they can’t replace the greatest ministry that you will ever do or be a part of in your own home.
Be encouraged! Be Inspired! Be Awakened! You don’t need any training to lead a prayer or share a verse in your home. It may be awkward or last only a few minutes, but the repercussions spiritually cannot be measured. Do it! When you plan your next family outing, attend a tournament or game with your kids, or make time to travel away on vacation, remember that's the most important trip you could ever take with any group of people. Change your thinking! Instead of seeing what happens outside the walls of your home as the “cure all” for your family, realize all you need is IN YOU! Sit down on a fireplace hearth somewhere and let God work through you to minister to the beautiful people He has placed in your home. Remember the gospel spread all over Jerusalem and around the world by moving from house to house to house.