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This post was originally posted at YouthSpecialties.com; follow the discussion there or start a new one here.

Okay, let me have a proud-Daddy moment. These are my four girls…

Give me just a second… (wipes tears from my eyes) …okay. Phew!

These four girls are the most important students that I will ever minister to in my life. Why? Because they are mine.

  • I never want them to feel like they are competing for my attention with the students in our ministry.
  • I never want them to feel like they don’t have a father because he’s always at the office or busy doing the “work of the ministry”.
  • I never want them to feel like they have to live up to some holier-than-thou standard just because I wear the title “pastor” in front of my name.

My dreams for them are as big as God. My desire is to see each one of them to live their lives to the fullest! And I want to be a BIG part of their lives… not just on the sidelines.

Is it a struggle to juggle an active, full-time student ministry with fatherhood? Yes. No question about it. That’s why my family has been and will continue to be a priority in my life. These girls are my treasures and a God-given heritage (Psalm 127:3).

It’s a conscious choice. Here’s a few things I’ve done up front to safeguard my relationship and time with my family:

  • I reserve time every evening for my family. A no-brainer… but I’ve seen too many youth workers do just the opposite (reserving time every evening for student ministry programming / hang-time instead (with disastrous results).
  • I talk publicly about how important family time is to me. How can people honor it if they don’t know it exists?
  • I practice the art of saying “no” when it comes to conflicts in my family calendar. Dates that are important to the family are more important than anything I can put on the youth calendar.
  • I do my best to plan ahead so I’m not having to spend late nights / weekends at the office. As they say, “Fail to plan… plan to fail.”

It may sound like I don’t care much about student ministry, but that’s really not the case at all. What I do at Elevate Student Ministries and the teenagers that I care for there are very close to my heart. My passion is there and I absolutely LOVE my calling and the church family I have the privilege of serving. I just don’t want it to take the place of my FIRST calling, which is my lovely wife and beautiful girls.

With careful planning and attention to what really matters most, I believe that I can excel — and even be excellent — at both callings: pastor and “Daddy”.


Shawn Michael

Husband, father, musician, pastor, Internet junkie, and Foursquare District NextGen Rep for the Gateway District