Can A Baby Solve Your Marriage Problems?

marriage-baby-1.jpgWe all long for community. We all long to be known and to know. When our relationship with our spouse begins to fracture, we look for solutions. We look for ways to fix the every widening gulf between our loved one and ourselves. And quite often, many settle on the idea of a child. “What is more intimate and more glorious than having a child” is the thought process. But it is correct?

At one level, the answer does seem plausible. Children are a blessing from the Lord. Psalm 127 makes this point abundantly clear. Having children in our homes is a very good and a very God thing. But are children the solution to our marital problems? Does their blessed nature help us overcome our lack of trust or poor communication issues? Will creating another life and building a relationship with that small person empower us to reshape our relationship with our spouse?

The answer to this question is, “No.” Children cannot restore or fix our marriage because they were not designed to be marital talismans or good luck charms. If anything, they are the opposites. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, children actually exacerbate martial tensions and stresses. The common idea that having a child will improve your already troubled marriage is at best a myth; and at worst, it is destructive and harmful.

Marriages struggle not because of children nor because of a lack of children. They struggle because men and women are putting their own needs and their own desires above their spouse’s needs and desires. They are selfishly deciding not to share about their day or about their recent success at work because they do not trust their spouse. They do not want to get hurt, so they withdraw from the intimacy of the marriage. Or perhaps, you have already been hurt by your spouse’s anger, cutting words, or neglect and you do not want to do the hard work of helping your spouse change. Regardless of the issue, the temptation to run to children is often nothing more than a distraction and escape. It is an attempt to fix deep spiritual and heart issues with physical things, i.e other people.

Having a child to fix your marriage would be like going on a cruise ship to cure your cancer. It may provide a brief rest from cancer, but the cancer remains. The disease will get stronger and will hurt you more and more. A child may briefly distract you from your conflict with your spouse, but eventually the arguments will come back. But now, you struggles occur within the frame work of sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, and the despair that comes from listening to a baby cry for hours upon hours.

Ultimately the marriage that is weak, broken, and defined by a lack of trust does not need more children. It needs more of Christ. Both spouses need to reengage Jesus. Instead of channeling their marriage through their sinful desires, they need to channel their marriage though Christ. They need to remember that Christ loved them long before they loved Christ (1 John 4:10). And they need to remember that they need to love their spouse regardless of what their spouse does. Love is not conditional. It is a free gift that we must daily work to extend.

All marriage problems have one source: our sinful hearts. As James 1:14-15 says,

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Our marriage problems are sins problems. And sin problems can only be fixed by refocusing on the heavenly dwelling of Christ. There is no other way. Kids will not make our marriages great again. Are you ready to deal with this reality?  Are you ready to do the hard work and get serious about your marriage issues?

5 Things Habits Of Effective Nursery Workers:

nursery-workers1. Listen To Your Leaders:

To be a great servant, we must be a great listener and doer. We must make every effort to listen to our pastor. If he ask us to arrive 15 minutes early, we make every effort to arrive on time. If our nursery director tells us not to pull out the blocks today, we follow her advice and leave the blocks put up. To be a great nursery worker, we must listen to and follow our leader’s directions.

2. Listen to the Parents:

To be a great nursery worker, we must listen to the parents. If they ask us to give junior a bottle at 9:15AM, we should do everything we can to give him the bottle then. If they ask us to get them quickly if their child will not stop crying, we go get them. If they tell us that little Sally will be fine, we let little Sally cry it out until it becomes obvious she needs mom or until her crying become so disruptive that the wellbeing of necessitates her removal. Again, we may not always agree with the parents. But if the child is not being harmed, we need to die to ourselves and our pride and listen to the child’s mom and dad. After all they (and not us) have been charged with caring for the child. We need to respect the parents. We should listen to them.

3. Listen to the Kids

When we come to nursery, we need to arrive with a kid focus; our goal should not be to catchup with the other adults in the room. Our mission should be to learn and to play with the kids in our room. We should talk to them about preschool. Learn about their favorite colors. Play dragons, farm, and restaurant with them. And if they are too small to talk, we should study the babies, seeing what makes them happy or upset. As we learn which babies like the swing and which ones like the bouncy seat, we will be better equipped to care for the children. And as the babies become happier, we demonstrate the love of Christ to both the little people and their parents. We show the onesie wearing souls that we love them. And we show the parents that we care about them enough to keep their kid happy so that they can make it through a sermon.

4. Talk To Your Leaders

After listening well, we should seek to speak well. We should seek to mention concerns and problems to our leaders. For example, our church has restroom signs above our restrooms because a nursery worker noticed that those signs were missing. All the rooms, had nice big signs jutting out from the wall. But the bathrooms did not. By speaking to me, he made our church better. No children’s pastor or nursery director can anticipate or catch every problem. By speaking well and with love, you can make your nursery and your church more welcoming, safe, and friendly. A good worker is willing to address concerns.

5. Talk To The Parents:

When parents come to the door to pick up their child, capture the moment. Tell them something their child did well. Brag about how well the slept or about how well they shared. My wife and I love hearing how our kids did in nursery. All parents do. And as we talk to the parents about their children, we begin to build relationships with them. We begin to lay a foundation from which to share the gospel or from which to talk about church membership. By reaching out to parents with hospitable speech we have a chance to make much of God.

There Are No Professional Kid’s Ministry Workers

no-professionalsIf we want to reach the children in our homes or at our church, we have to be with them. We have to spend time driving toy cars on the furniture, hosting tea-parties, and celebrating the good grades on their report cards. In short, we have to do life with these precious little souls.

There are no professional parents or professional kids’ ministry leaders. True and effective parenting and ministry happens via life on life. Organizing programs and showing up for Sunday morning services will not produce life change by themselves. Our Wednesday night programs are only worth the time and effort it takes to get them going each week when the Bible is being taught and relationships are being formed. Our programs should be laying a groundwork that is needed to facilitate communication, care, encouragement and reproof. Our activities are not the sum total of the Christian life.

This is the crux of New Testament ministry.

Think of the apostle Paul. He repeatedly encouraged believers, to “imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1, 4:6; Phil. 3:17; Phi. 4:9; 2 Thess. 3:9). The pastoral letters clearly indicate that Paul diligently taught people the word of God. He was a great preacher. But Paul did not just preach once a week and consider his job done. No. He lived with the people he taught. He invested in them. He heard about their messy and complicated lives and showed them how the Scriptures could answer all of their problems. Paul knew the people he ministered to.

To be effective parents and kids’ ministry teachers, we must do the same thing. We must know what make our kids tick. We need to listen to their concerns, celebrate their triumphs, and note their weaknesses. We need to learn their hearts.

Moreover, we need to model the Christian faith for our children. We need to depend on God, make much of our savior, and be quick to repent of our sins. If we hope to reach the next generation with the gospel, we must be able to legitimately call our kids to follow us as we follow Christ.

If our parenting and ministry never extends beyond a prefabbed lesson, if we protect ourselves from getting to close to others, and if we turn our faith on and off each Sunday, we will be able to do many things. We may have great programs, we may have huge budgets, and we may have grand feelings of accomplishment. But we will not have reached and discipled anyone. We will not have cultivated the very relationships that facilitate gospel growth.

You and me are by definition needy. Unfortunately, the same is true of our kids. We are all needy. Such is life until Christ returns! If we get to know our kids and invest in us needy people, we know what will happen. Those sweet kids and their families will begin to consume our time, our energy and our money. (And yes, we should install boundaries to protect our families and our own spiritual lives.) We must be willing to sacrifice our lunch hour, to answer a midnight phone calls, and to redirect our movie budget to the local mission center. How else will people see the gospel in action? How else can we call people to follow us as we follow Christ?