Anniversary Blog for My Parents: 43 Lessons They Taught Me About Ministry

There’s a lot of who I am that is certainly what God has shaped through His presence while using my own personality. And there’s also a tremendous amount of ministry philosophy and practics that were modeled by (IMO) the greatest ministry mentors a pastor could have: my parents.

Don’t get me wrong, as they’ll tell you, they are by no means the model of pastoral perfection (never met the “perfect pastor”), but their ability to stay humble and keep Christ at their center for 43 years is astounding.

Of the plethora of lessons I’ve learned from them, ministry has been a major theme they’ve mentored me in since they stepped into ministry in the mid 80’s.

Here’s one lesson they’ve taught me for every year they’ve been married:

  1. The recognition of what God is doing is greater than my need to be recognized.
  2. What people see on Sunday should be the spill-over of what is happening in my life throughout the week.
  3. Check your zipper before you step onto the platform.
  4. Ministry is a calling you live and not a job you attend (24/7).
  5. There is no ministry that is “too below me” to do.
  6. The Word is priority in your private life; you cannot draw out of a dry well.
  7. Longevity in your position is both a goal and a challenge.
  8. Jesus is our priority; the methods are not.
  9. Pulpits are built upon relationship and not on stages.
  10. Sermon illustrations that border on the ridiculous stick longer in the memory of the listener.
  11. A healthy church is a missions church.
  12. Authenticity isn’t an option.
  13. If you play a biblical character on stage, make sure your “tunic” is long enough to keep the production PG.
  14. Finding what brings you rest and recovery is of high priority.
  15. People will remember who you were more than what you preached.
  16. Ministry has the potential to be a lonely place; strive to live in community.
  17. Opening up a mic for people sharing stories at funerals can be a “powder keg.”
  18. What you expect in others, do yourself.
  19. Towels are more important than titles (referring to Jesus washing the feet of the disciples).
  20. You are husband first, dad second, and pastor third (in that order).
  21. You can never stop being teachable.
  22. Don’t sing/preach with a cough drop in your mouth in an effort keep your throat from getting dry. #ChokingMoments
  23. Expect the unexpected. Never say, “I’ve seen/heard it all” as something else will come your way that will take you off guard.
  24. If you don’t know how to laugh with people, you’re going to be a miserable person.
  25. The best messages birthed in prayer and illustrated from life experiences.
  26. Your integrity is relational currency.
  27. If you’re going to fault too far in anything, fault in generosity.
  28. Being asked to do a funeral is of the highest privilege.
  29. Crowns belong at the feet of Jesus and not upon our heads for people to see.
  30. Always say, “it’s a glorious ministry” because it doesn’t always feel that way.
  31. Your children’s events are of the greatest importance.
  32. Adaptability is a necessary skill-set as you will be asked/expected to do things you never were trained to do.
  33. Unity is of extreme importance as it brings the commanded blessing of God (Psalm 133).
  34. Nothing easy about pastoring. You will have moments where you will imagine yourself NOT in ministry.
  35. Close friends in ministry are of extreme importance.
  36. There’s no such thing as “part-time ministry” even though you are working “part-time” at the church.
  37. Be the type of pastor who is know for your encouragement instead of your criticism.
  38. Humility trumps pride. Be humble enough to admit shortcomings and mistakes.
  39. Comfort zones can constrain what God wants to do. Be willing to be stretched.
  40. Empowering others is better than doing everything yourself.
  41. Don’t limit “altars” to the front of the platform. Our response to a message goes beyond the church doors.
  42. See through people’s eyes before you judge their actions.
  43. Show the same level of forgiveness that Christ showed you.

To my parents, who are celebrating 43 years together, I say congrats.  I love you more than you’ll ever comprehend.

Thanks for letting me ramble for the past 40 years and 9 months…

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad: 42 lessons they taught me about parenting.

I often get asked about when my passion for marriage began. It began with my parents, Hal and Linda Barringer.  Watching their marriage not only made me want what they had, but shaped the marriage I have.  Don’t get me wrong, as they’ll tell you, they are by no means the model of perfection (ever seen my dad BBQ in shorts,  black socks, and dress shoes after church?), but their ability to stay humble and keep Christ at their center for 42 years is astounding.

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Of the plethora of lessons I’ve learned from them, parenting has been a major theme they’ve mentored me in.  Here’s one lesson they’ve taught me for every year they’ve been married. 

  1. Jesus is our true north.  Our family centers upon him. 
  2. Sometimes your just your presence will speak louder than anything. (They never missed a football game)
  3. Effort is always rewarded above accomplishment. 
  4. Love was never earned.
  5. Michigan NOT Michigan State.
  6. You can’t love your children the same.  You may love them the same amount but you show it different because they are different!
  7. Somehow, when the grandkids showed up, I’ve taken a backseat to them.
  8. Every moment can be a teachable moment. 
  9. Mom and dad NEVER sought to be my best friend. (I had enough friends…I needed parents.) 
  10. You can survive ANYTHING. (Their handling of the most devastating moment a parent could ever experience has profoundly changed me and countless others.) 1926778_10152316472773537_6248583889657699656_n
  11. Apologizing to your children for your human mistakes will make you a hero. 
  12. Homes should be a source of laughter.
  13. Be in the Word. (Worn out bibles were a common sight in the house.)
  14. Church isn’t optional for us as a family. (When the doors were opened, Kid’s Church or not, we were there.)
  15. Hard work is important to develop at the youngest of ages.
  16. It’s impossible to say “I’m proud of you” enough to your kids. 
  17. Having a reputation of being the only dad who’ll QB for the neighborhood kid’s football game is a cool thing to have.
  18. Serving your church community is what you do.  Be the first to volunteer.
  19. Don’t be naive about your children. (The words “my kid would never do that” didn’t come from their mouth. Because Rachael and I are human, they always knew we were capable of doing wrong.)
  20. Forgiveness is liberating.
  21. Your kids need to hear you pray over them in locations other than the dinner table. 
  22. Tithing wasn’t optional. My first 10% belonged to Jesus. 
  23. Lying can get your mouth washed out with soap.
  24. I can never give them too many grandkids. 
  25. Dad’s first ministry was to his wife.
  26. Sickness demanded prayer and anointing oil (from dad’s key chain). 
  27. Trying to steal a taste of turkey while dad is carving it without getting stabbed is a part of Thanksgiving.
  28. Phone calls with mom rarely end without an “I love you.” 
  29. The only future that mattered was that I was serving the Lord. (My vocation mattered less than my direction.)
  30. I’m not psychologically damaged because I was spanked. (If I had a “timeout,” it was after I was spanked.)
  31. Mom had more grace with report cards.  (It’s why dad made the rule that report cards came to him first.)
  32. Giving to missions wasn’t optional.
  33. They grew their marriage to outlast the kid’s time in the home.
  34. No human being exists that can out encourage mom and dad. 
  35. Dedication in the dictionary says, “See Hal and Linda Barringer.”
  36. Kids need to see their parents show affection to each other (verbal and physical). 
  37. Kids need to receive affection from their parents (verbal and physical). 
  38. Dad always stood in defense of mom to us.  (Talking back to her was never tolerated.)
  39. Humility means we step back and let God take the curtain call. 
  40. Don’t wait till tomorrow to spend time with your children.
  41. Crowns and accolades belong at the feet of Jesus.
  42. Live out a Romans 8 philosophy of parenting: I may disappoint my parents with my actions, but nothing I do as their child will stop them from loving me.

To my parents, who are celebrating 42 years together, I say congrats.  I love you more than you’ll ever comprehend. 

Thanks for letting me ramble for the past 39 years and 9 months…