Students are not my first ministry [Time Out]

Time Out quiet times for the youth worker's soulTime Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.

Over the next year, on the first Monday of the month (sorry, this month it came as the 2nd!), we’re going to be running a series within Time Out called, “Life Lessons,” by Jerry Schmoyer (Tim’s dad). Here’s a note from Jerry:

As I approach retirement age and look back on a lifetime of ministry I realize there are some important principles I have learned. I’d like to share some of these with you. I’m sure God is teaching you these same truths, but perhaps explaining them from my perspective can benefit you.

As I look back on my life, I have a perspective that many of you who are younger don’t have. My children are grown, most of them married and on their own. My impact on their life has largely been made. I thank God that He convicted me at the start of ministry of the importance of making my family my number one congregation. Others have come and gone but my family is still my family. There is no one I have had more influence on or ever will have more influence on than my children and my wife.

Jesus’ top priority while on earth was His “family” of disciples, not the crowds and not new programs and projects. He put them and their needs first, often withdrawing from the crowds or sending others away to spend time with the disciples. His pattern is ours to follow today. There is no one you will reproduce yourself in more completely than your children. And you will reproduce yourself in them, for good or for bad. You can’t abdicate, you will totally influence their lives. The only question is what the influence will be, not if you will have influence. Children are like soft clay which you are forming and molding into whatever image you choose. Even if you are too busy to be with them much, that forms an image of rejection and unimportance in them. You are forming them and will form them more than anyone else.

It’s it a shame that P.K.’s and M.K.’s often have a reputation for rebellion and disobedience. Whose fault is that? God Himself says that if we can’t manage our families then we can’t manage His church. Your children need you more than your church. It’s too bad we get our ego so wrapped up in our ministry and our “success” in the eyes of others that we miss what is most important. God gave us our children to disciple for Him. Nothing is more important! He will never lead us to neglect our children for the sake of other things. They are precious to Him and He entrusts them to us. He will never give us too much to do so that we don’t have time for them. That comes from wrong priorities.

My children are grown and mostly gone, but one of my greatest joys in life is watching them serve the Lord and follow Him. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 4). Each one of them has chosen to stay faithful to God and serve Him wholeheartedly. I take great pleasure in that, although I don’t take credit for it. That is between them and God and there are too many factors involved for me to think I did that. I can rest in the fact that, as far as I was able at the time, I did my best to love them and teach them about God. I certainly wasn’t perfect, and I did have responsibilities that demanded time and attention, but I always knew they were my number one priority and I greatly enjoyed raising them for the Lord. God gets the credit for how they turned out, but I am thankful I don’t have to live with too many regrets. As they say, no one on their death bed wishes they would have spent more time at work! Make sure this is right in your life now.


  1. 1 Timothy 3:4-5, “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)”
  2. Titus 1:6, “An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.”
  3. Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”


  • I’m sure you would agree and say your family is your number 1 priority, but what if you had to prove it? What hard proof can you present that shows you put your children before your ministry?
  • If your children would be old enough to talk (and perhaps they are) would they say that they know they come before your ministry?
  • Pray for each one individually, bringing their needs, their weaknesses and their futures before the Lord in prayer.

Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years. Yes, he’s also Tim’s dad.

Posted on July 11, 2011

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