Here’s what a typical Sunday morning looks like in the Rowe household. Before we make it to our meeting, there is breakfast and forced hair brushing. The corps is only a two-minute drive away, but a lot can happen in those two minutes, including, but not limited to: fighting, hitting, crying and complaining. When we get to church, somebody interrupts worship practice, refuses to stay still, rolls a monster truck across the mercy seat, or finds other creative ways to disobey or embarrass Mommy and Daddy.

Life with these boys of mine is beautiful chaos, but when the chaos happens during a Sunday meeting, it often leaves me feeling defeated and unworthy as a parent.

Christian leadership is hard.

Then I open my Bible and read the “qualifications for overseers and deacons” in 1 Timothy 3, and I want to hide in a corner. The Apostle Paul is basically saying if you want to lead in the church, then you’ve got to have your kids and household in order. Thanks, Paul.

I adore that The Salvation Army believes every person has a role and gifts to offer. As officers, we have specific roles and responsibilities, but we know we are a “priesthood of all believers,” who are all given beautiful and specific roles within the body of Christ, and we are all called to go and make disciples. Although we may not all hold the title of “officer,” “overseer” or  “deacon,” we can still benefit from understanding what this verse means. Especially if you are like me, and your default emotion is shame and blaming yourself for your children’s behaviour.

After studying this verse, here’s what I know it doesn’t mean:

  • Your children will never misbehave.
  • Your children will be like those creepy old dolls that just stare blankly and nod politely at everything.
  • That your children’s disobedience is a direct result of your poor parenting.
  • That you don’t need the Holy Spirit’s presence and power to help you get through those hard days.

Take a deep breath. You’re a good parent. You will have bad days. Thank goodness for grace!

But don’t breathe too deeply, because here’s the thing: one of the most important lessons we can learn from Paul’s letter to Timothy is that home is extremely important. Home is the training ground for the battlefield; it’s the place where our obedience to the Lord is first demonstrated and we should never outsource or underplay the job. We must disciple our kids and help them learn the rhythms of a Jesus-centred life.

So, if Paul is saying the home is extremely important and we need to “manage our children and household well,” but we also know that kids are born sinners (if you don’t believe that, hang around a two-year-old for two minutes) and we can’t expect constant perfection, where does that leave us?

Our lives and leadership ability are not measured by the behaviour of our kids, but they are measured by the fruit we bear. The kind of fruit we are cultivating in our kids is directly correlated to how seriously we take our jobs at home. My kids will one day learn to sit still in church and not announce they need to pee while Daddy’s praying, but they may not learn true obedience to God and desire to die to self and live in Christ unless I model that behaviour myself.

And if I am not growing in my obedience, dying to self and cultivating fruit in my own life, I have no business leading others to do the same.

So, what Paul is saying to those of us who lead—and every person who claims Christ—is this: home is important, and our kids reflect what is happening at home. But as Christians, we also need to recognize that our kids will rebel, and ask ourselves this question: is the rebellion because of the parents or in spite of their job as parents?

Our kids will embarrass us—a lot. That’s normal. But our responsibility in our homes is connected to what we do outside of the home. Dig those roots down deep. Water and weed them. And rely on the Holy Spirit as you care for these beautiful, borrowed, loud, messy and precious children of God.

Captain Bhreagh Rowe is the community ministries officer, St. Albert Church and Community Centre, Alta.

Photo: makam1969/


On Thursday, October 26, 2023, Pauline Saunders said:

Great article 💕

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