We are just like you.
We've spent a lot of time in different churches. We've been the pastors family and the youth pastors family. In many ways both of these positions come with unfair expectations and as the wife, I'd love to share some thoughts about that.
First, while we know we've been called to serve God full time, it is not fair to think that we can live life perfectly. We don't have perfect kids, because we aren't perfect. We don't always know how to train and discipline them. We are doing our best to follow God's example but we are flawed people and so are our kids. Please don't place them on pedestals of perfection. They are learning to follow Christ just as we are. They will make plenty of mistakes, as you and I do. They need to see love and grace from you as well as their Savior.
We aren't always ok with making whatever salary is presented. We have dreams of going on amazing vacations and building our dream homes too. We want to see our kids enjoying sports and activities and hanging out with their friends. Yet, too often we watch as the people in our congregation do these things. Sometime the way we get to “travel and see the world” is through mission trips, often with a whole mess of students. No, that’s not a vacation. And while in the corporate world it's acceptable to ask for more salary and go for bigger positions, in ministry pastors are seen as greedy for doing that. We agree to lesser salaries (especially in Youth Ministry). And while we know ultimately that God will supply all of our needs, it doesn't mean we don't long to have more than our needs met, just like you.
We don't handle life's curveballs perfectly. We have to walk through the stages of grief and loss just like you do. That's scary and uncertain for us too. Yet somehow we're expected to get over it faster and "trust God will work it for His good". While we do believe that, it's not always easy to live that out joyfully among trials. We need grace and mercy, love and friendship just like you do. Life changes of any kind,(moving, loss, financial strain) are not easy for us either.
We are often placed in communities without our families. We haven’t lived near our families since we were married. Yet, we watch as families in the church gather for the holidays, and have big joyful celebrations. Meanwhile, most pastors end up working most holidays, unable to travel home, leaving us to celebrate alone. We've been called to live in your communities and want to be a part of your lives, so don’t be afraid to invite us in or give us time to go home.
When we are called to serve a different congregation it's not because we don't love the one we're in. In fact for us, it's been quite the opposite every time. We have loved deeply and are saddened to leave the family God has called us to serve. It takes time to adjust and it always amazes us how quickly we are forgotten by those congregations. No matter how long we serve and love, remember that our love was real and it hurts when we have to move on and we're accused of a slew of untrue reasons for why we left.
It's not ok to tell us criticisms about our spouse and how they perform their job. You see we are doing our best to love them well and we are fully aware of their flaws (we live with them!). We don't need you to point out anymore. You don't need to be the "Holy Spirit" to them, they often are their own worst critics and we as their spouses aren't far behind. Instead, pray for them and look for ways to encourage and build them up. I promise, they will be more effective if they feel supported and encouraged rather then constantly criticized.
Our goal is to serve and love you well. Keep in mind that we are average people called by God to do His work. We have feelings and needs just like you. Please be sensitive to that and know that we are doing the best we can, just like you.
Do your kids have a smartphone? I'm guessing they do.
In March of 2013, the Pew Internet & American Life Project, said that "78 percent of young people, ages 12 to 17, now have cellphones. Nearly half of those are smartphones, a share that's increasing steadily..." as reported by the Huff Post, Tech page, in the March 12 post titled, "Teenagers Increasingly Use Smartphones To Access The Web: Report"
As I work with students, the one thing I find is that most of them have a smartphone. But my question is, how often are your as a parent checking what your kids are doing with their phone?
The capabilities of the smartphone are almost endless as manufacturers discover new advancements in technology. With every release of a new phone, another huge step forward is taken. Like wise, mobile apps exist for just about everything. And if it doesn't exist now, it will tomorrow.
The smartphone is a great tool, when used wisely. But left to the natural devices of the teenage mind, the smartphone can be just a dangerous as an unmonitored computer. With powerful browsing capabilities and the internet access at their figure tips, you can search and view just about anything and everything on the web.
As parents, you should know what is on your child's phone. From the contacts in their address book, to the apps they downloaded, to the sites they visit, you should be aware of everything and everywhere the phone goes. And just as you would check the browsing history on you desktop, you should be checking the browsing history on your child's smartphone.
Not too long ago I was asked by a friend of mine who is a parent. She was concerned with how our child was using his phone, and was looking for suggestions. I shared with her these 4 thoughts.
1. Be the law. As the parent, you have full freedom to inspect, confiscate, and control iPods and iPhones and their usage. Randomly take an iPod and inspect the history, cache, and memory of the device.
2. Connect All devices to one cloud account. In our home, all mobile devices are connected to my cloud. It's one account that I control. This way, all devices are connected and I can keep tabs on everything that is downloaded.
3. Download with Approval. Nothing gets downloaded without parental permission. To help monitor that, you can set up to iPhone and iPad so that whatever is download from the App store downloads right to my devices. I always know when something is being downloaded. Beyond that, my kids, know that they have to ask permission before downloading anything.
4. Set the restrictions. In the settings menu there is a restrictions tab. You will find it under the general button. Here you can set the parameters for the device. It is password protected so you can set it up and your kids can't change it. You can disable the wifi, the safari browser, installing and deleting of apps, adjust content ratings, active location services, and manage the FaceTime and camera setting. If you haven't started using the restrictions feature, you need to.
Be a proactive parent. Know what your kids are doing when they are on their mobile devices. Police where they've been and where the go. There's nothing wrong with checking up and knowing what their doing online. Because, whether you realize it or not, someone else probably is.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Share what you do and how you handle the issue of smartphones and internet usage with your kids. Got a couple of good ideas, post them for others to read and use. And as always, thanks for reading!
- the higham family
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.