How Ministry Changed After I Had a Child

Even if we had wanted to be pregnant we would have felt inadequate; our post-honeymoon ‘”accident” only amplified that feeling. How could I be a decent pastor, father, homeowner, and husband with less than a year of marriage folded into my head? Here are three things God taught me – straight from the crucible of having my beautiful daughter.


More than anything else I learned that God was sovereign. Our unplanned and accidental pregnancy was neither to God. We found and purchased a home within two months. Our parents’ initial shock at the news turned into giddy gift-giving and shower-organizing.  The creeping horror of inevitable parenthood turned into pregnant, joyful expectation. Not only was God sovereign, God also protected us from being bitter of his sovereignty by providing every needed thing.

And as it turns out, God is sovereign over both conception and student ministry. So what if our mission trip got rained out and the t-shirts had a misprint? God rules and reigns over every typo and all the unseasonable weather. If he could be my ballast on October 5th at 10:55pm, he could keep me floating when our bus driver bailed. If God could get me to love changing diapers, he could get me through a failed Spring Break mission trip. 


A second lesson I learned was something I did not expect. When I became a Dad I was much more patient with my students. I still loose my temper occasionally. And some of my students can still frustrate me, more than I should allow. But, I think there might be something about waking up at 2, 4, and 6am that spades out the patience from God’s garden into mine. There is something about the smell of a diseased smelling diaper; and the tragic event of: “no-more-coffee” that makes hearing your name repeatedly phrased as a question (Or the worse: “Something happened in the boy’s bathroom.”) a little more manageable. 


The final encouragement was a renewed perspective of my own sanctification. It would be easy to chalk these epiphanies up on my student ministry tally board as evidence of my increasing maturity. And while we are at it, a justification for higher pay since – you know – “I survived the first year”. However, that would be lying. I am not more patient because I survived a trial by fire. I am not more trusting in God’s sovereignty because I overcame an unexpected pregnancy.

I am more patient, and I am more trusting because God graciously disciplined me. Parenting did not make me a better youth pastor, but it was the means by which God made me a better Christian. The weight of my in-laws expectations, homeownership, a new marriage, being a first-time pastor, and father crushed me against the rock of Christ. And the Holy Spirit was faithful to resurrect me to a newness of parental and student ministry life that I had not yet been granted access to. All the brownie points I could give myself are actually all in Him.

Seth Stewart is a husband and a dad, and after a decade in student ministry is now working as the Editor-in-Chief at Spoken Gospel. Spoken Gospel creates online resources that point to Jesus from every passage of Scripture. Seth spends his day writing, speaking, and being his family's chef.

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