Balancing Missions & Family

familyboxHow can we balance our passion for missions with our hearts for our homes? Do we have to choose between “raising our kids” and “reaching the lost”—or is it possible to do both?

As parents, we’re called to raise our kids; and as Christians, we’re called to reach the lost. We really can’t fulfill one of these callings, if we choose to neglect the other.

As I was writing The Mission-Minded Family, I felt especially led to evaluate the homes and family-lives of well-known missionaries. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to realize that many missionary heroes with families were not heroes of the family. Some of the most prominent names in mission history had horrible problems at home; while other leaders (such as William and Catherine Booth of the Salvation Army or Hudson and Maria Taylor) found a powerful ministry-family balance.

As I began to delve deeper into these examples, I searched for clues and common-denominators for those godly world-changing leaders who had God-glorifying homes. And I believe I found the key. It’s PRAYER. The men and women of God who focused primarily on seeking the Lord and their personal devotion to Him (rather than focusing on a merely a successful ministry) seemed to find God’s divine balance for each day. As a result, not only did their ministries glorify God, but their families did as well.

Author and international minister Dr. David Shibley says, “The normal Christian life is anything but balanced, as popularly defined . . . The normal Christian life is high risk and high joy. The normal Christian life releases the temporal to embrace the eternal . . . God is not calling us to win the world and, in the process, lose our families. But I have known those who so enshrined family life and were so protective of “quality time” that the children never saw the kind of consuming love that made their parents’ faith attractive to them. Some have lost their children, not because they weren’t at their soccer games or didn’t take family vacations, but because they never transmitted a loyalty to Jesus that went deep enough to interrupt personal preferences.”

I want my family to have that kind of consuming love, with high risk and high joy. I want to live out my faith in a way that is not only attractive, but also compelling and irresistible! I want to be moved by the passions of God’s heart—and for my kids to take these godly passions to a deeper level. I want to hand off the baton to my descendants, and have them run faster and farther than I ever did.

Let’s raise our kids; let’s reach the lost; and let’s challenge the next generation to live for God with even greater boldness, wisdom, and effectiveness. Through Christ, all things are possible.


11 Responses to “Balancing Missions & Family”
  1. Anthony says:

    Dear Ann, I am so encouraged by your wisdom and biblical insight. I am the senior pastor of a growing church, and our primary focus is reaching the un-churched and the poor, hungry and disenfranchised (the “un-desirables”) in our community. Recently, my wife an I hit a big wall. We seem to be unable to agree on what is the “right” or “biblical” thing to do as a family when it comes to offering our resources to those who need them. For example, with kids in the house, do we open our home to needy strangers and the inherent risks that come with it, or do we only engage in ministry that we think would be “safe” for our family? As a father, I know it is my job to protect and provide for my wife and children, but as a believer I feel Jesus is calling me to set aside comfort and safety, trusting in Him. Where is the balance? I would be very interested to get your thoughts on this issue. Thank you so very much!

  2. Blessings to you, Laurel!

    The important thing is that we live each day, and each season, to fully please the LORD (and not strive to please people, or worry about what others think about us). It’s definitely not a cut-and-dry solution. It’s constantly keeping IN TUNE with God’s divine balance for each day. There’s also the flip side of the coin; many families care only about the loved ones around their own kitchen table, and don’t care about the lost.

    God knows your heart, and He will direct you and Jim, and your precious dozen kids!!!


  3. Laurel says:

    Hi Ann,

    Just re-read this post and it so encouraged me that what Jim and I keep having to say and do is from the Lord. As you know, this is Jim’s first year in full-time ministry. We are struggling with the fact that the church has a lot of expectations of the “pastor’s wife”, and not much understanding of my commitment to my 12 children. So sad.

    A few months ago I reminded Jim of so many early missionaries and how they sacrificed their families “for the work of the Lord”. I told him that I did not believe that was what we were supposed to do. 🙂 Jim has had to work very hard to find a balance (and set boundaries) so that the work of the church does not become more important that the work of his family. Not always easy.

    Just wanted to stop by and say, “hi”. Hope you all are doing well. Miss your smiling face.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    Laurel 🙂

  4. Oh, Blessings to you Beth, and to your husband Brett, and to your 3 kiddos!!!

    I will definitely come to “meet” you and your family on your blog and in your videos), and pray for the Lord’s continued and increased blessings, provision, grace, and JOY . . . for all of you . . . for this new season of ministry in Thailand.

    He will be your strength and help, just keep your focus on HIM!!!

    So delighted to be your friend!

  5. Beth Clark says:

    Dear Ann,

    I was thrilled to read your response. Thank you for taking the time to do so! It’s very encouraging. We’re on the Thailand countdown and are getting very excited for the work God has called us to do! I covet the prayers, especially those specifically being lifted for our kids!! Here are their names and ages:
    Aiden (7 year old, daughter)
    Niah (5 year old, daughter)
    Adley (3 year old, son)

    My husband, Brett, and I have no idea what to pray for at this time, we’re just seeking God and praying! Thank you for the faithful prayers!

    Our blog site is We have posted 2 videos of the work we’ve been doing, stateside-and you can meet our family (I always love putting names with faces so this will give you a chance to meet all of us via computer:-) 🙂 Each video is on the blog. We’ll have another video coming out sometime this month before our departure and then we’ll be posting video blogs from the “fields”.

    I loved what you said about GRACE and will hold on to those words as we prepare for even more of a life change! I will definitely keep in touch and will continue using this site as a tool in our walk! I will also faithfully pray for you, your family and this awesome ministry!

    Much love and peace!

    Beth Clark

  6. Dear Beth,

    WOW!!! WOW!!! WOW!!!

    May the Lord extend an increased level of GRACE upon you and your husband, and upon your three little children as you embark on this new journey and adventure of faith.

    Please continue to keep in touch, and if you could send your family names (including the names of your kids), I would love to get some people specifically praying for you.

    I definitely can’t promise you that your steps will be easy, or without sacrifice . . . or tears . . . or huge challenges; but I CAN promise you that OUR GOD is faithful. He DOES have GRACE for you (GRACE, as in the supernatural-and-undeserved-and-unearned ABILITY and PROVISION to do whatever He is calling you to do). He WILL be with you. He WILL have new mercies and new grace and help available for you, for each day . . . and for each challenge . . . and each relationship . . . and each need.

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful encouragement; I feel humbled that this site and the MM books had a little part in your sending process. WOW.

    ABUNDANT blessings and GRACE to you dear sister,

  7. Beth Clark says:

    Mrs Dunagan,

    I have been following your website for almost a year now and have wanted to tell you how much your ministry is impacting my family! My husband and I answered “the call” to full time missionary work a year ago. We’re currently in training and will be moving to Southeast Asia, along with our 3 young children (7, 5 and 3) in July of this year. We’re being sent by our Church with a team of 16 total. It’s a very exciting and humbling time, but as I”m sure you can understand, a time full of many unknowns. My greatest challenge has been preparing our kids. They’ve had a lot of change in this past year, and my husband and I have made a commitment to help them see that this is OUR FAMILIES calling, not just Mom and Dad’s. We’ve also committed to make them understand that they’re not second b/c we’ve been called into full time ministry. Still, the struggle with this is very challenging. I’ve purchased The Mission Minded Child and have learned SO much. I just can’t thank you enough for offering your experience and wisdom. Your site is used daily, as have many of your other resources, in our household and I just wanted to thank you for obediently walking out the calling God has placed in your life. I’m inspired and encouraged and feel more equipped after spending time learning from you! God has SO much to teach us and prepare us for!! I LOVED this post b/c my husband and I are always searching for the balance. Thank you for all you do and know I pray for you and your ministry often!!
    For Christ!
    Beth Clark

  8. Nikki says:

    Thanks for this insight. I too have wondered how to have that “unattainable balance” that people speak of. And I love the “high risk, high joy” comment! Doing foster care in many christians eyes is high risk, but we see the joy involved and can’t help but take in the children God delivers to our house!!
    .-= Nikki´s last blog ..No Stress Chess =-.

  9. Thanks Cassie!!! And we’re happy to congratulate you for winning the prize . . . you made the very FIRST comment on our brand-new Harvest Ministry site. Thanks so much! YAY!!!

  10. Cassie says:

    the new website is fantastic!!! My favorite part (of course) is all the photos!!!!!!! i’m putting a link on my blog… much love Dunagans!!!!


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] … Christian Life Skills: The Jesus prayer. Pray without ceasing. New Testament Challenge and …Balancing Missions & Family | Harvest MinistryHow can we balance our passion for missions with our hearts for our homes? Do we have to choose […]