For years I felt the pull and the pressure to have the big ministry, travel the world or even, as many of my family and friends would often declare, “become famous.” In the early stages of ministry and discovering our gifting or the little treasures the Lord places way deep down inside, there is often a pressure to have something to show for it. Like, “What are we going to do to be great? How can little ol’ me make a big impact?”
What happens in our hearts and minds, and unfortunately in our immature actions, is we often look to the outside. We compare ourselves to what we think “success” looks like. We find great people who have impacted our lives in either a direct or indirect way and we say, “Yes! That is what I’m supposed to do!” And then instead of seeking the Lord, we start making their lives our target.
I think in the kindness and mercy of the Lord, as we begin to spin our wheels in this direction, He allows the gas to run out, until all we are left with is our little broken hearts and big broken plans and His kind, patient, ever-present Spirit. And then He whispers.
When Ryan and I got married almost 12 years ago, there was still so much of that stuff on the inside of both of us. I call it, “confusing the target.” It’s truly innocent or immature most of the time. It’s affected by our culture and our friendships, the media and just that age-old human nature fighting for our “place in the world.” I remember after we got married, so many weaknesses and so much immaturity began to rise to the surface. Areas of selfish ambition that I didn’t even know were still alive came kicking and screaming to the surface.
Then came our first baby, and our second, two miscarriages, and our third. And over the course of those seven childbearing years, something incredible happened. Everything that felt super complicated and hard and often confusing and exhausting about “my spot in the world,” “my destiny,” “my calling” … all of it just washed away like an ocean wave after it breaks upon the shore. As the water is receding, the contents of what was underneath become beautifully clear.
Suddenly my greatest calling in life, the most important task in front of me, my primary ministry wasn’t found out there, it was found in this little tribe that does life right alongside me every day. If I can’t give account before the Lord for their hearts that He entrusted to me to lead, then how can I go about fighting for this global message of revival and great awakening, worship and intimacy with Jesus?
Family is where the rubber meets the road, friends. Family is the tool the Lord uses to pull all of those selfish ambitions kicking and screaming to the surface. Family is where we work out our faith with fear and trembling. Family is where revival begins … and family is how revival will stand … how it will last.
You see it’s not that complicated anymore. The question is: Who is right in front of you? Are you ministering to them? Are you reaching for Jesus with them? Are you demonstrating the power of His great love or the simplicity of His humble heart by the way you are living right in front of them? Don’t get me wrong … I jack this up all the time! Mostly because it’s so simple that I mistake its significance and underestimate its weight. Could God really be inviting us to cultivate revival in our homes and families before we see it manifest in the body of Christ as a whole?
If it’s true when He says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you” (Matt 6:33), I truly believe that fleshes out first in our own hearts before Him, second in the authenticity of our marriage and covenant, and third in the stewardship and cultivating of our children’s hearts. If we flow out of this place then all the other “things”—ministry, calling, destiny, message, impact—those will be given.
We have to start to steward our families with as much or more zeal than our ministries. They are our ministry. The first one ever entrusted to us. And it matters, friends. It matters to the Lord. It matters for the church. It matters for the lost. Family matters.
All of creation started with families. All of history and eternity comes down to family. Our marriages and our households were meant to be a living testimony, a reflection, a pointing to His great family, and instead we keep neglecting the treasure that’s been right in front of us the whole time, while we go out to love on Christ’s behalf. Going out isn’t wrong, but we can’t put the cart before the horse. The Lord desires to set the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6). Let’s prepare that ground with Him. Let’s put our homes in order. Let’s cultivate the land that was entrusted to us. Let’s get back to family.
Ryan and Nina Landis serve the body of Christ through itinerant ministry and strengthening worship and prayer communities across the nation. They have been honored to partner and run with IHOP-KC, The Call, Convergence HOP and many other powerful ministries. Together they have pastored for over seven years and been instrumental in building up and establishing a generation to release a sound that will usher in His kingdom for over 13 years.