Colton Wickramaratne is the Elder Statesman of the Evangelical Church in Sri Lanka. This was given at his fiftieth wedding anniversary in 2005
I am very happy to be given the honour of speaking at a key event in the life of a couple I greatly admire.
I have been telling their sons Eran and Dishan that we must publish in a book Pastor Colton’s and Sr. Susanne’s views on family life.
I know that they are not going to write it,
but I was hoping that someone would interview them and
publish what they say.
There are many people who say that
when the parents sacrifice for others and live lives of service,
the children resent it and
rebel against the ministry and
the God that their parents dedicated themselves to.
They give many examples of this.
But the family of Pastor Colton and Sr. Susanne challenges this idea.
Their children are excited about God and are committed sacrificially to the ministry.
What are the keys that help nurture children of ministers who are excited about the ministry?
- In Christianity
God gives us the charge to love and care for
those for whom we have a primary responsibility.
Our children are among those.
And the Bible, especially the Old Testament, gives us a lot of instructions on
how parents are to care for our children.
The Bible explains how parents should instruct their children about the ways of God (Deut. 4:9-10; 11:19-20; Eph. 6:4),
how they must manage their households (1 Tim. 3:4-5)
and how they must discipline the children (Prov. 23:13-14).
Those instructions apply to both ordained ministers and lay people.
It is not wrong to work hard and make sacrifices in the service of other people.
But it is wrong to do so in a way that the children get the idea that
they are not important to their parents.
Doing both of these things is hard.
But obviously this couple seems to have done that.
The children will speak of many trials they experienced,
but they will not say that their parents neglected them.
- There is another reason why I think children of ministers get angry with the ministry.
When one of the parents is upset about the ministry of the other,
the children often resent this ministry.
Often pastors neglect nurturing and ministering to their wives.
The wives are excited about the ministry when they get married
but with time they get upset about ministry.
They start grumbling about ministry and
the children sense that their mother is unhappy about their father’s ministry.
They see the ministry as the cause of unhappiness in the family.
So they develop negative attitudes towards the ministry
and the God who called their father to ministry.
The Bible presents a godly home as a happy place.
It speaks of children having meals in the presence of God and rejoicing (Deut. 14:26).
Joy is a very important theme in the Bible.
Christians are commanded to be joyful always (Phil. 4:4).
Of course, this is rejoicing in the Lord. Jesus gives us ample reason to be happy.
And the Bible says that this joy is our strength (Neh. 8:10).
Happiness is the greatest treasure a home can have.
People go crazy searching for things like money and position,
and they think that if they have those things they will be happy and satisfied.
But we humans are too exalted to be happy with things.
We were made in the image of God.
Only the happiness that God gives will truly satisfy.
People are looking all over for this, but they are looking in the wrong place.
If we follow God’s principles
we may not have many things that the world considers important.
We may have to give up a lot of those things.
But we have joy—which is what the world wants more than anything else.
If children of Christian workers grow up in a happy home,
they will grow up to be contented individuals.
Their home gave them the most important treasure in life.
So they won’t be angry about their home and about the vocation of their parents.
I believe that the Wickrameratne home was a happy home.
So their children have not given up the things that their parents valued most.
I hope that the example of Pastor Colton and Sister Susanne
will challenge us to have happy homes.
If we follow God’s principles to the fullest, one of the results is happiness!