When I first started as a House Parent, I was thrilled to be a part of such an incredible ministry. I felt honored God would give give someone like me a chance to play such a vital role in so many lives. It did not take me long to realize this was to be my life’s work, and passion.
However, I was still lost in my image of what a man should be. Like most men, my identity came from my occupation and what I did for a living. Up to that point I could swagger into any social setting of guys and tell them I was a soldier, or truck driver. No one could question my manliness with such gunho occupations. In other words, my fragile ego was secure.
When I first got hired on in Maryland at a facility I went to a bank nearby to open a bank account. When I came to the part that asks for your occupation I put “Counselor”. To my ego it was a direct challenge to who I was, what I believed and what I wanted others to think about me. I loved my job and the kids, but I had a hard time imagining chilling with the homeys at the next BBQ and explain to them I was a House Parent- A guy that stays home all day watching kids. A far cry from grinding gears on a semi or playing rambo in some far flung country.
I had a lack of conviction for my ministry. More importantly I was ashamed of telling my family and friends I was one of those Christians that “heard” a calling from the spirit. In the crowd I ran with people that got religion were freaks. The fact that I worked 18 hour days really did not impress them much.
A friend at the facility I worked at helped me with this issue. He sat down and read this verse to me;
2 Tim 1:8-10 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy lifeâ€”not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
I realized I was trying to live my life as two separate persons. I began to realize that I did sell out to Christ, I was bought and paid for. My life as a House Parent was WAY more hard core than anything I had done in the past. In the space of two years at that facility I watched close to twenty people, who were supposedly called, come and go.
I spent close to 18 hours a day doing paper work, cooking meals, counseling, running errands, restraints (rough facility) and cleaning. I patched enough drywall to make Bob Villa jealous. I had to research and build my own alarm system to keep ahead of the kids. I had to work on the house van twice a week just keep it running.
I learned how to counsel. Suicide attempts, hospital runs, sexual incidents, contra-band and fights. That was an average week there.
I witnessed what “Trench warfare ministry” was. Believe me, prisons and group homes are about as gnarley as it gets when you are fighting for someones soul.
Life has calmed down a bit for me these days. I work at a much calmer facility. Through the years I have learned better techniques for keeping the peace and have the peace of mind of having this network at my disposal for advice, job opportunity’s and research.
Most importantly, I am not ashamed. Not of Christ, and not of what he has called me to do. I am a House Parent. Whatever we are calling ourselves these days; Family Teacher, Teaching Parent or House Parent remember we live and work in a medium that only the truly hard core last. So bring it.- Launch