This week I’m excited to share Karen Whiting’s wise words about understanding the call to serve as we bridge the gap between this month’s focus on parenting and next month’s focus on flourishing in work.

How to Flourish when Mommy or Daddy Serves in the Military

by Karen Whiting

“Why does daddy have to be in the military? Can’t he just get a job here and come home every night?” How could I explain my husband’s choice that meant separations, long hours, and a different lifestyle from my son’s friends? I suggested we look at a few things.

We checked out seat belts, brakes, and turn signals in the car and chatted about how all of those items help keep us safe. Inside we looked at the circuit breaker, door locks, and safety catches on appliances.

I said, “We have things to help keep us safe. Our country needs to be safe too. Daddy and others serve in the military to keep our country safe.”

Understanding the Call to Serve

Then I said, “God calls us all to follow him and serve him. For some people that means a call to be a soldier or a sailor.” I read a Bible passage about a centurion Jesus spoke to and helped. Jesus praised that man for his faith. The man understood leadership and the ability Jesus had as a leader.

My son asked, “Did Jesus ask daddy to serve?”

I replied, “Daddy prayed and believes God called him to serve. It’s not just a job. He cares about our flag and our country. He wants us to be free to worship Jesus and make choices.”

My son said, “I like having choices and I like our church. Daddy made a good choice. It’s okay if he needs to work to keep us safe.”

It’s not always easy to live with someone serving. The whole family sacrifices. When I watch the chaos and rebellion in many countries, I’m reminded commitment takes courage and continual work. We have to follow through every day. For me, I have to daily tell God I am willing to serve him and also daily thank God my spouse is willing to serve him and my country. My husband trusts that God has directed his path and decision. I clung to the Scriptures that guided him:

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24 NASB)

I wanted to make the calling more real to our son, so I gathered photos, double-sided tape and a poster board plus art supplies. We made a collage on poster board of Daddy serving in the military and serving with his faith. He decorated it with some tiny flags and drew a cross at the top. My son hung the poster in his room.

How To Respond to Your Child’s Tough Questions about the Call to Serve

  1. Listen attentively to the words and ask questions to clarify what they want to know.
  2. Pray for ideas on how to answer.
  3. If possible, use objects to illustrate the answer.
  4. If you don’t have an answer, be honest and discuss the question posed.

Verses related to callings and how military people are blessed to be peacemakers.

I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations…” (Isaiah 42:6 NASB)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9 NASB)

Meet Karen

Karen Whiting’s late husband served in the US Coast Guard for 22 years. Her son Michael served in the US Air Force, her son-in-law Larry served in the US Army, and her father served in the Army-Air Corps that became the US AF during WW2. Her family has many who served as far back as the American Revolution.

Karen is an author of 26 books including 52 Weekly Devotions for Families Called to Serve.