Brian Berry is a youth worker and author of the just-released book, As for Me and My [Crazy] House from Group Publishing and Simply Youth Ministry. Brian was kind enough to answer a few questions for the blog!
Tell us about your new book, As for Me and My [Crazy] House!
It’s a book that flows from my everyday crazy life. I’m just your average guy who is sincerely trying to follow Jesus, love his wife, and raise his kids to love Jesus in the midst of being a full-time youth pastor. I’ve been a youth pastor in 2 churches for a total of 18 years and I’ve been married for about that same amount of time. I’m also parenting 5 kids: a freshman, 6th grade, and 4th grade sons along with 3rd grade twins: a son and the only daughter of our family.
Several years ago I felt like God spoke to me as I was praying for my marriage and I wrote down three sentences that flowed from that experience. This book is built around them, each taking up about a 1/3 of the book. They are:
the best gift I can give my marriage is a healthy me.
the best gift I can give my kids is a healthy marriage.
the best gift I can give my ministry and community is a healthy family.
What is your favorite story from the book? Were there any stories cut or deemed too far over the line?
Here’s one from the second chapter that still makes me laugh: “When our boys were little, they found great joy in naked running. No, we didn’t raise them in a nudist colony, but that didn’t stop them from running naked wherever they could. Change a diaper without a new one ready to go, and they’d likely break free running naked. Give them a bath, get mostly dry, and sprinting naked would often ensue. They evidently found great joy and laughter in the hilarity of naked feet slapping the floor and unrestricted movement of clothing-
free moments. We often would joke and call out ‘NAKED PARADE’ as they went by laughing. We even have a child who, if you sent him to the bathroom, would strip naked to poop. We called him the Naked Pooper. Thankfully, he only did this at home.”
Um, lots of stories were cut to keep the thing at a level I’d be willing to read myself. As for too far over the line… sure, but if I printed it here I’d be in trouble too Take me out for coffee and we’ll swap ridiculous stories.
That’s awesome – you’re on for coffee. Have you got a failure story from parenting just to prove you’re human?
A few months ago at Christmas we were shopping in the mall. We decided to stop and go to dinner. After we were done, we headed to the bookstore next door. We were in there for a good 15 minutes when this random lady walks up to us and says, “Hey, did I see you guys eating next door?” We said, “Yes, that was us.” Then she said, “Um, I think you left your daughter in there and she’s confused and crying.” We looked around and much to our horror, discovered Becky wasn’t with us. She’d gone to the bathroom and we left without her. Now, every time she goes to the bathroom at a restaurant she makes everyone at the table tell her we won’t leave without her before she’ll go.
I recently wanted to take my kids with me to Mexico to serve with our high school team and I had all 4 boys in my truck. I met the students and leaders at church and then discovered I had miscounted and I was 1 seat short. So I had to call my wife to come and get one of my kids. I won the loser dad of the year award that day.
do I need to go on?… this is getting painful.
Hahhaah … OK. So what would you say to the youth worker who doesn’t have a family yet, but wants to prepare for one well?
Rock on. Being married and raising kids is awesome and a joy. But it’s hard. Maybe the hardest thing you’ll ever try and do.
Getting married or having a kid will change your life, it just won’t change you. If you have trouble saying no or keeping your priorities straight between marriage and ministry now, a family will only compound the problem, not solve it. I honestly believe that the best gift you can give to your marriage and even to your kids is a healthy you. It all starts there. So take a good long look in the mirror, invite God to speak, and keep working on being the man or woman of God you’ve been created to be. Then when a spouse or kids are added to the mix, they’ll be so stoked you are who you are… most of the time
What is the key to balancing a great youth ministry life and a great family life?
Honestly, there is no key… or at least I haven’t found it. And if you read this book you’ll find out I actually think balance is a myth that we should rethink all together.
So to that end, I don’t have all the answers nor can I guarantee success. I don’t know how to do that and I’m not sure God even grants us that. But I can tell you I’m in the trenches with you in this. So I guess I’d say: take care of your soul, love your spouse, be a parent, and be a youth worker. In that order. That’s the road I’m on, and the only one I know how to write about and share with you. My conviction is that its also the path that has the greatest chance of landing myself, my marriage, my family, and my ministry in the will of God.
Thanks, Brian! And you can pick up Me and My Crazy House today!