A few nights ago I had a conversation with my wife because our son was in a play that had some language in it (he didn’t have any lines). There were also a few suggestive ideas in the play. My wife asked me, “should this be a play that a Pastor’s Kid is in?” My response was there is no such thing as a pastor’s kid.
Being a pastor’s kid is challenging. The expectations are more than most people realize. Some people are waiting for you to mess up so they can say, “See, told you so.” Others see you make a mistake and they act as if this is a total shock that this should ever happen. What doesn’t help is your peers tend to view you with suspicion or with the expectation that you should know every answer to every Sunday school question. There are some benefits to being a pastor’s kid, but in general, the crushing burden that you feel from most people can be overwhelming. In my experience with being a pastor’s kid and knowing lots of them, the reaction to these expectations tends to create either rebels or Pharisees.
I was a Pharisee. This is still something I struggle with, I was a good kid that goodness led to pride until I failed to live up to the expectations that others had for me. Then my failures were both public and crushing. I strove so hard to be a good kid and not to embarrass my parents or the church that I ended up being a professional people pleaser. I don’t want that for my kids. I don’t want that for any pastor’s kids.
How as a church community do we help the children of our leaders not become rebels or Pharisees? How do I, as a pastor, raise my kids to love the church and cherish Christ?
Here are a few things I have learned the hard way:
1. There is no such thing as a “Pastor’s Kid.” Don’t put a label on a kid that scripture doesn’t give. You know what I’m talking about “Can you believe the “Pastor’s Kid” said “Sh***.” Yes, I can because kids everywhere say things they shouldn’t. There is no such thing in Scripture as a Pastor’s Kid. There is a requirement for me as a leader in the church to lead my house well. The responsibility is on me, as a Pastor, to lead my kids well not on my kids to act a certain way because they are a child of a pastor. The responsibility is on me to lead them well not on them to behave a certain way because of my title.
2. Find a church that believes your kids are sinners who need a Savior. What I love about our church is the people in Redeemer don’t see my kids as the special bread of Christian but rather as they are, sinners who need a savior. What the kids of the Pastor need is friends to love life with, leaders to point them to Jesus and intercessors to pray for them to fight the urge to run from the church or to find their identity in the church. In so many churches Pastor’s Kids have to live up to a higher standard or are they have their sin excused in the name of “a culture of honor.” If you are a member of a church, do your pastor a favor and see their kids as sinners and point them to Jesus over and over again.
3. Pastor, when you are going to the church, don’t say you are going to the church, say you are going to work. This may seem trivial, but I want my kids to blame me, not God, if I overwork. The tendency to get away with the sinful idolatry of your work is to over-spiritualize your work. The byproduct of this is devastating because kids blame God for your sinful desire to find your identity in what you do. Pastor, tell your kids you are going to work not to the church.
4. Don’t have a different expectation on your kids because they were raised in the church. The Bible is clear that we come to faith by grace through faith not by proximity. Every person that comes to faith is a walking miracle. We do not want God on our own, but God in his mercy saves all those who are his. He opens our eyes to see him and love him and live for him. Pastor your kids need that miraculous intervention of the Spirit of God as much as the people you faithful preach to each Sunday morning. Don’t expect them to be something they can not be apart from the grace and mercy of God alone.