Those little monsters who terrorize the congregation with their out-of-control behavior. Those darling babies and toddlers who are smothered by the loving attention of the entire congregation, and for whom teenage girls compete as babysitters.
Those juvenile delinquents who run up and down the aisles of the church and treat the sacred buildings as their own personal playroom.
Those teenagers who look so angelic on Sunday and test their parents’ patience during the week, the subject of ten thousand stories in deacons’ homes, who exasperate the seniors in the church who are hoping for a little peace and quiet this Sunday.
They put the gray hairs in their preacher-dad’s head and the great stories into his sermons.
They put the lines in their mom’s brow and the thrill into her heart. They occupy the major portion of their parents’ prayers day and night.
God bless ’em. We love our PKs. Our preachers’ kids.
It’s the same today. In this fallen world, bringing children up in the fear and nurture of the Lord to become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ will not happen easily, naturally, or accidentally.
A pastor’s wife wrote. “You’ve written on what to say and what not to say to pastors and their spouses. But what about the pastors’ children? Say something to them.” This is a more complex subject. It’s much harder to get a handle on.
I need to confess I was never a PK. I’m a CMK, a coal miner’s kid. That’s about as far to the other end of the spectrum as one can get. The privileges are fewer, the circumstances vastly different, and the expectations considerably lower. But my three children are PKs. They know. God bless ’em.
My 10 thoughts to the sons and daughters of God-called ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
- You are blessed indeed.
You will have privileges and opportunities most children never have. You will be raised in church by the finest teachers and nurturers there are. You will go on trips with your family and church groups, and sometimes will stay in vacation homes your family could not afford in a lifetime but which are provided without cost by people who love you and your folks. So, I suggest you start by counting your blessings.
- You are indeed on display.
Sorry about that, but it’s just one of those facts of life. Your dad is going to use the story of something funny you said in a sermon, whether you find it embarrassing or not; it’s a preacher-thing. The adults will think it’s cute and they will turn in your direction and smile. Your friends will be embarrassed for you and will tease you. It’s been this way since year one.
People are watching you. But that’s not all bad. Remember the line from 2 Chronicles 16:9 that says, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is completely His.” So, He’s watching too, but not with an evil intent. He’s looking around to see whom to bless.
Likewise, church members who keep an eye on you almost all want you to do well. They are pulling for you. (And the ones who are not, well they don’t count.)
- You have an incredible team of supporters.
Now, I’m not naïve about these things. Not every church is healthy and not every congregation treats the pastor’s family honorably. But most really do want to get this right.
My three children had a host of adult leaders and encouragers to bless them, starting with the other staff ministers and including Sunday School teachers and choir leaders and chaperones. And they didn’t charge a dime for their services! Just like everyone else in church, they were there to bless in the name of Jesus.
- You are a sinner and will make mistakes, some more serious than others.
Romans 3:10 and 3:23 apply to you as well as the rest of us. No one (to my knowledge) expects you to be perfect. (Okay. Even if they do, they’re unrealistic and you should smile at them and go on. They’ll grow up.)So, cut yourself some slack, and don’t beat up on yourself, just go on to Number 5.
- You must come to know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. You must be born again.
Beware of having a second-hand religion. That is, trying to get to Heaven by the faith of your parents. You must be born again. God has no grandchildren, and no one is “grandfathered” into the Kingdom. You must be born again. Just as dad and mom cannot chew your food and think your thoughts, they cannot believe on the Lord Jesus for you. You must do this yourself. You must be born again.
- As a Christian, you must cultivate a daily relationship with Christ.
This means reading the Word daily and praying, confessing your sins, and bringing every area of your life under His Lordship.
The emphasis is on “daily.” Carve out a definite time and a specific place where you can pull aside and read the Word and pray quietly. And don’t be in too big a hurry. Learn to read and pray, then sit quietly for a bit. Have something to write on in case the Lord calls something to mind. Then read some more and pray more.
- Pray for your parents and expect them to be unreasonable sometimes.
Your friends find their parents to be exasperating at times, and there’s no reason to expect yours will be different. But the great test of your faithfulness is whether you will submit to them (read Ephesians 5:21) when you disagree.
It’s tough being a parent at any time. But for the pastor and his wife, the complexity and expectations are much higher. So, pray the Lord will give them wisdom and courage.
- Expect some folks in the congregation to be unloving or unkind.
By lowering your expectations, two things happen: a) You won’t be disappointed when someone is harsh or unloving, and b) you will appreciate those who are loving and generous and kind toward you and the family. But if you always expect everyone in church to be Christlike and understanding, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Always remember that anyone can join a church, no matter their mental health or maturity level. Churches attract all kinds of people. Wise parents will work hard to protect their children, but they cannot always do that. So, be prepared and don’t let the harshness of a few hurt you or hinder your own faithfulness.
Learn to love the unloving, and you will honor Christ, bless your own life, please your parents, and bear a strong witness.
- Seize the opportunities coming your way.
Let me tell you something I’ve noticed over the years. On various college campuses when I would do ministry to student groups, often the most talented singers and most confident leaders were PKs who had been brought up in small churches. Because their youth groups were small and their dads were the preacher, they inherited leadership roles more by default than by talent. But as they served, they grew in ability and confidence, and now when they find themselves on a large stage–on a campus with thousands of peers–they’re ready to lead.
My oldest son was a soloist in childhood musicals. As a teen he sang in the church youth choir. In college, he became a member of an elite vocal ensemble that traveled and represented the school. In adulthood, he has often been a soloist in church pageants. The first training he received in singing took place in the family automobile as we traveled to grandmas.
- Encourage other PKs you will meet along the way.
You will occasionally come across the offspring of ministers who are angry at churches where their fathers served and who have not been to church in years. “I still believe in God,” some will say. “But not in Christians.” You can help them. After all, you’ve been there to one extent or other. You know some of what they are feeling. Encourage them to keep their eyes on Jesus and to “do church,” not because people deserve it but because a) Christ commanded it and b) we need it. Pray for them, and don’t expect them to automatically change because of your words. But give them time and give the Lord room to work.
God bless you for your faithfulness.
By Joe McKeever, used by permission http://joemckeever.com/wp/