I have two kids. My wife has three. ( I hope you get that joke.) I love my kids. They are great. They are sinners. But they’re my kids, what should I expect? I have one that’s all boy and one that’s all girl. My son fishes, hunts, and plays anything with a ball. My daughter collects dolls, plays piano and loves the arts. Both have committed their lives to Christ. I do think they love Jesus. We pray with our kids everyday. We encourage them to live for the glory of the Lord. I see fruit in their lives.
I am at times pretty tough on my kids. Now don’t get me wrong. They know their dad is an idiot. I embarrass the family often in public.Intentionally. They used to like it a lot more than they do now. They are growing up, I’m not. But my wife and I are tough when we need to be. We have rules and expectations. They know what is expected of them. They know the consequences of disobedience.
But I am afraid that many in the church have higher expectations of my children than I do. It’s been something that has bothered me as my children have gotten older. Too often the children of a pastor or staff person in a church have a bulls eye painted on them. I’m not sure where this comes from, but there is no doubt in my mind that it’s there. My kids could start a pretty good twitter account underneath “The Unappreciated Pastor’s Kid”. They have some stories. They don’t tweet. They do enjoy my tweets. And for the record my son would start that account I just mentioned, but my wife won’t let him. So today I’m going to say what they might say.
You were surprised the pastor’s kids weren’t at the sunrise service? We were surprised yours weren’t at the altar. Kids are not on staff. They do not have to be at every single thing the church does. The truth is that if we teach our kids that godliness= busyness, we are not helping them at all. Usually ministry kids attend church more than any other kid at the church already. If it’s not a regular service of the church, sometimes I give my kids a break. I give them a choice. Come if you want, stay home if you like. It is a reality that some of the kids that attend every function at church are living ungodly lives. Our kids know that. They understand that merely coming to events doesn’t get them any closer to Christ. Church members should not try and make ministry kids feel guilty because they don’t attend every single event the church calendars.
You think my dad’s a great pastor? That’s not what your kids said. No one sees hypocrisy like kids. And I think ministry kids have a view like no one else does. Kid’s talk. They don’t have much of a filter. Often ministry kids hear things about their parents that hurt. They hear “My dad said your dad…” or “My mom said your dad…” I could not imagine being in that situation. As ministry leaders ,we often talk about what we keep our kids from hearing about church life . Sometimes I wonder what our kids spare us from. If you don’t like the pastor/ministry leader, odds are their kids know you don’t. Don’t play the hypocrite in front of them. They will read you like a book.
Your compliments don’t have to have hashtags. It seems that when someone compliments the child of a ministry leader, there is a pause and then the dreaded hashtag “But his/her dad’s a preacher…” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this. I try to ignore it. Let me give you an example. My kids make straight A’s. Someone says “But their dad’s a preacher!” That one blows me away. I want to say “You’re right. My kids don’t have to study at all. When they make a mistake on their paper the teacher grades it in the blood of Jesus. The mistake is washed away and it is as if they had never made that mistake at all!” When my kids do well it is not because I am a pastor. It is ultimately because of the grace of God. But it is also because they have studied, prepared and worked hard. If you want to compliment a ministry kid, don’t qualify the compliment!
Tell your kids thanks for the Christmas card. I would, but they don’t talk to me. We all get those photo Christmas cards in the mail. It has the whole family on it. It’s addressed from their family to ours. The kids even signed their name. It’s cheesy, but it’s also kind of insulting too. Ministry kids are sometimes isolated. They are often new in the church. It’s hard to fit in. Lots of times they get left out, often completely ignored. They even become a target for insults or bullying. Then at Christmas time a picture of the kids that don’t even like them gets posted on their fridge. That’s tough. It’s just another example of hypocrisy. Church members should teach their kids that the ministry is a tough place to be and that respect should be given to ministry kids.
I could go on with this. I know that their are some ministry kids that are a bad example. I don’t need a lecture on that. That wasn’t the point of this blog. I think we should understand that kids are kids. Give them a break. I determined a long time ago that I would not use my kids to appease church members. And pastors let us never say to our kids “I can’t believe you did that! I’m the pastor, what will people think?” What a horrible message to send our kids. What a self centered message. I want my kids to live for Christ. I don’t want them to live for me. I hope that’s the message I’m sending them. Their job is not to make me look good. Their job is not to make the church look good. It’s to glorify the Lord. Let’s make that clear to our kids and our churches.