Several years ago, I wrote a post at this blog on pastors’ children. According to the comments and the views, I obviously hit a nerve. Some of the comments came from pastors themselves. But a number of comments came from the children of pastors.
Since that article, I have continued to receive comments from children who grew up in pastors’ homes. There is a consistent theme going through many of their perspectives and emotions. Many of them had very positive experiences; but many did not.
Through hundreds of comments and conversations, I have been able to distill five things every child of a pastor would like to hear from his or her pastor/parent. Indeed, those who heard these five things consistently are those who have the healthiest attitudes toward the church today.
- You have the freedom to be a normal kid. “I don’t place different expectations on you because you are a PK. At times, you may feel pressure to act differently or be different because you are my child. Ignore those pressures. Know that I have none of those expectations, and you can live a normal and happy childhood.”
- I’ve got your back. “Yes, there are some ornery church members. In fact, some of them are just downright mean. You may hear negative things or be criticized personally. While I can’t change that, I will defend you. I won’t let a church member run over you. You always come before church members.”
- I want to spend more time with you than church members. “There will be times where you might think I care for church members more than I care for you. I will let a so-called emergency interrupt our meals or cancel our plans. I am trying to be more intentional about doing those things that communicate you are more important than church members. I want you to know that I really will spend more time with you.”
- I love your mom. “It can be tough at times to be a PK. And it can be tough to be a pastor’s wife as well. As I have said to you, I say to your mom. She comes before church activities and church members. I have her back as well. I love both of you so much, and I never want either of you to doubt that.”
- There is a lot of good in this church. “You are in a position where you often see the negative side of church life. You get a firsthand view of the critics and complainers. But there are many good people in this church. There are many church members who support our whole family. Don’t become cynical toward the church because of the negative voices you have to hear. Let me tell you about some of the good people and good things happening in our church.”
The pastor’s kid can be in a position to experience both the extreme highs and the extreme lows of local church ministry. And while the pastor is not totally responsible for how that child responds later in life, he can have a profound influence on him or her.
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on December 15, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and nine grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.