Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
~ Charles Swindoll
I don’t know about you, but I want the memories I leave in my child’s memory bank to be ones that lead her to Jesus. It is my hope that our daughter, Crosstyn, will look back on memories with fondness. However, it is my main goal that she will see them as pivotal moments that built and strengthened her foundation in Christ.
Raising a child to love and be like Jesus is tough. Doing it in the ministry spotlight is even tougher. I know this firsthand as the mother of a preacher's kid (PK). However, that is not my only experience. I’m a PK myself, so ministry is all I’ve ever known.
Growing up in a pastor’s home, for me, was like a glass house. It seemed everything my sister and I did was under the scrutiny of others. If we messed up, it always seemed to make it to the forefront, even if others were involved.
During those crucial teenage years, my family underwent an ugly church situation. It was such a time of brokenness for us. Our dinner table had always been a place where we shared lots of laughter. However, during this season, I remember so many tears being spilled. It was at this time that my parents decided the spiritual health of my sister and I mattered more than ministry. This is a lesson I will never forget. They made the tough decision to step out in faith, without jobs, to relocate us so we could heal.
I was a sophomore in high school when we relocated. I struggled with unforgiveness of people who supposedly loved God. My parents were working long hours, struggling to make ends meet and, because of this, I spent a lot of time at home by myself. It was in those moments that I battled thoughts of "how could 'church' people be like this?". In the 8th grade, I knew God had called me into full-time ministry. But by this time, I wanted nothing to do with it. Why would I want to raise children in a ministry home with this kind of pressure? In my mind, no way, no how!
Why would I want to raise children in a ministry home with this kind of pressure?
Obviously, God worked in my heart. It was during this time of healing that I truly learned the lesson of forgiveness. The church family we joined helped with the restoration of my life. God put individuals in my path that helped restore my thinking. God helped me see through them that there are truly Godly people. It was through their lives that I saw the love of Christ lived out day to day. God also helped me realize how much I have to keep my eyes on Him and not man, because they will mess up and fail. God never fails! I was also able to observe crucial parenting lessons from my parents that have helped shape how my husband I raise our own child in ministry.
As a ministry wife I know you’ve heard sad stories of how preacher’s kids don’t end up loving Jesus in the end. It is sad and yes, that does happen, but not to all of us. I have numerous friends who were raised in a minister’s home where there were hurts, but they still love Jesus and actively serve him whether in full-time ministry or in secular jobs. It is totally possible to make positive deposits into your child’s spiritual and physical memory banks that will impact them spiritually for a lifetime.
There were some specific things I picked up from my parents that my husband and I have implemented into our parenting style. It is my belief that these lessons are vital in raising PK’s that will still love Jesus, even when they’re grown.
If you lose them and gain the whole world, you’ve gained nothing. Your kids have to be your priority, not just for you as the mom, but also for the dad. How they see their father often shapes their view of God the Father. It’s important that he is a present figure in their lives. My parents showed my sister and I how important we were when they stepped out of the ministry for healing. However, both of my parents made it a point to be at every one of my events and were actively involved in my life. My dad tucked me in every night up until the night before my wedding. This was our daddy-daughter time together. It’s these type of things that fill my memory bank.
Allow them to be themselves. You set the tone for what is acceptable for your family, not your congregation. There will always be expectations, many times unrealistic, that are put on you and your family by other people. Don’t let others shape your kids or your family. It’s God’s job to mold your family and kids into all He wants you to be.
Allow your kids to make mistakes. No one is perfect. Anyone expecting perfection has unrealistic expectations. Your kids are going to make mistakes. When they do, love them through it and extend grace to them just like your Heavenly Father does to you.
Make meal times a priority. I remember times around the dinner table as a child. We had time to talk about our day and connect as a family. There’s just something about having a meal together that creates great bonding. Make this time a priority by putting your phones away, not answering calls, etc. Be present! As the great missionary Mark Buntain once said, “wherever you are, be ALL there.”
Involve your kids in the ministry. When I was growing up it was never just dad and mom’s ministry. It was OUR ministry. My parents took my sister and I to places with them. We went on hospital calls, we learned how to pray with and for people, we helped clean up after events, we were taught to serve. My parents modeled it for us. Sure at times it was a burden, but more often, it was a gift. My parents helped me to learn to love God and people by involving me in what they were doing.
These five key things, coupled with prayer and love can make a huge impact on your kids. I’m living proof.
My husband and I want our daughter, even at a young age, to know she is the most important person to us, even when we’re at church. However, she also has to know we have a role to play, a job to do. Even as a toddler, when Crosstyn would interrupt conversations, we taught her to put her hand on our arms. She learned from us that, as we touched hers, we were acknowledging her and in turn letting her know that she was the most important person in the room. She also learned that our touch in return indicated we would be with her as soon as we could and take care of whatever she needed. It’s a little thing, but our daughter still does this gesture. We are now able to pat her hand or hold it on our arms so she knows how precious she is to us. This small lesson used through the years has let Crosstyn know how valuable she is to her daddy and me. Our kids must know that, next to God and our spouses, they are the most important in our hearts and lives.
Ministry is hard, yet rewarding, just like raising kids. God has entrusted your kids to you because He knew you could raise them in your calling and help shape them for theirs. Don’t let the stories you hear discourage you. God has a divine path for your kid and you play an intricate part in his or her story. Each of our kids are world-changers in the making, on loan from God to us because He knew He could entrust you with this precious gift.
Point your kids in the right direction; when they’re old they won’t be lost.
-Proverbs 22:6 MSG
Michelle Rice is blessed to have been married to her best friend, Ray, for almost 19 years. During that time they have served in some form of ministry together from youth, church planting and currently connections pastors at Real Life Church in Houston, TX. Their 9-year-old daughter, Crosstyn, is their bright spot. Michelle works full-time as an elementary school principal in Cypress Fairbanks ISD. She is passionate about her family, helping people realize their God-potential and being a change agent in public education. When she is able to find free time she loves to travel, read and run.
This entry is WEEK ONE in our October series, The PK Perspective: Tales from the Front Pew. Click >>here<< to read WEEK TWO.