Family, First. Ministry, Second.
People used to ask me, “What’s it like being a pastor’s kid (PK)”? I thought this was the craziest question EVER. I mean, what’s it like being a plumber’s kid, or a lawyer’s kid? What was the difference? I was clueless. I mean, it was just a job, right?
You see, I not only am a pastor’s kid: I am a pastor’s niece, a pastor’s sister, a pastor’s cousin…Pastors. Everywhere! It’s all I have ever known. To me, being a PK was great! My dad was in charge as the lead pastor. That gave me confidence! We were blessed with being at an amazing church in Mustang, OK from the time I was two years old and he is still there today. Sure, it had its rough moments. It’s amazing how many people think they know how you should behave, what you should wear, where you should hang out at, or what movies you shouldn’t watch. Comments of those topics came to me often. However, the boundaries my parents had for my brother and I made those comments fall right to the floor. Now that my husband and I are pastors, I see how blessed we truly were.
Looking back now that I’m in ministry with two amazing kiddos, I realize I was oblivious to the fact that my parents were FABULOUS about keeping the pressure off me and my older brother. Life was good! I loved being a preacher’s daughter! However, now that I’m raising ministry kids, I’ve noticed the pressure on my kids.
My daughter was starting to feel stressed by the pressure of having to be the “perfect friend” at church. It was exhausting being the “bigger person.” There was a parent who would push her children on on my son because he was the “pastor’s kid”. He should be their role model. Ohhhhhh, goodness. Even as I am writing, this momma is feeling the burn!
Our kids in ministry have one duty…BE A KID. They have to learn to love Jesus, obey, learn from achievements, and learn from mistakes just like everyone else, yet they get to do it in the “public eye.” Goody.
We saw the pressure getting to them. So we prayed. What did my parents do to ensure that I still love Jesus and not hate ministry? How can we raise our children to fear the Lord and not fear crazy Christians? Here are a few things we discovered.
WE ARE CALLED TO MINISTRY; OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT.
We must realize that our calling is what God told us to do. Putting that on a child would be irresponsible. What does this mean?
*Going to a senior adults dinner may not make them excited.
*Teaching them to serve others is ok. Demanding it constantly is not.
Church should bring them life, not strife.
Mom or Dad missing something important to them in the name of ministry is wounding. I can’t remember a single time that ministry came before me growing up. My parents were invested in my brother and me.
In our home now, we have decided that all things “church” are movable (barring a death…and sometimes that won’t even move us). If they have a talent show and there is a board meeting, the meeting is moved. If they have a game and there is a women’s event at church, it will be an event without the pastor’s wife. Need a “churchy” reason to accept this mindset? The church needs to see family values from the leader. This is mandatory for our staff. If we see they came to work and skipped Field Day, they will hear about it…and may even get shot with a Nerf gun.
Kids can tell what is valuable by watching. Want to see what you value? Look at your calendar.
Kids can tell what is valuable by watching.
DON’T BLAME “THE CHURCH” FOR YOUR DECISIONS.
Saying “no” because you are afraid of what “the church” may think might need rethinking.
This takes some creativity. Find another way to explain “no.” For example, my daughter has friends who attend a local church. Instead of saying, “No, you can’t go because your dad’s the pastor,” we say, “What about your church friends?” When they make the decision, they are empowered by it. Once we did agree to let her go, she decided she would rather not. Daddy’s job had nothing to do with it.
Find another way to explain “no.”
ALLOW YOUR CHILDREN TO WORK IN THEIR OWN GIFTS.
My son is a rapper. Rap is not the most loved music…especially by our senior citizens. However, we decided that we want to cultivate the gifts God has given to our children and allow them a place to use those gifts for the Lord. They must find their own identity in Christ and “blow it up.” (This is me trying to sound cool since my son is a rapper. Word.)
They must find their own identity in Christ.
LET YOUR KIDS KNOW YOU ARE THEIR DEFENDER.
When that parent was breathing down my son’s neck, I allowed him to see me stick up for him. I asked her kindly to not speak to my son without me present. I explained that she is her children’s role model. My son is NOT responsible for her children. She didn’t like it. She’s not at our church anymore…and that’s ok. My son knows I have his back and the pressure is off him to be perfect.
One thing I remember my dad doing more than once is announcing from the pulpit that my brother and I are not their children’s role models. I remember how that made me feel protected and safe. I could be me…My daddy said so!
PROTECT THEM FROM YOUR STRESS.
It wasn’t until we were in full-time ministry ourselves that I learned how stressful ministry can really be. My parents never spoke about “church issues” in front of us. I never knew if they were hurt. They didn’t allow their pain to become our pain.
This is something we strive for in our home. If my children ever turned their back on God or even “the church” because of my pain, that would cause more heartbreak than any momentary church issue.
LET THEM HAVE SOME PERKS!
I always thought being the “PK” was fun! Everyone knew who I was. I was trusted quickly. I got picked to do fun things at the church. It had its perks, and yes, many of them were because I was the pastor’s daughter…which came with some ridicule from some of my peers.
So, when I started raising my kids, I decided they were going to be treated like everyone else. Well, that didn’t last long! I quickly realized there are many things for our kids that aren't perks: like waiting for your Dad to finish a counseling session so the family can eat lunch while eating the extra communion wafers to hold you over (gag), or having to go to Tuesday night prayer for hours on end. At some point, there needed to be a reward. So I lowered the moratorium on “perks” and now we celebrate them! I literally point them out at times so they can see that being the PK isn’t all bad. It comes with its blessings as well.
Parenting is a daily learning curve. Parenting amazing kids in ministry is an honor! Having been a ministry kid and now raising ministry kids has truly been a highlight of my life. We aren’t perfect parents, Lord bless ‘em. And even with all these “rules,” nothing can take the place of:
Let’s pray for our kids daily. Let them hear you pray for them.
Then, let’s pray with our kids daily. It can be uncomfortable at first, but it becomes a time that is bonding and powerful.
Never underestimate the power of prayer!
Shara Taylor and her husband Jason have served in full-time ministry for over 18 years, with 10 years most recently as Lead Pastors at Faith Assembly in Cypress, TX. They have two wonderful children who are their life and joy. Their passion is to lead northwest Houston into a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ, and together they use innovative ways to share God's love. Jason and Shara love to laugh and have a good time in everything they do. Shara recently completed her certification to become a life coach through Lifeforming Leadership Coaching and is in the process of launching a new ministry that encompasses her unique ability to encourage, speak joy, and lead others into genuine worship.