Growing up with parents who were ministers didn’t feel much different than most of my friends. I felt like we were pretty normal. Normal for “preachers”. That’s what my parents were known as--“the preachers”.
My parents have been traveling ministers my entire life--except for the two years they pastored in Muskogee, OK when I was ages 4 and 5, and right now, as they are pastoring in Austin, TX. My dad spoke nearly every weekend and sometimes during the week for revivals in churches all over the country and out of the country, but yet I felt like he was always at home with us, too. It wasn’t until my college age years that I realized just how much my dad traveled. Even though he traveled almost every weekend, and my mom with him a lot of times, it didn’t feel like that. When he was home, he was HOME. He was present. At every ball game, every recital, every big event. He was there.
My parents let us know that we were the most important part of their lives.
At the ages of 9 and 12 my parents moved me and my brother to Kiev, Ukraine. Those were very crucial times in our adolescent lives as far as school, sports, and friendships were concerned. But if you ask my brother or me what our best memories are of growing up, we will both answer that living in Ukraine was the most exciting time of our lives. We didn’t grow up mad that our parents traveled all of the time, or bitter at the ministry for taking our parents away. We both love the ministry. So much so that my brother runs my parents' local ministry office and is actively involved in his church (he even volunteers in the nursery!) and my husband and I are on staff as Executive Pastors at our church and have been in full-time ministry together for 13 years.
Looking back I can’t recall a time that I ever heard my parents speak negatively of the ministry. They never bad-mouthed preachers or any church. Being in the ministry myself, I can imagine that they had encountered some negative experiences but they never shared them with us or discussed them in front of us. We didn’t grow up with a bad taste in our mouth about full-time ministry. They protected us in that sense but they didn’t keep us from the ministry. We didn’t get to stay home on Wednesday nights because we had been at church all weekend or, better yet, skip Wednesday church for practice (GASP!). For us, all of the extracurricular activities stayed just that--extra. Church was our thing and that’s just how it was. If we were sick, we went to church to be healed. If we spent the night with a friend on a Saturday night, we were expected to be at church the next morning and we better bring the bulletin and our detailed notes home to prove it. We were right there with my parents in ministry, attending church on the regular and we have both lived to tell about it with fond memories.
Now that I have my own children to raise while being in full-time ministry with my husband, I have a new respect for my mother. HOW DID SHE DO IT? All of the services and prayer meetings and “pot-faith” dinners with two small children? And stayed in small hotel rooms for days, sometimes weeks at a time, with us. That alone makes my eyes cross. So, when I find myself feeling badly for my kids that they have to sit through another meeting, service, or Christmas production, or because they are the last ones picked up from kids' church and almost always the first ones dropped off (mainly so I can have a social life in the lobby kid-free), I remember that I, too, was a PK (pastor's kid), MK (missionary kid), and an EK (evangelist's kid). I’m not perfect, but I’m not bitter or scarred. Instead, I have the fondest memories of traveling with my parents and being involved in their ministry. And although my parents were very busy, they were right there with us, always in our corner cheering us on.
I’m not perfect, but I’m not bitter or scarred.
My prayer is that my kids, even though they may scream, cry, and kick when I make them be in the Easter Production at church because I was asked to be Mary and they (literally) don’t stop crying about it for weeks, they will look back and remember how much fun we had serving Jesus and loving people together.
Ministry isn’t just our occupation or something we just do. Ministry is who we are.
Diary of a Preacher's Kid is Entry One of Sanctuary's blog series, Parenting from the Front Pew. What struggles have you encountered in raising children with the challenges that ministry can bring to the preacher's family?
Natalie Morris and her husband, Eric, currently serve as Executive Pastors at Victory City Church in Austin, TX. They've been married for thirteen years, but Natalie has been involved in full-time ministry for fifteen. The fourth generation of ministry in her own family, Natalie's involvement in ministry at different churches, in different roles, and under different types of pastors and leaders has shaped her overall philosophy of ministry. In her free time, Natalie enjoys the outdoors with her four children (Ella, Winston, Josephine, and Malcolm), going to the movies with her hubby, and eating chips and salsa. Her greatest passion in ministry is to see people find their place in the local church while discovering their God-given gifts and abilities. Natalie is the daughter of Sanctuary team member, Pam King, and husband, Jim.