"You know what they say about preachers' kids!" What? What do they say? And who are "they" anyway? Whoever "they" are, they better not say anything about PKs in my presence. I'll give them reason to add preacher's wives to their list of judgments. Not that they would need my help in adding to that list, because those people, who our children tend to upset, have a list a mile long and know everything there is to know about everything anyway! Can I get an "Amen"? "Come on, there's a preacher in the house" is what I can hear my African-American sisters saying right now.
Whether our children are a year old or 100 years old, they will make us proud, but they will also disappoint us and others — and they will do it whether they grow up in a parsonage or not! Kids will be kids, whether their folks are ditch-diggers or preachers. So, no matter what you do to raise the standard in their lives, reminding them that they are a "preacher's kids" and they are to be an example, you better be ready to accept the fact that they will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ the same way other children do. Personally, and often after great hardships due to poor choices, but most assuredly, not simply because they were born into a preacher's family!
The fact that they are the product of a mother and father who people expect perfection from is not their fault, nor does it become their obligation to maintain this unnatural facade in order keep everyone thinking that they are angels who do not fall into temptation the way "other children" do. This is not only unfair, but it is also unhealthy for your child.
You will do well to allow your church family to see the real deal. Don't "put on airs" or pretend to be perfect. The more perfect you pretend to be, the more you will disappoint people who are expecting you to live up to your standard of perfection. In other words, the greater the performance, the greater the disappointment!
This is true for you and, once you understand the freedom of it, the more valuable this attitude is to your success in ministry. But this is even MORE TRUE for your kids! Putting pressure on them to perform perfectly to protect the ministry will only cause them to resent the ministry. To allow the opinions of others to carry so much weight that when confronted with your child's misbehaving, you treat him or her with contempt and disdain because of your pride or the fear of lost reputation, is to allow an even greater the damage to your child.
No amount of expectation on their lives, or strict rules and regulations designed to protect the "family reputation," is going to change the fact that they are just as human as any other red-blooded youngster.
I'm not saying they do not need correction, but I'm saying they do not need MORE correction than any other child, just because their folks happen to be in the ministry. I'm not saying they do not need rules and regulations, but I am saying that they do not need MORE rules and regulations that any other child, just because they are a "preacher's kids."
Our two boys, Jeremy (now 28) and Chad (now 24), have spent most of their lives in the ministry. They are not perfect and we never expected them to be. I think, because we never expected perfection of them, those around us didn't either. Grace and mercy were just as available for them as for other children in our church. We instructed them, guided them, corrected them and loved them through all of their good choices and not-so-good choices.
The fact that they were PKs was never a factor in our expectations, our disciplines or our guidelines. They appreciated that. In fact, I believe they appreciated it so much that they wanted desperately to honor us and our ministry together. It was their ministry, too! All that we have accomplished, we accomplished together, and they knew it. They loved the ministry because we loved the ministry and they loved us and they knew we loved them. They always came first. Because of that, I believe the "law was written on their hearts." We didn't have to hold it over their heads or remind them of their responsibility. We didn't allow the opinions of others to matter in our home. Not then, and not now.
Both of our boys are in full-time ministry with us today — Jeremy as the youth pastor, Chad as the office administrator. Both are called. Both are gifted. And both are still growing in their walk with God. Both are still dearly loved by their parents who "happen" to be in the ministry. Still not perfect, and still not expected to be!
"I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father" (2 John 1:4).
Ever feel like you wear a mask to cover up who you are as a pastor's kid? Do you feel like you have to hide the real you? Growing up in a minister's home, I felt like I was always smiling through the pain or putting on an attitude to please the people of my father's church — but not necessarily my God.
You can't stop gossip from circulating, but you can take steps to protect your family from the damage.
I wasn't sure how the words would come. I had been awake all night, trying to figure out how I was going to explain to my parents the thoughts that were running through my brain.