I've written extensively about protecting the family in ministry.
My wife has occasionally guest posted about the unique role of the pastor's wife on this blog. Some of the comments I have received are well taken. I have been asked, basically, "What about the PKs? Who is looking out for them? Many disappear from the church as adults."
PK = Pastor's Kids.
I hear you. I have addressed the issue generally, as a family, but I haven't written extensively about protecting children in ministry.
I am aware, however, the issue of the commenter's concern. I'm blessed my PKs survived ministry well. Both of my boys are very active in the church. One works for a private company, but mostly in the Christian sector, and the other is in full-time ministry. I understand, however, this is a problem for many pastors and their families.
By the time some pastor's children reach adulthood, they are often done with church—actually they are more done with the busyness and politics of church—and they want little or nothing to do with it. So, they sit on the sidelines of ministry—if they attend church at all.
Honestly, as much as I have heard it talked about, at least within my circles of ministry, it is more rare than it is a norm for the pastor's children to not be active in church. I probably know more pastors who have children active in church than I know those who have children who have disappeared. I don't know the statistics—please share them in the comments if you do—but, if we could avoid damaging any child growing up in the ministry world I think we should.
That's the purpose of this post. And, it's addressed to the pastor and the church.
Here are seven suggestions for protecting your PK:
1. Level the expectations. Hold your children to Biblical standards. Train them well. Discipline appropriately. You hopefully teach it and you should parent what you teach. But, don't be surprised when your children aren't perfect. They aren't anymore than you are—or anyone else's children.
2. Let them be kids. Don't expect them to care as much about ministry as you do when they are—SEVEN or even seventeen. They might. Mine did to a certain extent—on certain days. And, then other days they just wanted to shoot basketballs in the church gym while I went on church visitation.
3. Live what you preach. If you want them to appreciate the ministry, let them see you, the pastor, as authentic. Authenticity means you are in private who you claim to be in public. And chances are good they are observing both. They'll respect you when you are equally transparent and honest with how you live your life on Sundays and through the week. And, the more they respect you—the more they can respect the ministry. Remember, their primary concept of ministry is you.
4. Protect your time at home. When you are home—be home. This is HUGE! Let voicemail and email inbox do their thing. Put down the computer. Say no to outside interruptions. There will always be exceptions in the role of a pastor, but they should be rare, not commonplace. The children need to know you value your time with your spouse and them even more than your time with others.
5. Be their parent more than their pastor. You may be their pastor, but first they need a parent. I actually found others on staff, or even pastor friends in other churches, were sometimes better at being their pastor anyway. No one could replace my role as parent.
6. Give them roles as they desire. My boys helped launch a youth group. They led at camps. They worked with children and preschoolers. But, I never forced it. I let them serve where they wanted to serve. Interestingly, when the idea was theirs, they seemed more likely to want to be involved.
7. Let them do ministry with you. My boys went to committee meetings. Staff meetings. Visitations. I took my boys on mission trips. Unless it was a highly confidential meeting for the parties involved, I gave them access to my calendar. They got to appreciate what I do as a pastor—not resent it because I wasn't home. Again, this was voluntary not mandatory.
Someone is wondering why I didn't put anything about my personal walk with Christ as one of the points. Well, hopefully this is understood in the role of a pastor and a believer. But yes, of course.
Consider it understood this is number one for every question of how to do ministry effectively. Your children will likely never grow stronger in their faith than you are modeling for them.
Pastors—or even better, PKs—is there anything else you'd recommend?
Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.
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