“To put it bluntly, a lot of pastors’ children hate the ministry. My team interviewed 20 pastors’ kids who are adults now. They provided some insights that were both inspiring and disturbing.
Children with a pastor-parent can grow to hate the ministry for many reasons, but there are five guaranteed ways you can make sure they hate being a pastor’s kid (PK).”
So begins Ed Stetzer’s recent post, 5 Ways to Teach Your Children to Hate the Ministry. He lists the five ways with some serious substance behind each, including poignant quotes from PKs.
1. Put the ministry before your family.
2. Tell them how much is expected of them as a pastor’s kid.
3. Tell them about church conflicts as often as possible.
4. Look godlier at church than when you are at home.
5. Act more like a live-in, full-time pastor at home, rather than a parent
Stetzer heads a team of research professionals, and they are good at what they do. So I’m sure this list represents more than a decent sample size and is entirely accurate. Truthfully, though, I don’t care much about the research. I care that it feels true from my own observations and experiences as a PK. I know lots of PKs. I corresponded with dozens while writing my book, and I heard story after story reflecting these same five points.
What was even more remarkable to me, though, was how many PKs loved the church despite the shortcomings of their parents. My expectation was to find piles of jaded, angry PKs who had put the church behind them and never checked the rear view mirror. And there were plenty. Just as often, though, I found PKs who were serving in their church or are now pastors themselves. Some of these credit their parents for not making those five mistakes. Others had come through periods of total frustration and bitterness at the church.
Here’s what I learned from those PKs:
- God’s grace is bigger than our frustrations and hurts (imposed on us or self-imposed) and bigger than our parents’ mistakes.
- When we see mistakes our parents make that have hurt us or shaped us in ways we don’t like we become responsible for how we respond, either to follow Christ or not.
- Whether or not our parents did a good job, being a PK is a unique blessing and creates an opportunity to serve God’s people that most don’t get.
- The church is God’s people and part of God’s plan; to abandon it is to abandon what God has put in place.
- Honoring our fathers and mothers is a really big deal and a really valuable thing. No, it doesn’t mean we must agree with them or imitate them, but it does mean we cannot resent them.
- With few exceptions, our parents love us deeply. It’s worth figuring out how to connect with that love instead of holding on to hurt.