Most pastors love their kids deeply. They have dreams for them and hopes. They want the best for them and work to provide it. Like all of us, they are fallible. And when you add the (enormous) pressure of ministry to that fallibility, being a parent gets really difficult. I’ve reached out to several pastors to hear from them about their relationships with their kids. I’ve written a fair amount about being a PK from a PK’s perspective, but I think hearing from pastors is also helpful. It’s too easy to get jaded or lose perspective. Both sides of the story need to be told. Here is the third interview.
D.A. Horton currently serves as the Executive Director of ReachLife Ministries, the non-profit ministry of Reach Records as well as the National Coordinator for Urban Student Missions at NAMB. Prior to serving at ReachLife, D.A. was an urban church planter, pastor and Lead Teaching Elder in Kansas City, MO for 6 years. D.A. also has served as an Adjunct Professor at Calvary Bible College teaching systematic and contemporary theology courses in addition to the seven urban-focused courses he wrote for the Urban Studies major.
D.A. earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies at Calvary Bible College and his Master’s Degree in Christian Studies from Calvary Theological Seminary. D.A. is currently working towards his PhD at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. With a heart to provide local churches with quality Bible-centered tools and resources for evangelism and discipleship, D.A. wrote two books; G.O.S.P.E.L. and DNA: Foundations of the Faith both published through Moody Publishers. He is currently using the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has given him to edify the body of Christ while serving under the leadership at Blueprint Church where he and his family are privileged to hold membership. He and his wife of 10 years, Elicia, have two daughters, Izabelle and Lola, and one son, D.A. Jr.
What is your greatest hope for your children?
In all honesty I pray my children fall in love with Christ at a young age. I pray this love for Christ helps them refrain from experiencing or indulging in the sinful activities I did during my teenage years. Included in this prayer is my desire for my time of lack regarding balance with time between ministry, travels and family never turn my children away from Christ or the church. I try to fully engage with my children when I’m at home and limit the conversations that deal with ‘work’, so they can see when I’m at home, I’m present and not just resident.
What is the greatest struggle you face in parenting as a pastor?
I don’t read the Scriptures and explain them to my children enough. I was very convicted of this last December when i was reading through 2 Thessalonians and came to the realization that the Scriptures, no matter the age of the saint, are God’s means of sanctification. I asked my children to forgive me and help hold me accountable for walking them through the Book of Mark. We’ve had great talks about Christ, the issues in the world, and how we can trust in Jesus at all times.
How do you help your kids manage the expectations placed on them as PKs?
I listen to their hearts when they have struggles and complaints about the pressures of being PK’s. Often my oldest expresses more insights to the pressures of being to church on time, dealing with comments from others if she arrives late, and giving up time with me while at church because of people’s questions, comments or concerns. I also have learned to provide my children space to unpack their fears during our walk with Christ as a family. When we moved from Kansas City to Atlanta, my children took the move hard. I was convicted by the fact I was not letting them grieve in a healthy way, as I was trying to get them to move past the pain quickly rather than being present with them, grieving with them, and walking with them through the pain. I was trying to force upon them a ‘mature response’ to the pain of transition because I felt that if they were showing weakness and brokenness, then I was failing as a parent. God changed my heart the night my children just held onto me and we just cried together and sung hymns until they went to bed.
For more on the experience of PKs and how to minister to them check out my book The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity. I wrote it from the perspective of a PK and for the benefit of the church and its leaders.