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 second interview.
Eric Geiger serves as one of the Vice Presidents at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including Creature of the Word and the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and playing basketball.
What is your greatest hope for your children?
Kaye and I talk about this frequently and our biggest desire for Eden and Evie is that they will love Jesus, that they will follow Him. Other things flow out of that desire – that they will find their worth and identity in Him, that they will live filled with joy, that they will make an impact on the world in their unique way, that they will marry godly men and raise great families, (unless they stay at home with me forever, which I am cool with too) and that their lives will point others to Him. But we believe all that flows out of their love for Christ. So we want that first and foremost.
What is the greatest struggle you face in parenting as a pastor?
Since coming to be one of Vice Presidents at LifeWay Christian Resources, I now serve in the role of “teaching pastor” and “interim pastor” separate from having a full-time job. Because of that, and even before for that when I served as a full-time pastor, I wrestle with the time commitments required to pastor well. For me, it takes a lot of focused time to prepare messages – to be able to feed the people well. As a pastor, I sense an incredible burden, a blessed and holy burden but a burden nonetheless. At the same time, I sense a deep responsibility to pastor my own family. For me — my family is the most important small group I lead, the most important group of people I shepherd. There are times I sense a pull in both directions, toward more sermon-prep or more time with the family, and I have struggled with feelings of guilt at times for the direction I take. In His grace, He reminds me that He is the One who builds His Church. And I often put pressure on myself that is from myself and not from Him.
I have disappointed a bunch of people by not accepting certain engagements or going to certain meetings or dinners with people from church. I don’t like disappointing folks, but I remind myself of conversations I have had with pastors further down the road than me. I constantly ask men who are older than me about lessons they learned from parenting. And by far the biggest regret I sense is the time away from the family. I am trying so hard to not have that regret.
How do you help your kids manage the expectations placed on them as PKs?
Our kids are really young still; Eden is 6 and Evie is 4. So I don’t think they have yet realized that people will put expectations on them. We have never told them they need to act a certain way or respond a certain way because Daddy is preaching. So far they seem to like it when I preach. They have traveled with me at times and have enjoyed the trips. They love coming backstage and getting snacks if the venue has a “green room.” And Eden has started to sit in some of the services when I preach. We try and speak about the other aspects of church, such as leading a small group, as if it is normal – what normal Christians do and not something we do because I am a pastor.
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.