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 fourth interview.
Justin Buzzard is the lead pastor of Garden City Church, a new church plant in Silicon Valley. He’s a fifth generation Californian who has spent the last twelve years living and pastoring in the San Francisco Bay Area. Justin and his wife, Taylor, have been married for ten years and are raising three little warriors: Cru (7), Hudson (5), and Gus (3). Justin’s passion is communicating the good news of Jesus and encouraging people to pursue God’s unique calling on their life.
You can follow Justin on Facebook as well as read his blog at JustinBuzzard.net. He has written several books: Date Your Wife, The Big Story, Why Cities Matter, John: A 12-Week Study, Consider Jesus, and Sermon Preparation (contributor).
In his free time, Justin loves trail running, surfing, backpacking, exploring new places and meeting new people, dating Taylor, wrestling his sons, hanging out with friends, preaching the good news, discipling men, and being outside.
What is your greatest hope for your children?
My passion and prayer is that my three sons (7, 5, 3) grow into adulthood with a deep love for Jesus, the church, their mom and dad, and each other. We’re having fun and working hard to create a strong gospel culture in our home and in our church, making our home and church a place where it’s safe to be honest about what’s really going on in our messy lives. I hope that right now, while my boys are young, they’re growing up in a culture in our home and church where they feel safe, free to be themselves, quick to trust and talk to me (and others in the church) about what’s going on, and where they often witness our big God doing wonderful, redemptive things in people’s lives.
What is the greatest struggle you face in parenting as a pastor?
I’ve been convicted lately of putting more time, vision, strategy, and prayer into the church that I do into loving and developing my three sons.
How do you help your kids manage the expectations placed on them as PKs?
By planting a church! When you plant a church you get to set a certain culture from the beginning, which for us has included a vision to do our best to make this church a grace-soaked, exciting, freeing place for my three sons to grow up. There are many specifics to this for us, I’ll list just a few of the most important ones:
-Talking to all of our leaders about traditional PK dynamics. Giving them awareness of these often overlooked and unforeseen dynamics so that they can help us set a healthy culture for my three sons and for the other PKs in our church.
-Inviting many trusted, grace-soaked adults to invest in and love on our kids so that our kids feel genuinely pursued, cared for, defended, and loved by a diverse crew of people in the church.
-Through sin. My wife and I talk a lot to our kids, to the small group we lead in our home, to our leaders, and to our whole church about our own sin/mess, making the church an increasingly safe place for my kids and others to be vulnerable about talking about what is really going on. I think the biggest pressure PKs face is a pressure to perform and pretend. We’re trying to blow that up through regular public repentance.
-Disappearing from the church from time to time. We take the whole month of July off every year in part to keep our family healthy. For one month a year I’m not a pastor. I’m just dad. And my kids aren’t pastors’ kids, they’re just goofing around with mom and dad in a location 3,000 miles away from our church.
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.