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 twelfth interview.
Cole Brown is lead pastor of Emmaus Church, a multi-ethnic Acts 29 church plant in urban Portland, Oregon where he lives with his wife and two children. Cole planted the church in 2006 after being convinced the area was in desperate need of churches that aimed for gospel-centered preaching, singing, missions, and living. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.
What is your greatest hope for your children?
My greatest hope for my children is that they will know the love of Jesus through the love of their parents and, consequently, have Christ formed in them through their personal faith. I have no interest in seeing them “play the role” of a PK, measure up the church’s expectations, or live with the pressure of protecting their dad’s reputation. I simply want them to know Jesus and I don’t want my role or my preferences to stand in the way of that.
What is the greatest struggle you face in parenting as a pastor?
The greatest struggle I face in parenting as a pastor is to ensure that I am not only physically present for my children but also emotionally and mentally present. By God’s grace I have never had difficulty saying “no” to ministry demands and “yes” to time with my family. Yet I have at times had difficulty giving my children the emotional and mental attention they deserve when I am with them. Even when I am not at the church or with people from the church I am often thinking about the church, its challenges, and the many issues facing its members. Those things can distract my mind and heart from what is most important: loving and serving the people who are standing right in front of me.
How do you help your kids manage the expectations placed on them as PKs?
At present neither me nor my children are aware of the expectations placed on them as PK’s. It is possible that this is due to the relatively young age of both of my children (my son is 6, my daughter is 8). Perhaps greater expectations will be revealed as they age. Yet it is also possible that we are simply naïve and are blind to expectations that people inside or outside of our church have for our children. I hope that my own modeling of regularly confessing my sin and brokenness to the church will remove any expectation that my children should be less sinful than me.
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.