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 about being a PK from a PK’s perspective (The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity), 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 tenth interview.
Matt Carter serves as the lead pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church, which has grown from a core team of 15 people to more than 7,000 Sunday attendees since the church began in 2002. He desires to see the church become an advocate for the welfare of the city of Austin has led to the creation of a network that exists to actively pursue the redemption and renewal of the city for the advancement of the gospel. The For the City Network provides a platform for organizational collaboration by offering physical space to local nonprofits and creating a funnel for volunteer engagement. In addition to pastoring at The Austin Stone, Matt is a cancer survivor, co-author of For The City and Creation Unraveled: The Gospel According to Genesis. He is also a speaker for camps and conferences nationwide. He holds a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Matt is married to Jennifer, and they have three children: John Daniel, Annie, and Samuel.
What is your greatest hope for your children?
I know this sounds cliché’, but I my greatest hope is that my children walk well with Jesus. My children are entering into their teenage years and I am longing like never before for their faith to become their own. I deeply desire for them to love and serve Jesus, not because I do, but because they long to themselves. I cannot imagine what it is like to be a teenager in today’s society…the pressures of social media, a declining morality in society, etc. Our culture needs young men and women from the millennial generation to stand for Christ. I want my children to be among them.
What is the greatest struggle you face in parenting as a pastor?
Consistency. I want my children to see the same man at home that they see in the pulpit. I often struggle with seeing my home as a place of rest and respite from the ministry instead of a mission field. I truly believe that my children will be more impacted by my loving Jesus as a father than they will hearing me speak about Jesus as a pastor.=
How do you help your kids manage the expectations placed on them as PKs?
I’ve done my best to shield them from unwanted and unnecessary expectations. I’ve intentionally not used them as much as I would have liked to as illustrations in my sermons. I don’t parade them in front of the church to help garner favor for me. As much as possible, I want to them experience church in the way that any normal child would experience it. I’ve been very firm with staff or volunteers who have ever made comments to my children about them behaving a certain way because “They are Matt Carter’s kids”. My hope for them is that they will love the Church and choose to be an active part of it when they leave my home.
First Interview: Darrin Patrick
Second Interview: Eric Geiger
Third Interview: D.A. Horton
Fourth Interview: Justin Buzzard
Fifth Interview: Jud Wilhite
Sixth Interview: Derwin Gray
Seventh Interview: Stephen Miller
Eighth Interview: Kevin Peck
Ninth Interview: Josh Moody
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.