I’ve had a few people ask me recently about how my kids are doing. In each of those conversations the question is always phrased a little differently, but they all have stemmed from a concern for how my children are handling being a pastor’s kid, or a “PK.”
I appreciate the questions and concerns. I know all too well that being a PK is viewed as a pressured situation to be in rather than a privileged one. My wife and I are very sensitive to this issue. As far as we can discern, at this time our children don’t feel pressure to be something they’re not simply because they are my kids. We are constantly talking about how we can continue in this trajectory.
So, not that I have this figured out (by no means am I suggesting that!) and I certainly know that things can very well change as my children get older, but I thought I would list out a few things that my wife and I are trying to do to make being a PK more privilege than pressure for our children:
- We never ask them to serve at the church – or suggest that they should. They certainly know what we are doing and we are very deliberate about explaining “why” we do those things, but never want to suggest they should do the same because “people will notice.” Our children do ask to participate in ways. For instance, rather than just going to the 11:30 gathering, they often ask my wife if they can go to the 10am gathering to help with nursery or with the toddlers and then stay for their class at 11:30. We are also opening a coffee shop in our city and they have asked if they can come on the weekends to help out. Those things are fun, but we leave that involvement up to them.
- We always talk positively about God. We certainly talk positively about the church, expose our kids to amazing people…but we always talk about following God and joining in with what He is doing. Regardless of what happens in the future, we want their focus to be on God, not the circumstances – good or bad. My hope in this is that it sets a foundation that their accountability is it God, not others.
- We highlight the fun aspects of ministry. For instance, we emphasize the beauty of helping the poor and often talk about ways in which we are doing that – we, of course, also include them in that. When I bring them with me to speak somewhere, we always try to do fun things and somehow highlight the fact that we wouldn’t be able to do that if I wasn’t teaching. I sometimes let them play in the church building on Saturdays – things other children don’t necessarily have the privilege of doing – although sometimes they invite friends to join in the fun.
- Include them. They don’t ask to be a part of everything, but the things they do we allow them to participate as much as they desire. I also try to think of creative ways to include them. For instance, when I have a new book coming out we do giveaways and allow my kids to choose the winners. They also write a note to that person and “congratulate” that person for winning the book. They find it to be really cool to be a part of that. They will also run the “book table” for me sometimes – they really get a kick out of that.
- Celebrate their uniqueness. We never want them to feel like they have to fit a mold simply because I’m a pastor so we make sure we encourage them on how they are unique. We certainly work on character flaws as any loving parent would, but we are careful to not contextualize it as them being in a fish bowl. That’s the last thing we would do.
- Encourage leadership. We talk about leading people in the right directions, not behaving to please people. That’s much more than semantics!
If you’re in ministry, what are some things you’re doing with your kids to make growing up in the church more privilege than pressure?