Thursday, August 4, 2011


Sons are a heritage from the LORD,  children a reward from Him (Psalms 127:3 NIV)

I am the father of two sons.  They are grown up now.  One is married, the other in college.  They grew up in church as part of that infamous fraternity known as “PKs”, or preacher’s kidsDon’t worry.  I’m not about to offer you a sweeping parenting essay.  But there are a few things unique to parenting as a minister that I see as decisive for our kids surviving their fishbowl existence in our home; those things I will share.

They Never Knew.  First, they never knew they were PKs when they were little, because we never treated them that way, or allowed anyone else to treat them that way.  We never told them that they had to act a certain way or go to certain events that others expected of them just because their parents were in the ministry.  We never made being a PK a liability or a burden for them to carry.  We tried to make their family experience something wonderful and normal.  My kids knew Dad was a preacher, but it only meant they were part of a church family like other kids.  It meant that people knew who they were, loved them, and cared about them like a large extended family of aunts and uncles.

We Served Together.  Another dynamic about our home was that we served together as a family in church.  In the early days of PCC, when we were first planted, we would go to the school together early on Sunday morning to do set up.  We swept the floors, placed chairs, and set up sound equipment together as a family along with other volunteers.  We would laugh, play, horse around, rib each other, and horse around.  We made “church work” part of our family time, and the kids learned to look forward to it.  They associated going to church with fun. This set a precedent for the ensuing years, as together we continued to serve in the church.  To this day, my sons still love the church they were raised in.

No Command Performances.  One of the more important decisions we made was letting out kids interact with the church like any other set of kids.  We never pressured them to attend all the events going on at church, even the ones that church people expected PKs to be at.  We knew the fish bowl our sons were living in and the expectations that people placed upon them – be here, do that, attend this.  We also knew that such a regimen could create burnout and resentment.  So we decided early on that we were not going to make our kids do anything except attend the weekend worship service and encourage them to find a place to serve as a volunteer.  They were already in church so much and so heavily involved in serving that we just didn’t have it in our hearts to ask them to do more.

Protect Our Home.  One of the banes of ministry life upon the family is the evening meeting.  If not careful, volunteers, leaders, staff, and pastors can be at the church every night of the week attending meetings.  To protect our home, we purposely limited how many evening meetings we attended.  I never expected my kids to be at church three or four nights a week, and I never allowed myself either.  Still don’t.  The evenings are primarily family time, home time, and it deserves to be kept that way.

Yes, some evening meetings are necessary, but the number should be limited.  You may think, “Then when do you meet with the lay leaders of the church?  Easy – over breakfast or lunch as much as possible.  And they prefer to have it that way, because they want to be home with their family too!

My Family Comes Before the Church.  Always has.  Still does. The three most important things in life to me are: God, family, and church…. and in that order.  How many men look back on lives spent in the ministry, only to see their children far from God, with vacant, bitter hearts, because of an absentee father?  Almost anyone could take my place and lead PCC, but I am the only father my sons will ever have.  My commitments begin with Christ, but then Christ calls me to be committed to my wife and family.  My ministry is a distant third.  You are right – I am called to a life of sacrifice and service.  And I will gladly sacrifice myself, but not them.

Now, years later, I can tell you that it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

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