It’s not one of those things that I am accustomed to writing about. I never really gave much thought about it as a kid. It was just something that was a part of my reality. Since I didn’t think about my father in terms of what he did in or for the church, he was just my dad and I was just his son. However, other people never failed to call my attention to it. I supposed it always had to do with the expectationof others who believed that his calling would no doubt be mine as well.
The frustration in that, however, for many preachers’ kids like myself is that while we are the product of our parents, that level of expectation by others is rarely the desire of our heart. The even greater challenge for children of preachers is that they feel the pressure to make that expectation that others have of their children a reality, regardless what the implications could be for the relationship divide it could create between parent and child. I’m fortunate enough that my parents did not fall into that trap. Few parents seem to be able to avoid it. Pride and ego gets into the way. The thought of creating a legacy or a lineage of generation after generation of preachers can appear quite appealing. What is a parent to do?
The humorous truth is that the very scripture that gets quoted as being the motivating factor by parents who fall into the trap of pushing their children to follow in tow is the very one that can be quite liberating for all involved. “Train up a child in the way he should go…” What so many parents fail to realize is that this scripture partially means that as a parent, you are charged with the responsibility of guiding a child in their own unique, God given passions.
Some may say that a child doesn’t know what they want when they are children. This may be true. However, there are many examples throughout the bible where by a child’s identity was tied to their name, and the name which was also God inspired, was only established after watching the child for eight days. In other words, a parent is supposed to study their children to see what character and behaviors they exhibit so that through proper study, they can properly direct their children in the direction the child should go and grow or mature.
Another passage of scripture tells of how children of youthful parents are as arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior. Warriors are deliberate in the use of their weapons of warfare. Parents likewise must be deliberate in guiding children in their own unique direction for effectiveness. A misguided arrow does not hit the proper target and could be devastating both for the arrow that was shot and the warrior who fired it. Children who are pressured to go in a direction that is not uniquely theirs to go in get frustrated and go way off target, producing disastrous results in relationship with both family and the church.
It may well be a child’s calling to follow a parent down the same path, but the child has to know for themselves that it was God’s call, not the call of others who did not know them. I’m a prime example, that with prayer, careful observance, and proper guidance, a preachers’ kid becomes who they are meant to be and a joy to their parents. I accepted God’s call to ministry over eleven years ago and haven’t looked back. Though my ministry is not confined to the four walls as some might expect it to be, I am on track and on target.
QUESTION: If you are a preacher’s kid, what has been your greatest challenge?
- Do Parents Always Know What Is Best? (dianeravitch.net)
- Shaming Children Is Emotionally Abusive (psychologytoday.com)
- Three Ways To Screw Up Your Kid (happychildrenandfamilies.com)
- 5 practical tips for child spiritual formation (garrickdconner.com)
- Not Doing Church Anymore! (sermonnotesforkids.com)