Jun 08, 2021

An Open Letter From a Pastor’s Kid and Pastor’s Wife

“Man, preacher’s kids are the worst!” I joked as my four kids ran through the church screaming while playing keep-away with my daughter’s shoe. As a pastor’s wife, I find it easier to handle my children publicly embarrassing me if I poke fun at our situation. However, when someone else starts commenting on or even threatening to leave our church because of my kid’s imperfect behavior, I have to admit, I feel those mama bear tendencies start to rise up. Because my kids are just kids like anybody else. When God called their daddy to be a pastor, he didn’t infuse them with magical perfection juice, and I wouldn’t want it even if it was available. I have found that being real and honest about my struggles with my kids, even if it’s in a joking way, has led to deeper relationships with other mamas at my church. Even with the families that have (unfortunately) left, God has been gracious in allowing that to be a new conversation about what God is showing us and how He is helping us improve in our parenting.

Raising pastor’s kids is no walk in the park. But I’m thankful that God prepared me for my role by giving me godly and wise parents who also happen to be a pastor/wife dynamic duo. I was raised not only as one of five PKs but also lived in an exceptionally small town. It was a fishbowl within a fishbowl. If this pastor’s kid even broke the speed limit on the way to school, the whole town knew before I arrived at the door. So was I used to pressure? Absolutely. But do I feel like it has to be crushing? No. Because the pressure only ever came from the outside, not from within my home. My parents had high expectations of us, yes, but not because we were pastor’s kids. They had high expectations of us because we professed faith in Christ. They would have had those expectations of us regardless of my dad’s profession. In fact, the expectations were not really even verbalized that I can remember. The focus was on knowing and loving Jesus. This birthed in us kids the personal desire for holiness that lasted because it wasn’t just a list of “dos & don’ts” we felt pressured to uphold to protect our family’s reputation. So now my goal is to raise kids who love Jesus and who know they are unconditionally loved by Him; not kids who just know how to act well-behaved in public. (Though goodness gracious, if they could do that I would not complain!)

“My parents had high expectations of us, yes, but not because we were pastor’s kids. They had high expectations of us because we professed faith in Christ.”

My husband often refers to the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when thinking about our kids. Remember that scene at the end when the guy is busting up his dad’s car? He was screaming, “You loved this car. I hate this car!” We never want our kids metaphorically beating the doors of the church because they think either of their parents loved the church more than they loved them. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the line between work and family in ministry. In most jobs, you can see the fruit of your labor, or at least know when you can expect to see results. But ministry isn’t like that, and I think that’s why sometimes it’s hard for pastors to know when it’s ok to take a break from work. My husband struggles with knowing he’s done enough to earn his paycheck, and I know all pastors struggle with telling people “no” This can easily result in overexertion and long hours. We talk to our kids often about the part they play in our ministry, and a prominent topic is one of “sharing” their parents with others. We try to help them see that their selflessness is allowing us to be a blessing to others. My husband often tries to counteract all that time away as much as possible. If he knows he has to be gone that evening, he will come home for the afternoon or go to work later. It’s taken a while, but he no longer feels guilty about taking time off to spend with the family, and he’s good about making that family time very intentional. Kids need to know that they are the priority. Even when they need to take a back seat to ministry, we try to make them feel like they are our partners in this and have an important role to play.

I get asked all the time if I was a typical wild preacher’s kid. I laugh, but I also get really frustrated at that stigma. I wasn’t ever wild; neither were any of my siblings. We are all well-adjusted adults who still love Jesus and love and serve His church. I know ministry can be hard on PKs, but there’s a lot of us who actually love being pastor’s kids. I know that as of now, my kids love it too. There are so many benefits to this lifestyle and experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world. Among the critics, there are those that God has put in my children’s lives to be “bonus grandparents.” There are people like our sound engineer who have taken my kids under their wings to help them learn a new skill while they are hanging around at the church waiting for their parents. (I’m up there all the time working on something too.) If you don’t have those people in your kids’ lives, pray that God would show you who you might ask to be that for you.

Be encouraged, PK parents! Remember that any pressure you feel to raise perfect kids is not coming from our loving Father, so let’s not pass that onto our children. Take time off to focus on your own family. Involve them in your ministry and let them experience the behind-the-scenes service opportunities. They are great little ministry partners who have so much to offer in their imperfections. Be real and honest with people about your struggles as a parent and let God use that to deepen your relationships and showcase your reliance on Him. Let’s help our kids see that being a preacher’s kid is actually a really cool thing.

By <a href="https://pastorskids.org/author/sena-reese/" target="_self">Sena Reese</a>

By Sena Reese

Sena Reese is the wife to Daniel, who is a pastor at Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Lamesa, Texas. She has been a pastor’s daughter her whole life and a pastor’s wife for almost 15 years. She enjoys homeschooling their four kids and helping lead worship at their church.