It’s more than a job – It’s a lifestyle. I get it.
However, if we aren’t very intentional about how we live our lives as a minister, we’ll allow our calling to negatively impact our kids.
None of it is intentional, but it can still happen nonetheless.
Being transparent here…
I can remember times where I didn’t balance my time properly.
I can remember times when I had unrealistic expectations.
I can remember times when I held them to impossible standards.
Maybe you can too.
God called us to be great parents, no doubt about that. But in the ministry world, we can feel a man-made pressure to hold our kids to unrealistic expectations. We can even associate our value as a church leader with how perfect our kids are.
But God simply wants us to be great parents, and not put our kids under any undue pressure.
Simply being a great parent.
This article isn’t meant to beat us up. It’s meant to challenge us to serve and protect our families first, which is our highest calling.
1. Level the Expectations
You hopefully teach it and you should parent what you teach.
But don’t be surprised when your children aren’t perfect. They aren’t anymore than you are – or anyone else’s children.
2. Let them be KIDS
They might. Mine did to a certain extent – on certain days. And then other days they just wanted to shoot basketballs in the church gym while I went on church visitation.
3. Live what you Preach
Authenticity means you are in private who you claim to be in public. And chances are good they are observing both.
They’ll respect you when you are equally transparent and honest with how you live your life on Sundays and through the week. And the more they respect you – the more they can respect the ministry.
Remember, their primary concept of ministry is you.
4. Protect your time at Home
Let voicemail and email inbox do their thing. Put down the computer. Say no to outside interruptions. There will always be exceptions in the role of a pastor, but they should be rare, not common place.
The children need to know you value your time with your spouse and them even more than your time with others.
5. Be their Parent more than their Pastor
I actually found others on staff, or even pastor friends in other churches, were sometimes better at being their pastor anyway.
No one could replace my role as parent.
6. Give them roles as they desire
But I never forced it. I let them serve where they wanted to serve.
Interestingly, when the idea was theirs, they seemed more likely to want to be involved.
7. Let them do ministry with you
Unless it was a highly confidential meeting for the parties involved, I gave them access to my calendar.
They got to appreciate what I do as a pastor – not resent it because I wasn’t home.
Again, this was voluntary not mandatory.
But your role as a parent is MORE VALUABLE. Those kids need you more.
Let me say this, no matter what we do, our kids make their own decisions. You can’t control that. For myself, I’m praying that in spite of my errors and mistakes, my kids will follow after God.
The point of this post isn’t to make you a perfect dad or mom, but to take some pressure off of you.
Take a deep breath. Unload some of the crazy expectations.
Love them, Nurture them, Build them up, Share life with them, Pour into them.
You don’t owe any explanations for them being kids and being imperfect.
Let me take it one step further:
Pass this along to your staff, and to your fellow church leaders. They need to know it too.
Surround each other and Protect each other from the weight of “Perfection Expectation”.
Yes, we should carry ourselves well, and we should encourage our families to be as Christ-like as possible. But we protect our kids (and I believe we even help to draw them closer to the heart of God) when we are genuine, authentic, realistic and most of all – present.