News is spreading and questions flying, “How will Sarah Palin ever manage if she becomes the Vice-President and possibly if something happens to McCain, the President? How will she balance the demands of motherhood and her career?” (Funny, rather ironic, side note is that the people asking these questions are the same people that promote feminist agendas and women’s equal rights in the workplace…) Sarah has five children including her youngest, a child with Down’s Syndrome. I can’t imagine the scrutiny one would face in a public political life trying also to raise a family. People are questioning her parenting and people are questioning her kids (who are supposed to be off limits). Listen American People, don’t expect more out of a possible VP’s kids than any other child/teenager in America!
Families in ministry experience this same kind of fishbowl existence, on a much different scale. While our business is not generally published on foxnews.com (unless you do something REALLY, REALLY BAD), we are published weekly on yourchurch.com. Early on in the ministry it became clear to me as a pastor’s wife that I was going to do some protecting and defending of my young. Mess with my kiddos, the claws are gonna come out! Too many PK’s (pastors’ kids) fall due to the expectations of the church people. There are some things I have learned along the way (this short path of almost 8 years) and have done to try to lessen the “church’s” potential negative effect on my kids:
–Don’t expect more out of my kids than any other kids at church. They will misbehave, they are kids. And, if I know about it they will get punished appropriately. Many times we don’t hear about our kids’ misbehavior, but somehow 10 other people do. How are we supposed to address misbehavior that we don’t even know about?? I can guarantee you that we are doing our best on the home front to “train up” our kiddos, but we’re not perfect and neither are they. Oh, and neither are you. J People can be quick to judge when a pastor’s kid “falls into sin” but God forbid your child/teenager falls into a season of sin with sin’s own consequences and then is shunned by the church. “There is none righteous, no not one.” Not one of us is that far away from falling and we must remember where we come from, why we need a Savior in the 1st place. We’re sinners.
–Gauge their involvement and their limits. We probably do this better, Moms, than our hubbies. We’re wired that way. Ministry can be very demanding on time; meetings, practices, outreaches… In general, we try to involve our kiddos in whatever they want to be involved in. Serving the Lord is a joy and we share that joy and responsibility with our kids! It’s a give and take. There are times that they don’t necessarily want to play quietly in the nursery during your meeting, but learning to adapt at times is part of the growing process too. We can place reasonable expectations on our kids. However, when overload happens (and yes, we know when that is) we can step back and take some chill time. That is easier for us Mommies than the Daddies. It IS ministry when we stay home so that Dad can meet with someone or take care of church business.
–Make your walk with Christ evident to them. Our kids need to know that we don’t just do church, that it’s a relationship with Christ. Time with God is important to me and vital to me in my walk with Christ. I am nothing without Him. I am a mess and just plain ugly when I am not filled with His word or spend time talking and listening to Him. I need Christ because I am not a perfect Mommy, wife or person. ‘Course I don’t need to tell them that, BUT, when they see God work in my heart and I ask them for forgiveness because I have sinned against them, they know I mean it when I say I want to live like Jesus. Help them start the habit of time with Jesus so they can develop and grow in their own personal relationship with Him. One day this summer, I overheard my daughter say to one of her friends that was over, “My Mom has read the entire Bible all the way through over FOUR TIMES!!!” Cracked me up! Yet, I realized that she is looking to me as an example. There is no doubt to her that God’s Word and growing in Christ is a priority in my life!
–Don’t share the church junk! Listen, if our kids knew everything about everything and everyone at church, they would never want to even darken the door of a church ever again! I’ve heard PW’s share the church junk with their kids (because oftentimes you can’t talk to anyone in the church) and that is SO not the thing to do. Don’t teach your kids to be a gossip, nip it in the bud. If they bring a concern to you, teach them to pray about it rather than dissect it.
–Share the praises! Being in the ministry is a blessing! I can’t imagine doing anything else!!! It is hard and there is no doubt about that! As much as you try to shelter your kids from your tough times, they’re not stupid! However, when God answers prayer, share the blessing with your kiddos! Let them rejoice in God’s faithfulness with you! Recently my kiddos have felt the effects of major budget tightening. It’s hard to tell them that we’re not going to do that, or no we’re just gonna eat this (how many cans of chicken soup are we gonna eat??). However, we have been praying and trusting God to meet our needs (not necessarily all the wants) and He is faithful and does. We share that with the kids when God creatively and supernaturally meets our needs. They are learning some lessons as children about God’s faithfulness and the power of prayer that some adults don’t even get! Share when someone accepts Christ at church. Let your kids get excited about the movement of God.
–Share special family times! There are times when you need to just be a family. It is ok to decline even a very casual invitation from others so that you can just be a family. Highlight those times. Do something special. Do nothing at all. Your kids should always know how special they are to you. There are seasons of ministry when time is limited, but find pockets of special time, quality and quantity.
I would love to hear what you, other pastor’s wives or people just involved in ministry, have learned and what you do regarding your kids. Let’s hear it!!