Growing up as a pastors kid [PK] I have seen first hand how challenging being a pastor can be. They have endless responsibilities and tasks that pull at them from every direction, and they do so as flawed humans that need Jesus just as much as everyone else, and the same for their families.
I grew up in a mega church in California with a 14,000 weekly attendance between all the services. I have some of my earliest memories running around the halls, through the sanctuary and feeling pretty cool because I could access the second floor to visit my Dad in his office. I even remember begging my Mom to let us go into the kitchen on the second floor because that is where the good vending machine was!
When I turned ten my Dad felt called to come back to Albuquerque, NM to start a church. So our family of five packed up and moved to the good ol’ Duke City. I went from running through halls of thousands to starting a church with five people. Starting that small church wasn’t with out its excitement. I saw God work behind the scenes in incredible ways, gave my little sassy opinion about paint colors and wall decor and helped to build a community.
But I also remember constantly being afraid of making a mistake. I would worry if I said the wrong thing someone would be upset with my parents. I felt a huge burden to be perfect. I would be watched during worship. Is she singing? Is she raising her hands? I would be scrutinized for what I wore. You wore that last week. Is that modest? What I would say would be picked apart. Did she speak back to her parents? She has an attitude?
Why do we put this expectation on our pastors and their families? Yes, a pastor is supposed to live above reproach but in truth we all, as Christians, are called to live above reproach.
It breaks my heart when I hear it said that a pastor can not lead if his children do not go to church. Or if his children choose to not go to church we say how can we listen to him? What credibility does he have? So quickly we forget, you can not force someone to love Jesus. In truth, pastor’s kids see the deepest hypocrisy and deepest hurts. They get attached to people who may end up leaving the church. We also share our Dad with the church. A pastor doesn’t get to clock out. He can get a call in the middle of the night because of an emergency. He can preach on a Sunday morning and come to your graduation that same afternoon. It is a truly sweet but at times difficult thing to have him be your pastor and your dad.
I encourage you to remember a pastor is just a man, and his wife and children are not perfect. We are no better or less. We are no more holy or any more called than anyone else. We will have our struggles and our weaknesses. When we pick at and scrutinize others we are not strengthening, but tearing down our church family. We are called to uplift and build up. Can we live lives fueled on a whole lot of grace not just for our selves, but for others? For our pastors and their families? For their faults and their failings? Can we pray with them, laugh with them, fellowship with them and love them? Can we let them be who God created them to be and love them for it?
“Life is best served with a hot cup of coffee and a whole lot of grace.”