Before I begin I’d like to thank Papa and Annie for being the best friends my parents ever had. I’m so glad they realized that pastors are allowed to have friends. I love you. (There are others, thankfully, but you two will always stand out!)
As a pastor’s kid, there are some misconceptions I would like to clear up.
- The pastor, pastor’s spouse and the pastor’s children are not perfect. (I cannot stress that last one enough.)
- Nor are they closer to God than everyone else in the church.
- The pastor’s family fights. Sometimes the pastor’s family fights on Sunday mornings on the way to church causing the pastor to get out of the vehicle and walk the rest of the way to church and never carpool on Sunday morning again.
- In the case of number 3, it is very difficult for the pastor to get up and preach an inspiring message. Give your pastor a break. Seriously.
- Your pastor’s spouse (particularly those who happen to be women) carries the weight of every criticism and attack you launch on the pastor and pastor’s children. Stop expecting them to want to be around you and attend all your “ministry functions” when you’ve done nothing recently but chew the pastor out.
- The pastor and pastor’s spouse answered a “call” to ministry. The pastor’s children did NOT. They do not know all the answers so please stop turning to them every time there is silence in your Sunday school class.
- For that matter, your pastor does not have all the answers. Especially about how to fix your kid. For all you know, your pastor’s kid is more broken than yours. Confide in your pastor, seek counsel, but don’t be pissed** if he/she doesn’t have quick fix for you. The good news is YOU also have the ability to seek and hear from God.
- Your pastor’s family needs him/her more than you do. Do not hold it against your pastor if sometimes he/she has to say “no”. You should want your pastor’s family to be healthy.
- Though your pastor and spouse are flawed human beings, they are there because they love God and your church. (At least I hope that’s why. You may be unfortunate enough to find yourself in a church with a certified narcissist who just loves the sound of his own voice. If you suspect this, please RUN to the nearest exit and never look back.)
Okay, now that I’ve shattered your rose colored glasses, let’s get down to business. These misconceptions about the pastor and pastor’s family are a result of an invisible line drawn between pastor and congregation. Believe me when I say that this line is detrimental to the wellbeing of the pastor, the pastor’s family and the church. This separation creates loneliness for the pastor and pastor’s spouse, unrealistic expectations for pastor’s children, and the temptation for your pastor to abuse the position.
Maybe you like the lines because it makes you feel good to follow someone who seems to have it all together (seems is the operative word here). Yes, your pastor has probably spent more time studying the Bible than you have, but that is as much your choice as his/hers. Stop thinking (or letting your pastor think) it is not your place to ask how he/she is really doing or to inquire about a decision he/she has made (respectfully, of course!). Don’t conspire or attack, but go to your pastor with kindness and the intent to erase those lines and create a new kind of relationship.
Bottom line: The Church is a body. It works together. The parts all need each other. This INCLUDES your pastor and pastor's family. Your pastor needs you as much as you need him/her. Don’t let your pastor (or anyone in the church) get to the point where he/she believes he/she is the most important part of that body. When this happens, it is only a matter of time before your pastor’s family and your church are completely destroyed.
Trust me on this one.
**sorry, Mom, I tried to find another word but that is the one that fit best. Grammy would approve.