Most of us have heard stories or read books about preacher’s kids gone bad. We know about unwed pregnancies, unsavory addictions, and other unwise choices among young people who grew up in a parsonage.
Without a doubt, the preacher’s home may face unique pressure and scrutiny. That’s why it’s appropriate for us to dedicate several posts to the problems and possibilities shared only by preacher’s kids. But I’m glad to say this week we present far more of the latter than the former. All these articles were written by preacher’s kids who are happy about their growing-up experiences at home.
Like so many other issues in life, this one requires a heavy dose of common sense and the desire just to pursue balance. Maybe the best approach is to assume that the preacher’s home should be just like every Christian’s home: Mom and Dad are committed to each other first and engaged with their kids daily. Children see models of lived-out Christianity in the daily decisions of their parents. These parents are intentional about their task of leading their children to become disciples. Kids are held to high standards but exposed to godly grace when they make bad decisions. (All kids, not just preacher’s kids, inevitably make bad decisions.)
I’m struck by one quote in an article I found online*. Pete Briscoe, a preacher who grew up in a preacher’s home (his parents are Stuart and Jill Briscoe), shared something his dad told him. “My generation failed in that we tended to sacrifice family on the altar of ministry. I fear your generation is sacrificing ministry on the altar of family.”
Some young ministers, so wary of losing the balance between professional ministry and personal life, allow the pendulum to swing the wrong way. They take liberties with their time or place restrictions on their service that most members of the church cannot enjoy. They may not have discovered an encouraging fact: Children will warm to the challenge of family sacrifice for the sake of Christian service if they see ministry as a calling the family pursues together.
The minister’s spouse plays an important role here. I remember Bill Lown telling me his wife never complained to their kids when he had to be away from home. My wife followed the same pattern. Even though ministry often made me absent, my kids grew up loving God and the church, and they’re making their own sacrifices today for the sake of ministry. That’s a picture we can hope to see repeated again and again in the homes of scores of Christians—including the homes where preachers live.