There are parenting challenges that every kind of parent faces. The parenting challenges that pastors and church leaders face is peculiar and therefore deserves some extra attention. Let us examine what some of these challenges are and how we can deal with them. We don’t have to be experts, we all keep learning. I think this helps me to relate with challenges that other people face daily.
I never planned to have “Pastor’s Kids”. Sure, I hoped to have children. I, however, never planned to have that “brand” of children – Pastor’s Kids or PKs.
Life happened – I fell in love, got married, got pregnant and had my first child. One day, I was gazing into his adorable eyes and it dawned on me; I had a pastor’s kid. His father was a pastor and I was I pastor. It was an epiphany that scared me. How was this child going to turn out? How was I going to do a decent job with the demands of ministry. He would depend on us for love and attention with so much already vying for that attention.
Pastors’ kids who turn out rebellious and angry at the ministry weren’t born that way. There are distinctive challenges that come with raising children while actively doing the work of ministry. Some of those parenting challenges include:
- Not having enough time because of the busyness of ministry
- The pressure inherent in ministry work
- Inexperience in raising children under intense scrutiny
Rebellious children are a product of nurture, not nature. Even though the pressure is real, God’s grace is even more real and I trust that we will receive His grace to raise wholesome children.
Parenting Challenges: Time
The solution to the parenting challenge of insufficient time is better time management. We all get 24 hours in a day and that time is not enough for most people to do everything they would like to do daily. That is why prioritization is key. If you will put in the time to parent your children in the midst of all your other obligations, you will need to prioritize them. Everything in ministry feels urgent. Like my husband will say, “Souls have been perishing before you were born, and they will perish after you are gone.” You need to make your children a priority to give them the time they need.
I am learning the importance of delegation more than ever before. You don’t need to be the person who does everything. You can delegate tasks. Don’t feel like the savior who must take care of every situation that comes up. Determine what others can do in your stead. Realize that every time saved in not performing unnecessary tasks is time that you can invest in parenting. If you cannot delegate, then bring your children along with you on the journey. It is a little trickier now that my children are older, but I used to get them involved in most things I needed to do when they were younger. I tried to make it fun so they would not be bored. That meant I got to spend more time with them while still doing ministry work.
Don’t waste rime with frivolous activities. You may need to choose between some social engagements and time with your children. Many people will want you to be involved in their lives socially, but you need to be wise about making these commitments. Always know what is at stake.
Parenting Challenges: Pressure
Unrealistic expectations bring undue pressure. Some pressure I have felt in parenting as a pastor’s wife did not come from people but from internal conflicts. I sometimes compared myself to other people. This resulted in judging myself too harshly for my perceived inadequacies. I had to learn not to hold myself or my children up to unrealistic expectations. Balance for me wouldn’t look the same as it would for many other women who did not have my peculiar challenges.
Several years ago, a member of our church in Chicago corrected my son for something he had done. She then added, “Do you not know you are an example to all the children in the church?” I felt she was wrong in putting such a burden on a young child. A pastor’s kid is a child just like any other child in church. He doesn’t need the additional pressure of feeling that he has to be of exceptional behavior for the sake of everyone else. You should teach him to be responsible but not at the expense of his humanity or individuality.
While I remain actively conscious of the pitfalls of holding children to unrealistic standards, I have on occasion, been guilty of comparing my son to people in church who were older and more matured. I’d say, “Why were you running around today, why couldn’t you have helped in the media like so and so.” Then he would remind me that the person I was referring to was five years older than him. I learnt over time that when I corrected them or set expectations for something, I ought to be realistic in doing so.
Parenting Challenges: Inexperience
The antidote to our inexperience and the mistakes we make as a result of it is Grace.
Titus 3:5 – Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…
Successful parenting is not a function of your ability to get it right without any mistakes. That is what righteousness is. Parental success involves God’s mercy and His grace. His mercy to make sure you do not reap the harvest due you from your mistakes. Grace to ensure you receive benefits you don’t deserve in spite of your errors.
Receive and extend grace to yourself and to your children. This means that you will allow yourself to make mistakes and you will allow your children to make mistakes. To avoid making too many mistakes, learn from people around you, from books and from sermons. These will help minimize but not eradicate your mistakes. You will still make mistakes that you will need to forgive yourself of.
You will need to extend grace to your children also. It is important to create an environment that is safe for them to make mistakes.
Also, remember that we learn through our mistakes. In fact, it is important that we make mistakes so that we can grow and learn. Don’t react to mistakes as if they are going to ruin your parenting or ruin your child’s destiny. In fact, let your child know that they can get past their mistakes to become stronger and wiser.
Let Your Children be Their Authentic Selves
Your focus should be raising your child to be the best possible version of himself or herself and not on having them perform because the world is watching. It is true that the world is watching but one of our responsibilities as parents is to help them deal with that pressure, not add to it. People who watch our children are not necessarily doing so out of malicious intent to find something to criticize. Some people are doing so out of sincerity because they want to find something they can emulate. They just want some form of guidance in their parenting journey without needing to directly ask questions. The problem is that you are trying to figure this out yourself, so even people watching need to manage their own expectations and realize you will likely make some mistakes on the journey to getting it right.
Read my post on other things that bring pressure like stress and fear here.
You can get an excellent resource on ministering to your family here.