By Maina Mwaura
I can still vividly remember the emotions I felt as my wife and I brought our daughter home from the hospital as she was born. There was joy and—and not much sleep.
The other thing—as a youth pastor—I had to process was the fact that my daughter would be raised as a “pastor’s kid”—a label that often comes with extra challenges and often undeserved baggage.
As parents, we all have concerns and fears of wondering how we’re going to take on the task of raising our children. For those of us in ministry, who have surrendered to the call of church ministry, raising our children has added weight.
Not only do we want to fight the association of a ministers child with a rebellious child—we also are keen to the fact that these kids of ours are watching us closely to see how authentic we are.
Shortly after my daughter’s birth and my realization of fears associated with raising a minister’s child, I confided in a mentor of mine who was also a pastor. The wisdom he shared with me was priceless and helped bring new confidence in my roles as father and youth pastor.
Specifically, I’d like to share three pieces of advice that have had stayed with me.
1. Forget the stereotypes.
I can remember the first question my mentor asked: “Where are you getting the idea that pastor’s kids always have issues?”
I told him about some statistics I heard that supported this idea. When my mentor asked me how I knew those stats were credible, I couldn’t give him a confident answer.
Once I thought about it, almost every pastor who worked beside me in ministry had raised godly children. And when it really came down to how many “bad” pastor’s kids I knew, it was just a few.
I’m not saying there aren’t some misguided pastor’s kids. But no matter the profession of the parent, kids, at times, may drift away from their faith. My mentor was clear with me that I should stay away from the stereotypes and focus on the child that God has given our family.
Another mentor advised we give our daughter value-based limits instead of rules; our kids should walk away knowing when they are step outside of the family values. Coming up with a family-based discipline also keeps it simple in the mind of a child. Having family values also supports your family mission.
Rules are temporary; values are long lasting.
2. See the incredible opportunities.
When I compare my daughter’s childhood with mine, it doesn’t even come close. Let’s face it: Being a pastor’s kid can seem like living in a fishbowl. But the experiences they have and the ministry they observe are beyond those of most children.
Ministers should highlight the privileges our kids have. Because of our calling, pastor’s kids may have to move around more than other kids which also opens the door to meeting people and encountering culture they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Also, my daughter has several extended honorary family members because of the calling to ministry.
3. Remember the One who called you is also the One who loves your child more than you do.
Recently I spent some time with noted author and counselor Sissy Goff who is the author of Raising Worry-Free Girls.
During our time together, she explained that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is helping them understand that we’ve been given all the tools we need to confront fear.
I can also remember leaving a visit with my mentor with a renewed confidence that although my concerns were valid, the greatest gift I could give to my daughter is a father who has not only put his trust in God personally, but a father who trusts God in every area—including the outcome of his children.
MAINA MWAURA is a freelance journalist and minister who lives in the Atlanta area with his wife, Tiffiney, and daughter Zyan.