I’m happy to introduce you to one of my favorite PKs. I’ve known Brian Willingham and his family for well over two decades. As well as being a talented writer, Brian is a minister with a great gift for spoken ministry. After you’ve enjoyed his thoughts, please share this with others through your social media accounts.
What qualifies me to speak to you about the children of parents working in God’s Kingdom? I’m just an ordinary young man wearing a baseball cap and flip-flops. If I ever did have any real claim to fame, it would be the fact I belong to a family of PKs, and I married one too. For over six decades, the heritage of ministry birthed in my paternal grandparents has been the glue that has held my family together. And while I would never consider ministry a family business in the same way that politics is a family business to the Kennedy’s or Bush’s, I am grateful to be sandwiched right in the middle of three consecutive generations of preachers kids.
There are pressures and conflicts which are uniquely confined to the experience of PKs. The most significant challenge for some could be mustering the courage to speak openly with a parent who is very busy ministering to the needs of others. Let me be a voice for PK’s and share four things that they need to know and have affirmed by their parents in ministry.
- Your PK needs to know they are always accepted – no matter what! Ministry requires those who are called to live by higher standards than most members. If you desire to establish a reputable Kingdom work in your community, you must be disciplined in your attitude, appetites, and attire. Your children will most likely feel the pressure to conform to a certain standard of acceptable behavior, even if they have not yet entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Your child will be tempted to do stupid (if not sinful) things just like the children of any other family. In spite of your efforts to train them, there will be times when your children will embarrass you. When it happens, remember that you are the best communicator of God’s unfailing love and forgiveness to your children. Never allow your pride or anger to drive a wedge in your relationship with your children. You will doubtless hear complaints from parishioners when your children expose the church to public humiliation. Just remember, you are not the first minister who has ever been shamed by a rebellious child. Jesus is our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit will be actively drawing your child back into the fold of obedience and maturity.
- Your PK needs to know that their ministry will be different from yours. Never pressure your children to be carbon copies of you. They will have gifts and callings that are uniquely their own. In fact, your children may not enter ministry at all! Your task is to lead them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to encourage them to be the salt of the earth, no matter what profession God calls them into.
- Your PK needs to know that you practice what you preach. There are many PKs whom I have known personally who have a deeply held resentment for the hypocrisy in the lives of parents who preached the truth on Sunday and lived a lie on Monday. Be transparent! You will make mistakes. Admit your shortcomings honestly before your children, and they will have greater confidence in you. Your congregation might applaud your sermons, but your children watch your life. Remember, the minister’s home will either be a place that produces feelings of warmth and safety or a home which induces bitterness and confusion.
- Finally, your PK needs to know that family comes first. Never become so consumed in ministry that your family feels neglected. Paul explicitly reminded us that a man who fails to provide for the needs of his own house has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. Take an annual family vacation. Include your children in ministry activities of which they are capable. Make time for them collectively and individually.
The life of a PK will most certainly be challenging. Only YOU can make it enjoyable! And I trust you enjoyed reading these four affirmations that children in ministry families need to know. Do the PK’s in your life need to hear one of these this week? If you are a preacher’s kid, what would you add to this list? Type your answers below and remember to share this encouragement.