This is a question that should be on the minds of every pastor. It is certainly on mine. Every pastor’s family is at risk at becoming disenchanted, even hostile to that church and ministry that so often takes their father away. How can a pastor help, not hinder his children to grow in love for the church?
A better, more effective counselor to us on this matter than I am is to hear from those who have lived it. Pastor’s kids who have lived their whole life under this tension and came out more grateful for their father, his ministry, and their church. They do exist, you know? I recently met one such pastor’s kid and he has graciously offered these kind words of testimony about his father and his faithful efforts. Pastor’s take note…
1) He was home in the evenings, physically and emotionally. Not all evenings of course, but most evenings, and we knew it was important to him to be with us.
2) He talked with us. I think men and women are different. Generally, women talk more than men, and that is fine and even good. But pastors talk to other people all day—what does that communicate if they then don’t want to talk to their kids? Other people are more important. The job is more important.
3) He was hurt more than any of us when ministry would detract from family time. In spite of the safeguards of the evenings he set up, emergencies came up. People died when we were on vacation several years in a row, weddings sapped his energy for the entire weekend, a heavy counseling situation meant he came home more tired than usual. But because his heart genuinely wanted to be with the family and he communicated this, we saw it was not his choice, we saw that it bothered him even more than us.
4) More than anything else, he was not a hypocrite. He lived consistently with what he preached. He did not put on a show when he was in front of people and when he was with the family, and he did not feel that he had to portray ministry and serving the Lord as fun and joyful all the time-sometimes it was not fun, sometimes it was just rough. He was honest about that, and we could tell he was not trying to pretend.
Excellent wise words, Luke. Thanks for your contribution to serve us. Thank your father and his faithful example for those of us still trying to be faithful. Pastor’s take this to heart as you wrestle with this tension that will always remain. Let us be faithful to do our part and trust our great and powerful God who works in our children’s hearts for the rest.