A pastors kid huh? Well don’t expect any sympathy. You’ve got it all. Your dad’s a walking concordance, your mum can sing like a canary, no one ever argues in your home, and you; you never feel lonely, lustful, unloved; and you don’t have to put up with parents who hate the fact that you’re a Christian.
You’ve got the ultimate spiritual environment to live in of course. Church people are always around your house (what a blast!). Counselling “cases” ring up at all hours of the day and night, tramps sleep in the spare room, there’s always an extra mouth to feed at meal time and you have to go to those exciting church meetings incessantly. Oh yes; there’s nothing as great as being a pastors kid.
Breaking The Mould
The year was 1977. I was seven. Communion had just been served in those ridiculously small cups old Pentecostal churches use. Six hundred people waited while the pastor rattled off the same scripture he read at every communion service. He gave the nod and six hundred hands lifted six hundred little metal cups of red Ribena to six hundred mouths.
There was a rattling, a shuffling; then six hundred screaming Pentecostals ran for the toilets, throwing up over the walls and carpets, gathering around toilets, squeezing around wash basins. Sick was everywhere. False teeth were piled up in the sinks, the floor was awash with pink puke and the visiting preacher sat on the platform, bubbles foaming from his mouth.
Someone had added bleach to the Ribena mixture.
I’d love to tell you I did it. It’s the sort of escapade that would have me beaming with pride today, long after the wooden spoon imprint would have faded from my backside. But it wasn’t me. Honest.
It’s funny though, as a pastors son I’ve been to a million meetings (or so it feels), but the few I can remember is when the mould is broken. Something different happens and I am stunned by the creativity of God (or whoever did the bleach thing!).
Breaking the mould is part of God’s plan for us. The truth is, when you’re a pastors son, everyone thinks they have a right to mould you; like there’s a “PK Mould” somewhere in heaven that we’ve all got to be squeezed in to. You have to be a certain thing, act a certain way and be the ultimate example of spirituality. Ha! Trash.
Smash the mould. The reality is you are free to be you. You don’t have to be more spiritual than anyone else. Be yourself, because God loves you, not other peoples expectations of you. Break the mould.
Be a Ribena of a different flavour. It might make the service a little different, and some might even feel a bit queasy at the sight of you. But at least you’ll be remembered!
A Spiritual Heritage
There is one great advantage to being a pastors son. I have a spiritual heritage. I am the third generation of ministers in my family. My grandfather, father and myself have over forty years of ministry experience between us.
I found this invaluable as I entered ministry at the age of nineteen. A worship leader, then teacher and team leader, I found the heritage of leadership and handling people gave me a great help in living as a leader.
In many ways people complain about being a pastors child. “It’s so hard” they say. Even this book will undoubtedly major on the difficult side being a PK.
Don’t be a whiner though. If you’re not careful you’ll start to sound like Harry Enfield’s Kevin saying “it’s so unfair”! Yes, in many ways it might be, but actually our spiritual heritage can be great. We can understand things about leadership, people, church, problems and restoration. We are not blinkered about ministry. We know it’s pain, hypocrisies and disappointments. We’ve seen our parents go through it.
I am convinced that I don’t simply have the experience of my eleven years in ministry. No, I have a rich storehouse of wisdom from being around my parents in ministry, watching my grandfather and other leaders. They’ve given me mentoring figures and advice it would have taken me years to find.
I thank God for the privilege of being a ministers son and grandson. God thinks in terms of generations, not just individuals. He thinks not just of Jacob, but of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The ministry and vision can grow with each generation and impact more lives for God’s Kingdom. I actually think it’s God ideal.
My Best bit of Advice
When ministering to young leaders, something I do often with the work of the Young Leaders Association, I tell them there is one thing more important than any other in the Christian life. More important than Bible reading; more important than worship, prayer or ministry; something even more crucial than loving God (now you’re worried about me!). The most important thing is who you hang out with. You can pray, have great theology and love God with as much of your heart as you can muster, but if you hang out with the wrong people, you’ll end up in the wrong place. Very few people are totally unaffected by their friends. Proverbs informs us “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a friend of fools suffers harm”. You become like those you hang out with.
We all know people who have loved God, but love him no longer because they’ve been friends with the wrong people. Whatever is going on in your life, find quality friends that are going where God wants you to be. I’ve had lonely times occasionally because there was no-one around that I felt was good for me. But I’d rather be lonely and be on fire for God, than be hanging out with people that lead me into a grey and compromising lifestyle.
So pastors kid, yes it’s hard. But also privileged. You have a rich heritage and a special place in God’s heart. Break the mould and be yourself. Find friends that will help you get where you want to go as a person and a Christian. Above all, love God, and remember God isn’t church; even he gets bored in some of those meetings!