This blog is based on a great article written by Barnabas Piper. While he assumes that the dad in a clergy family is the pastor, not all clergy families are made this way. After a bit of a read, I've added my thoughts to his '7 Things PKs Need From Their Dad' article to make an Australian Top 7. For the original article, click here.
- A Parent, Not A Pastor: Bringing your work home is common for any people-based career. It's hard to leave them (and their problems) behind. By the time pastors come home, they have been problem-solving, listening, and doing enough admin to sink a battleship. All you want to do is get home and tune out for a while. And sometimes that's absolutely fine! But home also has your eager kids (and spouse!) waiting to share their lives with you; to play ball, show you their paintings, ask for your help with homework, or play a game. A simple argument but well put by Barnabas: 'Leave work and be present for your kids. Your children will spit on your pastoring if they miss out on your fathering (parenting).'
- Conversations, Not Sermons: By now, most people know that pastors have a 'preaching voice'. The voice that gets adopted when proving a point, arguing a case or explaining a biblical passage. Fantastic when preaching. At home however, no voice gets tuned out faster! PKs don't need to hear the voice from the pulpit. They need to hear their parent's voice; whether happy, sad, or angry, but especially when teaching them about the bible. Learning about the bible together, in a way that interests them helps them learn how to 'interact with this important book' in a lasting way.
- Interest In Their Hobbies: The all-consuming work of ministry means there is little time for pastors to have their own hobbies, let alone be interested in someone elses. It's a difficult balance, but one that makes a huge difference to PKs. They need to know that even if you're exhausted, you still have time to kick a ball around, play tea parties with dolls or beat them at Mario Cart. If it matters to them, it matters to you - and that's something they'll take with them no matter how old they get.
- Get To Know Them: For people who work with people, getting to understand how someone ticks is part of the job! But if PKs notice that their pastor parent's energy goes into everyone else, they're unlikely to share who they are as they get older. Leaving energy to talk to them, learn from them, and understanding who they truly are will make a significant difference in your relationship with them. Sometimes they might want advice, sometimes they might want to hang out or just to have a listening ear. If you learn the difference, as Barnabas says, they will 'have a path to walk with you.'
- Consistency: PKs are very good studies. They can get a whiff of hypocrisy at 50 paces. A Sunday sermon on grace and forgiveness can be well-meaning and truthful but if all a PK sees is a grumpy, miserable, or cynical pastor parent at home then 'grace looks awfully cheap and unappealing to your son in the second row.' Everyone is entitled to bad days, and it is human nature to lose your temper, speak rashly or be impatient. But apologising is also hugely beneficial and goes a long way towards showing PKs both sides of grace - giving and receiving.
- It's Ok To Not Be Perfect: This is a tough one for clergy families, and PKs especially. They are expected to set a good example and be role models in their pastor parent's church, often to the point of perfection. A very difficult achievement for any kid, especially teenagers (aren't they paid to find ways to irritate their parents?!). They need to know it's ok to not get it right all the time - and that they can ask for forgiveness and help when they need it.
- One Moral Standard: Every church is different. Every family is different. But Jesus stays the same. PKs need one moral standard to live by, not what each church determines as moral. As a pastor parent and clergy family, you have the huge advantage of being able to show a moral standard and maintain it wherever your family moves or whoever you meet. Helping PKs to know what it is, how to live by it, and that it's ok to not get it right all the time, will go a long way in helping them be the people God made them to be. "You have heard that it was said PKs should be holier than their peers, and their parents should raise them better, but Jesus says to us all, "Be holy for I am holy." So it should be."
The original article is well worth a read - this is my take on it :) What are your ideas?