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Parenting: Our Kids Didn’t Choose This Way Of Life!

 —  March 24, 2014 — 2 Comments

the-struggles-of-a-pastors-kid

When Kayla was born, Rachel and I made an immediate decision that has fundamentally shaped our approach to raising kids. It was a decision based on a reality: Our kids didn’t choose to be born into a pastor’s family! My wife and I together choose the way of ministry, of our own free will. It was forced upon Kayla and Cole from the moment they entered the world.

And so we determined to raise our kids not in a “Pastor’s home,” but in a “Two parents who follow Jesus” home. Obviously, ministry and church life have saturated the fabric of our family. Kayla and Cole have been raised as Pastor’s kids and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But we strived to, and mostly succeeded at, letting our faith in Christ dictate how we raise our kids instead of the expectations, pressures and spotlight of being a Pastor.

Here are a few super practical examples:

- We have never (I truly believe, NEVER) expected anything more from our children because of my position than we would if I were, say, a Christian dad who fixes cars for a living.

- “What happens in youth group stays in youth group”. Here’s what I mean by that: I rarely share with parents about their kid’s minor youth ministry infractions. When a kid is rowdy during the lesson, we deal with it in youth group and move on…his/her parents would almost never even know it happened. So Rachel and I determined we would treat our kids the same way. When one of our kids goofed up or misbehaved in youth group, it was dealt with just like any other student….and then left in the youth room, just like any other student.

- We have ruthlessly defended their right to be normal kids. Our kids deserve the “right” to go through all the normal adolescent stuff: awkward dating breakups, ditching small group to see a movie, making a poor decision or two…or three. When people have raised a “Kurt’s kids should be above this” eyebrow, we have been quick to defend our kids and protect them from the goofy pressure that members of the congregation put on PK’s.

- We gave them very few “perks”. Entitled PK’s drive me nuts. The Pastor’s kid who doesn’t think the rules apply to her. The Pastor’s Kid who knows the rules don’t apply to him, because he has been allowed to fudge on the rules over and over again. Our kids had some perks (attending most of our camps and events when they were little), but not many.

Anybody out there want to share one or two ways you’ve tried to “normalize” the childhood of your ministry children?

Kurt Johnston

Kurt Johnston

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Kurt Johnston leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4% of his time.

2 responses to Parenting: Our Kids Didn’t Choose This Way Of Life!

  1. Always a good reminder Kurt. I have a 9yo and a 5yo and am a Middle School Pastor. I feel we’ve done a pretty good job as well with what you said. I can’t believe my 9yo will be in the youth group soon though. Crazy.

    One other thing I have worked through/thought through is how Christ is revealed in our home. I want my kid to see an authentic believer, good & bad, not a pastor as a dad. In correlation, I have spent time with the wife on how we integrate church into our lives. In other words, how much time is spent at church. I would hate to have my kids hate church because they were always there, no matter what.

    So what I guess I am saying is we are just trying to figure this all out & be parents who love Jesus, not a pastor and a pastor’s wife with unrealistic expectations.

  2. As a youth pastor and mom of three girls one in my senior high ministry, one in my jr. high and the third in the middle school ministry, I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I love having my children in youth group. I was terrified that they would resent not having a youth pastor, but have found that it has created so many good memories and open discussions that I wouldn’t change it. I have very intentionally had other adult leaders poor into their lives, so if a time comes and they need another adults influence they have a lot of Christian Aunt and Uncles to come alongside them.

    I have held them to a higher standard not because they are ypk, but because we are Christ followers and much is expected of us. I try my best to live this out in my life and I’ll apologize and admit to them when I screw up too. I believe being real in all aspects both in ministry and home will help our children to become the Godly men and women God created them to be.

    I have also dated my children. Making special moments just for them. Just like I might take a youth out for coffee or ice cream, my children get special individual time too.

    Great book on this is “As for me and my Crazy House” by Brian Berry

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