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Pastors' Wives--When Pastor's Kids Fail: Part 1

Ask me if I expect my kids to be perfect. Go ahead, ask me.

OF COURSE I DON’T! No one can be perfect. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 HCSB)

At least that’s the answer myself and most other pastor’s wives are going to give.

But when no one else is around, and I slow down and get real with myself, I discover a different answer. As pastor’s kids, I really do expect my daughters to not mess up and to make the right choices all the time. Umm, that’s the definition of perfect.


I justify this line of thinking because it seems like the stakes are so much higher with pastor’s kids. If the pastor’s kids fail, then it could reflect badly on the pastor and he might lose his influence in the church and community. What if the pastor’s kids’ failures keep people from attending our church? Or worse yet, what if the pastor’s kids’ failures reflect poorly on our Savior, and people are pushed away from God? Do you see the snowball effect happening?

So I start becoming the ultimate judge of my kids’ choices and behaviors. Everybody else likes to critique the pastor’s kids anyway, right? So I’ll just be a step ahead of them all.

For instance, just this past Sunday I confronted BOTH of my teenage daughters when they walked into our church worship area. I told one that her shorts were too short and the other that her dress was too short, to which she replied, “Hmm, Dad just saw me and told me how nice I look today.”

Talk about taking the wind out of my crazy judgmental sail.

And he was right. She did look pretty, and my other daughter looked just fine as well. Were they wearing something that I would allow them to wear if we were all going out to dinner? Absolutely! Their outfits were totally appropriate.

Without even realizing it, I’ve put these unrealistic expectations on my kids simply because they are “Preacher’s Kids.” Sounds a little bit like some other religious leaders I know who Jesus addressed with, “Woe also to you experts in the law! You load people with burdens that are hard to carry, yet you yourselves don’t touch these burdens with one of your little fingers.” (Luke 11:46 HCSB) I certainly don’t expect myself to be perfect, but I’ve sure tried to make my kids be that way.

Here’s the argument behind this thinking though that we as pastor’s wives need to realize. We cling to James 3:1 about teachers receiving a stricter judgment from God because of our leadership role. Absolutely true-I don’t doubt it one bit. And I think of it every time I write a blog or teach at a speaking engagement.

But our kids are NOT the teachers. Our husbands are, and some of us are as well. Our children simply have the misfortune/blessing of being born into a pastor-home.

Our God is a God about choices. It started all the way back in the Garden of Eden. “See this tree? I don’t want you to eat from it. But I’m giving you the choice to follow my directions or not. I’m not going to put a fence around the tree. You choose.”

All the way through God’s Word we find choices laid before people, including the ultimate choice that we still have today. “Here’s my Son. I’m offering His very life as a gift to you so that you can come Home to Me one day. But I’m not going to force you to accept Him. You choose.”

When my girls were younger, it was easier to “force” them into certain behaviors or choices. I was molding them, protecting them, teaching them. And while I’m still here to mold, protect and teach, they’ve both reached the age of accountability where they have to be allowed to make some choices on their own, because ultimately, I WANT THEM TO CHOOSE JESUS FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. But it’s not my choice to make for them.

I know from personal experience that it has actually been some of my bad choices in life that have driven me closer to Christ than I might have been without them. If I never failed, I would never feel and understand His beautiful and unexplainable Grace.

Oh, but how hard it is to stand by and watch our kids fail!! And I’m not just talking about something as minor as dress length. Especially as pastor’s wives with all of the added burdens of ministry.

This has been a topic that the Lord has placed heavy on my heart the past few months to share in the PW blog, and there’s a lot more that Scripture has to show us about this subject. So we’ll hang out here for another blog and dive in more.

Until then, we’ve got to just keep praying for our kids no matter their age, trusting them into the Father’s hands, and asking for guidance as parents to have the strength to allow them to fail into grace when that is what’s required of us.


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