It didn’t start out that way. But the moment I responded to the Lord’s call to ministry, my children immediately became MKs, or Ministry Kids. And a few years later, when I was commissioned to be a pastor, they became PKs, or Pastors’ Kids.
Whether they like it or not, there is an unspoken pressure that is placed upon them. We try our best not to make it worse for them, but I must admit that there are times when I am myself conscious of how my children are behaving and how that might affect our testimony. It doesn’t help that we are seen as people of great faith (or those with little self-control), having a large family. And also people who dare to venture the path less trodden, deciding to homeschool our children. It can be quite a lot for our children to handle as they grow up in such an environment and high expectations.
Yet, instead of always focussing on their behaviour, I really should be asking myself, “How am I living out my Christian walk in front of them?” It is easy to be warm, nice, patient and loving to others in the church. But am I the same with them? It is easy to preach and teach in front of a congregation and class, but do I walk the talk at home? It is easy to challenge others not to be hypocrites like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. But am I a big, fat hypocrite in the eyes of my children? It is one thing to encourage them to read the Bible; it is yet another for them to see the Bible lived through me. Finally, when all is said and done, even if I should do all thing right by the grace of God, I cannot force my faith on them. They must develop and grow a faith of their own.
It was an article by Rebecca Kruyswijk about Priscilla Shirer in BibleStudyMagazine that prompted me to write this post as a reflection and a prayer for myself and my children. As a pastor’s daughter, Shirer faced great challenges and “the greatest was making her faith her own”. Today, she is a bible teacher and conference speaker who loves the Lord and His Word, having opportunities to speak alongside others like Beth Moore and Kay Arthur. In particular, it was this paragraph that inspired and encouraged me…
I am reminded that however well I teach or encourage my children to read the Bible or to serve the Lord, it is my life and example that they will see and remember for the rest of their lives. Like Shirer’s parents, I want to be real to them and with them. But that does not mean justifying and rationalising my weaknesses nor making excuses for my shortcomings as a disciple of Jesus, a pastor, a husband and father. By God’s grace, I want to be one who lives what I preach, that my children will see as little or no disparity between my public persona and who I am to them.
And my prayer for my seven children … that they will each discover and know Jesus for themselves, that they will each receive a faith they can call their own, one that will ground them surely and securely until they see Jesus face to face.