Thursday, February 7, 2013

What's it like being the mother of the pastor's kids?

I am a pastor's wife.  I've always been a pastor's wife, so I can't honestly compare it to being the wife of anyone else, but in my opinion it can't be that different from being a plumber's wife.  My husband has a full time job that is often way more than full time, but then lot's of jobs are like that.  I'd like to think that my desire to serve people in Jesus' name and study God's Word would be no different if Blake was something other than a minister.  I can assure you my bent toward teaching would be evident even if Blake was a doctor or lawyer or truck driver. (Funny thought!)  Sweet friends often try to empathize and acknowledge that being the spouse of a minister must be hard.  Honestly, it's not.  It's all I know and what I love.  Blake and I often say that even if we wanted out of ministry, we have no other marketable skills!

However, being the mom of minister's children is often hard.  I know what you are thinking.  The stereotypical pastor's kid is rambunctious, breaks all the rules, embarrasses the family, and makes the deacon's kids blush.  We've had moments like that and likely will in the future, but that's not even the hardest part.  The really hard parts are watching my children struggle with pleasing people versus being themselves.  It's also helping them own their relationship with Christ instead of it being the habit of just going to church.  It's watching them leave friends and familiar when we move to a new church.  It's agonizing with them as they search for friends that share their beliefs while also trying to be light to those friends who do not share their beliefs or at least their moral standards. Sometimes it's trying to explain to them why some people say harsh things about Dad when they disagree with his leadership or sermon when the kids know Dad listened very carefully to what God wanted him to do or say.  It's been awhile since they've seen this, but the scars are there from times they've thought people who loved them were actually quite mean to Dad. Hardest of all, I'd say, is trying to help them understand that they are a part of this ministry team.  I want them to believe that God placed them in this ministry family with their own talents and gifts that, if yielded to Him, will minister to those in our spheres of influence.  

For this reason, one could never thrill me more than when they genuinely love and encourage my children.  Want to bless your pastor's family?  Love their children!

I have a dear friend who is a pastor's kid and was my college suite mate.  I remember very few times Robin felt devastated by her father's congregation, but I remember many times she would tell of their sweet and generous acts of compassion toward her and her brother.  As a bridesmaid in her wedding, I watched her church shower her with not only gifts, but service as they joyously helped with all parts of that ceremony.  It has always impressed me that she loved being a pastor's kid so much that she not only married one, but is now raising her own pastor's kids!  In fact, long before I knew Robin I knew her grandfather because he was my pastor growing up.  Now that's a legacy!  Three generations of ministry means not only God's calling was honored in that family, but also that the people they ministered to were kind and encouraging and compassionate enough that the next generation longed to serve Him in full time ministry!  

This morning I watched Justin be the recipient of this sort of encouragement.  A sweet lady in our church sent him a simple thank you card.  She thanked him for playing the drums at church with enthusiasm and commitment.  Honestly, some people would have probably said, "That pastor's kid needs a haircut and should not be playing those drums in church."  We've known times when congregants would have asserted that Blake has no control over his children or has worldly parenting ideas just because Justin is a normal teenager.  But today, Justin saw from someone other than Mom and Dad that his ministry is vital and blessed by God.  We preach to our children that we are all on the same team, but this morning Justin got it from another source that he's much more likely to remember.  Thank you, Marilyn West!  

In our church this is not an isolated incident.  My kids are accepted as normal kids who have their own talents and personalities and quirks.  In fact, at FBCLS, every child seems to be appreciated and urged to use their unique gifts and personalities to lead in worship, service, and study.  I'm blessed beyond measure to be a part of this church.  My kids have their own fan clubs I think.  It reminds me of a time when we were interviewing with a pastor search team in Georgia and my friend Judy asked, "What questions do you have for us, Gayla?"  I replied, "Will someone love my children?"  

That's really all this pastor's wife wants...for someone to love my children.  Want to bless the socks off of your minister's family?  Love their children!   


Gary Snowden said...

Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Gayla. Really good words this morning.

Sarah said...

I'm way behind on reading your posts, but, wow. Thanks Gayla! Thanks for putting my thoughts and feelings into words. I shared this one on my fb page. :)

Marilyn Clifton-West said...

I wanted to send him another note for his drumming in the "Never Let Go" song but thought he might think I was stalking him!! LOL! He's young and OH, SO GOOD! Love it when I see him sitting there before service ready to bless everyone.