Parenting is hard work with no guarantees. The thought of knowing that what I do as a parent now will in-return shape the rest of my children’s lives is an overwhelming responsibility. As a follower of Christ, there is no obligation that has greater significance than parenting. Our primary responsibility as Mom and Dad are to disciple our children. That is scary. To know that the way my life reflects the character of Christ to my children can be a terrifying thought. I know….I am a student pastor, why should I fear that? To be honest, it scares me even more that I am a pastor. If I wasn’t a minister, maybe I could you the excuse, “I don’t know how to do this” or “I don’t have enough knowledge of the Bible”. Instead, as a pastor I am called to a higher standard. I don’t have any excuses and neither do you, pastor or not.
As a pastor dad, there are three things that I fear.
1) Fear of Resenting their Pastor Dad
In “training up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6), I never want my kids to feel that everyone else comes before them. Ministry is an all-encompassing effort that pulls you in multiple directions. From counseling to long trips out of the country and everywhere in between, my energy can be pulled in different directions. As important as my calling in ministry is, my ministry to my children is more important. I will always be “Dad” to my boys. People come and go, seasons of ministry fade, but my family will always be my family. I do not want our boys hating the fact that I was pulled in multiple directions to help others while neglecting my time with them. As thankful as I am to the desire God has given to me for ministry, I do not want to sacrifice my family for a ministry. I want to disciple my boys into incredible men of God.
2) Fear of Resenting the Church
The second fear that I often wrestle with is the thought of my children turning their back on the church. Ministry is hard. People will treat you good and people will treat you bad. Regardless, the last thing I want is for my children to see all the aspects of ministry and have no desire to be a part of the body of Christ. Are my children going to be bored at church because they have been in it their entire lives? Will they be numb to the Holy Spirit because their faith has become routine? Will they see the messiness that ministry can bring and want nothing to do with it? My greatest desire is that Zion, Triumphant, and Noah will see the benefits of being a part of a healthy, authentic church body and never walk away. The community of the early church grew individuals faith. My prayer is that the community of the church will do the same for my children.
3) Fear of Walking Away from the Christian Faith
This is my biggest fear. As a pastor, what if my own children give up on pursuing God? What does that say about me as a parent? Am I a complete failure in disciplining my family? It breaks my heart. We have all heard the stereotypical saying pointing to the “pastors kid”. I don’t want that. I want people to look at my children and know that as a pastor I attempted to reflect the character of Christ to the best of my ability. Call it pride. Call it insecurity. This is an honest tension between trusting myself and trusting the Lord. Think about it. I am a pastor. I work with students to point them to pursue Christ. What if I don’t effectively do that with my own children. It would be like a fit personal trainer who has obese children. Would you think he is a great personal trainer? Probably not. In the same way, I want my children to seek the face of God, no matter what. This is where it is an absolute necessity to rely on the sovereignty of God. He is in control. It is up to God to reveal himself to them. I must trust that.
Parenting is scary.