Sunday, September 14, 2008

Preacher's Kid Syndrome

It is a challenge to raise a family in the public eye. Sometimes our kids demonstrate negative behavior, and it brings a form of shame to our ministry. How we respond makes all the difference in the world—and in what we are modeling for the child-raising parents of our congregations.
Our children require a great deal of love and attention from us, and often we feel the demands of church and ministry are overwhelming.
Through observations made in over 22 years of children’s ministry, my wife and I have found that when young children act up in public, it is usually because they are experiencing a lack of love and attention in the home. PKs and their parents have experienced these problems since Bible times. Read between the lines when studying the accounts of Absalom and David (2 Samuel 18:33), or Hophni and Phinehas and their dad, Eli the priest (1 Samuel 2:12–34). Think about the lack of child raising that brought about such tragedies. We have all seen the fallout in our day: The pastor whose grown daughter calls every weekend in a drunken stupor; the district official who, unable to sleep, goes out to a lonely field late at night and cries out to God for the life of his drug-dealing child.

There can be no doubt—our children require a great deal of love and attention from us, and often we feel the demands of church and ministry are overwhelming. Some pastoral families have dual-working parents; some pastors’ wives are also employed by the church. Church committees, ministry programs, and church office work take her time. How can we strike the balance between home and church that we advocate from our pulpits?

Perhaps taking a different approach will help. Most of us would agree that our children are on loan to us by God. They are not our possessions; we do not own them. We are to invest in them, and then disburse them into the kingdom of God. Like Jesus’ parable of the profitable and unprofitable servants, we are to invest that which He has entrusted to us for the growth and blessing of the Kingdom.

Our children are searching for love and attention. This means spending time with our children. The investment of time with our children pays rich and long-lasting dividends. When we are convinced that the investment of time in our children will pay these dividends—peace, joy, harmony, and clarity—we will take the steps necessary to achieve it.

Robb Dunham is an Assemblies of God family and children’s evangelist with a nationwide ministry called SuperKidz 4 Christ. He lives in Denver, Colorado. You can read more on this subject at the Assemblies of God USA Enrichment Journal.