Raising Healthy Young Adults in a Pastoral Home 

“Would you be upset if I visited other churches?”, she asked calmly. Being a member of a Pastoral family comes with its expectations. It’s why when my 19-year-old daughter at the time, asked if she could visit other churches, I was surprised that I did not respond as ‘expected’.

My husband and I have been pastors of a church for over 14 years. We have 3 children that were born into ministry. I grew up seeing pastor’s kids become teachers, worship leaders, or pastors in their parent’s church. So, I thought that I would expect that our kids would be a big part of our ministry. In some circles its highly expected that a congregation be led by a family of ministers.

As I thought about my daughter’s very respectful request to visit other churches, I felt very proud of her. I even felt that maybe I should go with her. All I could hear in my spirit was, “this is the answer to your prayers.” My prayer for my kids is that they would hunger after God and that they would search for Him on their own. I understand hunger. I understand that God rewards the diligent search of His children. And all I’ve ever wanted is that my children would come to know Jesus and be fulfilled.

My daughter’s diligent search is ministering to my spiritual heart and my momma heart. She has been on this awesome journey of discovery. And there is no better way to be. She is telling us her journey and sharing the encounters she’s having with God all on her own. She’s even dreaming prophetically.

As she shares, I see the hand of God in her life. She is even discovering that the World has nothing to offer her. We have not been perfect parents, in fact, I will be the first to say that parenting did not come easy to me and we have made several mistakes according to the standard, LOL. I don’t know what we did to raise such awesome kids, however I can tell you what we didn’t do.

My hope is that something I write here about our experience will help you in some way.

  1. We didn’t silence them. We listened to them a lot and let them have the freedom to speak what was in their mind with no judgement. They learned very early how to express themselves and we didn’t silence them, even when we wanted to. I believe this and number 2 together helped our kids to keep calm and not  raise their voices to us…they have never done it and have always been very respectful, even when we disagree.
  2. We didn’t nag them. We learned to pick our fights as very busy pastors and parents. We looked out for them and made sure they had everything they needed and when they misbehaved we had talks with them and reasoned with them.  When they misbehaved we did our best to help them see and know why their behavior was not acceptable. It wasn’t enough for me to say, because I said so. Principles and ethics, good character and behavior must be modeled and expressed.
  3. We didn’t change. Who we are in public is who we are at home. I had not realized they were paying attention until just recently, when my 16-year-old son said to us that what he likes about us is that we are the same at home as we are in public.
  4. We didn’t smother them. They knew we loved them even as we held them loosely. By loosely I mean we gave them back to God early on. We co-parent with God trusting that when Nate and I can not be there, God is there. I cannot even take credit for all my kid’s good character. The Lord provided us with an amazing support system, within my family, my church, and the schools we chose for them. We have been blessed.
  5. We did our best to not be hard on them. MERCY led the way. I took my pointers from how God parents us. He gives us the right to choose. He teaches us what is right, and He expects us to choose accordingly. And when we don’t choose the right thing, we suffer consequences brought on by our poor choice, not God. He has mercy on us and silently stands by as we suffer the consequence. He waits patiently for us to return; his kindness leads us to repentance. We wanted our kids to know how to be merciful and kind to others, so we were merciful and kind to them, encouraging them to learn from their mistakes.
  6. We never hid our own desperate need of God. My daughter, filled with awe and wonder, shared a photo of herself. She was able to capture a little ray of Sun light that was coming in through the trees just as she sat down to read. I thought to myself, oh, my, she’s doing what I do! She later tells me, “Mom, did you see my picture? I have my timer set to read the Bible everyday and I thought to myself, I’m going to do like mom and go sit outside!” I was in awe of what I was seeing unfold right before my eyes. I can’t help but be filled with gratitude and humility. She is searching for God. The hunger and thirst for truth is in her. The Bible tells us, and my soul knows very well, that she will be satisfied.

I am happy she is seeking God. Where she seeks Him is up to her now. She is 20 years old and capable of discerning His presence. I trust Holy Spirit will always lead her in the right way.

I am praying for parents who are pleading for the salvation and wellness of their children. To pastors with wayward children, and to believers far and wide, I say Don’t Give Up! Keep praying for them, give them to the Lord and wait patiently for the manifestation of His glory over your kids.  If you desire to see your kids whole, look up to our Father in heaven and remember how He has parented you. He is our best example. He is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful and practices self-control. Go and Be like Him.