My father is a preacher. My husband is a preacher. My brother is a preacher. I have uncles who are preachers. I have cousins who are preachers. All of my life I have been surrounded by preachers!!! Let me share something with you that may not cross your mind when you think about the preacher’s family; we would rather have our loved one do ANYTHING ELSE but be a preacher, especially a pastor. I am sure that I am not alone when I say that majority of those from a preacher’s family have contemplated more than a handful of times what their lives would be like IF their loved one was NOT a preacher. Why focus on what if when I can share a little wisdom with you. I have decided to share a few things you should know when it comes to your pastor’s family.
#1 Contrary to popular opinion, THE CHURCH SHOULD NOT COME FIRST! It’s hard enough for anyone who works to make sure that their spouse and children receive a good amount of their attention and feel like a priority. Imagine what it is like for the smaller population of the preacher’s family to share our loved one with EVERYONE at the church! There are missed games, meetings, recitals, and for those who have an extremely hard time keeping their family first it can go as extreme as important moments such as graduations and family holidays. It creates feelings of resentment towards the preacher in the family and towards the church. (Trust me, I know.) I would go far enough to say, for some, they even grow to resent God. We have observed for years as our loved one chooses the church for meetings, services/engagements, financial needs, visiting with families, etc... all in an effort to do their job as your leader. The family should be their first ministry. If you see a pastor putting your church over their family, they do not have a place of rest when they go home. Let’s face it, that can create a whole list of other issues in itself and I just don’t have the time to go down that road today.
#2 WE WILL NEVER BE PERFECT, and neither will you. We can understand that you expect more from the preacher. Why wouldn’t you?! They preach and teach the commandments of God and offer counsel to those who seek it. BUT...WE are NOT the preacher. We are the preacher’s family. The reason they have so much material for their sermons on Sunday mornings is because we give it to them from our lives. The reality is, everything that we have been called out for doing through a sermon illustration or church gossip is being done in all of your families too. You get to keep your short comings and the shortcomings of your family to yourselves. We just want the ability to walk out the story of our lives with the same amount of grace that you receive for yours.
#3 STOP ASKING US WHEN WE ARE GOING TO START PREACHING! For everyone who has given you the polite smile, shrug and dismissing response let me tell you what we are really thinking. SHUT UP!!! LEAVE US ALONE!!! The truth is, those of us who are called to ministry are running from it because we have witnessed how you have treated the person we love and the people that love them (their family/us). We wouldn’t dare make a CHOICE to put ourselves or our future family through any of the things that they and we have experienced. Church folks can be ruthless! We hear what you say under your breath and have the nerve to say to our faces. Instead of covering us in prayer, you are attacking us through your words and actions! Why would anyone choose to serve in such a toxic environment?!?!
#4 You can’t talk about them, WE CAN. LISTEN YA’LL!!! I can guarantee you that the preacher’s family was clapping back before it was even a thing….mmmkay! We have heard some of the most ruthless things said about the preacher in our family. Some of those things may even be true. But what you won’t do is come for our family in a disrespectful way. You better not say NOTHING unless you are ready to experience the pettiest of the pettiest . Don’t talk about them among each other, that’s gossiping. Don’t talk about them to us, we will cut you...seriously! We can, will and are talking about them...just not around you. When we talk about them it’s coming from a place of love for them as a person. The truth is, whether they are a preacher or not they will still be our family. If they are no longer your leader you will move on and find another one. So we can talk about them...you need to keep your thoughts to yourself.
#5 WE DON’T TRUST YOU!!! Unfortunately, as much as you may reach out to us and offer your ear, shoulder and home as a place of refuge...we don’t trust you. Every moment that we spend in this role as the family of a preacher we learn that there are fake people who will be there as long as there is something there for them to receive from the preacher and even from us. Others are there as long as there is something they can learn to use against the preacher or against us. For those reasons, we can only truly be real with each other. We can be real with one another because we know that the person on the other end truly understands where we are coming from. You have not walked in our shoes, you don’t get it. If we were completely transparent with you, you wouldn’t want our loved one as your preacher/leader. That’s just the reality, don’t take it personal.
#6 NOTHING WE DO IS FOR THE CHURCH, it’s for them. Whether it’s singing, playing instruments, running the sound and media equipment, helping with administration or even teaching...we aren’t doing it for the church. Please understand that whatever gifts/talents we have are ours and if you haven’t scarred us enough to run us away from the church or the preacher we love hasn’t made us angry enough to turn away from them, we are serving in the capacity that we are to be a help to them. We really do want to help them have a thriving ministry as much as we can. If you think it’s easy, let me assure you that it is not. They are our biggest supporter and critic at the same time. The only one we want to please more than them is God. So unless you’re a professional expert, keep your criticisms to yourself!
I hope that this list has shed a little light on the things that are going on in the minds of the families behind your preachers. If you can get these 6 things down I can assure you that things will go a bit smoother for the preacher, their family and for you.
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