A Pastor’s Child’s Thought Process
by Rebekah Faith Rogers
**This article was taken from The Odyssey Online and used by permission
Has anyone ever told the pastor kid they should know something that they don’t even know the answer to? Have you ever scolded the child for something their parents should have handled? Have you ever thought they should be perfect little angels when they are acting like little devils? If you have, then you probably are thinking of the stereotypes that have been put on pastors children for all of time. When I was growing up, I was always looked at like I needed to be perfect and know the church answer every time a question was asked. When I was younger, I remember my dad having to tell me that if a member of the church got on to me and disciplined me that I had to tell him because I was not their child; it was not their right to discipline me like I was.
Pastors children are always thought to be precious angels or rebellious demons. What church members do not realize is that by thinking your pastor’s child should be one or the other, you are placing them in this glass bowl and making them feel like they are being watched and judged for every little thing they do. Pastors children call it the “fish bowl” effect. They feel as if every little thing they do inside and outside of church can be seen, and they will be looked down upon if they do not meet the standards of the church members. I grew up always knowing everything I did would be looked upon and judged, no matter how small. I always felt the need to be the perfect angel who did nothing wrong, who knew all the church answers, who could take charge when she needed to but still sit back and hold her tongue when she should. I know of a pastor’s son who rebelled and ran away from God because he was so sick of the church. Just because people think they know how we should act does not mean they do. You cannot dictate how your pastor’s child acts because they are not your child, and they are not under any obligations to listen to you about their behavior. That is something their parents need to handle.
When a pastor’s child becomes saved at the age of 5 to 8, it is because they are feeling pressured to give their heart to the Lord, but what does that mean? I was 7 when I went forward saying I needed Jesus, but I felt pressured by the children’s minister to do so. It was not until I was 15 that I realized I needed Jesus in my heart, and it was a very scary time to walk to the front and proclaim that I needed Jesus, especially when I came to the church already saying I was saved. I thought people were not going to accept me and they were going to look down on me.
As I got older, I started to understand the behind the scenes things going on. I was told more things, and I knew what my dad was facing every time I walked in the church doors. Yet, people did not know that, so I would hear things that I probably should not have heard. But I was the pastors daughter; it’s not like I’m going to run and tell my dad. However, if that was a pastor’s son standing there, the members would keep their mouths closed. For some reason, being a pastor’s daughter allowed people to think that I was not going to do anything if I heard something or saw something that was not Christian. I still do not know why that is.
My number one wish is that people would see the amount of stress they place on their pastor’s children. Here are 10 wrong ways to approach your pastors child:
1. They are not your child so do not tell them what to do. If they are doing something you think is disobedient or disrespectful, tell their parents and make sure they understand that their parents are being told.
2. Do not assume they are going to know every single answer. Just because they were raised in church their entire life and have their dad telling them biblical answers all the time does not mean they know all there is to know about God.
3. Do not think they are going to be doing the right thing all the time. They are not perfect—no one is. Just because you think they should do everything the right way and be a smiling angel does not mean they are.
4. Do not assume that everything is perfectly fine with the family if everyone is smiling. When I was going up, I was always told to smile and not show anything when I was at church.
5. Do not think that taking their dad away every night is OK. Just because the pastor is always available does not mean they are not doing anything with their family. I went through a time where I resented the church for taking away my dad during bedtime. We always had three- to four-day vacations because we knew my dad had to get back.
6. Do not assume they are walking with the Lord correctly. There are some pastor’s children who need to be taught how to do a quiet time or pray properly. Just because they grew up with it does not mean they know the right way to be with the Lord.
7. Just because you think they do not have anything to say does not mean they do not. There are times where I have to bite my tongue because people assume I do not have anything to say.
8. If you think you know what’s best for them, do not tell them what it is. They are people too, and they need to learn how to deal with mistakes they make or how to make the best decisions for themselves.
9. Just because you think they are not listening does not mean they are not. I have heard plenty of conversations about the church when I was younger. I never understood them, but I do remember hearing them.
10. Do not tell them what their father should or should not do! This one gets so annoying. Some people think that the pastor should preach longer so they tell the child, who then is thought to tell the father. Or some people think that the wording in the sermon could have been different so they tell the child. My favorite is when I am told about how my dad needs to do something about the air or heat. I cannot change that because my dad does not control that issue. That is the building and grounds committee.
I just wish that people took the feelings of others into account when trying to dictate their lives or live through them.