"...whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6 ESV)My original title for this post was "An Open Letter to Church Members About PKs"... then I realized:
- Some part of my audience wouldn't know that PK is "church talk" for pastor's kid.
- Another part of my audience was unlikely to realize that the PK stereotype affects kids whose parent is a ministerial staff member (but not the lead pastor).
- Pretty much all of my audience would think - as I do now - that the title I came up with is pretentious and preach-y.
So, new title. But the same basic content - a list of admonitions and advice for church members in dealing with the kids of ministerial staff.
- It is not your job, mission, vocation, calling and/or sacred duty to parent the pastor's kids.
- A simple rule: if you wouldn't butt into the parenting decisions of a non-ministerial family, don't do it to your pastor and his family.
- If you are the type that chooses to butt in, it's time to carefully examine your motives. Are you motivated by pride in your own parenting skills and success? Are you looking for more "dirt" to hold against your pastor?
- Treat PKs like you would treat any other kid in your church
- Don't single them out for discipline because of their role in church life.
- Don't fawn over them in an attempt to build a conduit to get to the pastor.
- Your church hired/called the staff member... not his/her kids. (And not their spouse - of course, that's a similar rant I'll get to on another day.)
- The ministerial family is not an extension of the staff member's ministry - and they are not "freebies". They are children of God with their own spiritual walk and identity.
- Do not force PK's to be junior pastors, spiritual examples or model church citizens.
- Kids develop spiritually in different ways and at different speeds. Forcing them to put on a mask of spiritual maturity and/or obedient compliance that they are still growing into is manipulative and wrong. "Fake it till you make it" does serious damage to nurturing a genuine relationship with God.
- PKs are not all the same: they are individuals with varying temperaments, gifts, interests, struggles and needs.
- Don't straitjacket them with your preconceived stereotypes of PKs and PK behavior.
Note: the only church I served as pastor while I was also a parent was actually very good to both of my boys. This post is in response to conversations I've had recently with adult PKs. The issues in here did not reflect the majority of our experiences as a family.