When my husband was getting ready to graduate from seminary, he was asked to visit a rural church in view of a call to be the pastor. It was to be a weekend visit, which included my husband meeting with various groups: the pastor search committee, the volunteer music team, and the deacons. The music team meeting was held in the fellowship hall, a detached brick building with a canopy supported by a short wall. Our kids and I waited outside under the canopy with one of the older deacons and his wife, who were both on the pastor search committee. I guess boredom set in, because I turned around just in time to see our eight-year-old daughter up on the short wall performing Alan Jackson’s song, “Chattahoochee,” complete with the line about the “hoochie coochie.” Her audience was the deacon and his wife. I wanted to crawl under something. When I turned back around, the couple was dying of laughter. The church called my husband as the pastor in spite of her performance.
I learned an important lesson that day, and I am glad that I learned it early on. Each of our three children has their own unique personality. In other words, they are who they are. What their father does in his career has absolutely nothing to do with that.
I remember a time when this same daughter was in a class at church, a different church from the one mentioned above. The teacher asked a question about the Bible, and no one answered. She looked at my daughter and said, “You should know the answer. You’re the preacher’s daughter.” I think that did more to harm my daughter than anything else ever said to her inside the church walls. She never went back to the class.
I tell that story with my daughter’s permission to make the point that the pastor’s children are just that: children. They are not mini-pastors who read the Bible and sing Christian songs all day long. They are individuals just like everyone else’s children. Psalm 139:14 says we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Raise your children to love Jesus, and make it known to your congregation that they are individuals and should be treated the same as other children in the church. As long as your kids are not doing something immoral or illegal, let them be who God made them to be. We raised three children, and all of them have grown up just fine!
Maleah Bell is a freelance editor and pastor’s wife. She and her husband make their home in Middle Tennessee.