By Heidi Goehmann
This August we were driving “down south” to visit my husband’s sister and her family for a much needed family vacation.
The drive was lengthy and we had already gone through all our books on CD so we cranked up the volume on a local Christian radio station.
Between every song, advertisements for a special conference came up over and over again. We heard them for the whole week we were there, and I tell you, I could recite them by heart.
This conference was important for someone to hear about. Near the end of the week it struck me that this particular conference wasn’t for adults, instead it was for pastor’s kids, still living at home.
I turned to my daughter, age twelve in the backseat, and said, “Wow, a whole conference just for pastor’s kids! Is that really necessary?”
My sweet daughter was oddly quiet. I looked back at her from my seat next to my husband driving, “Do you think of yourself as a pastor’s kid?”
In my mind, she was just like any other kid- bright, fun, beginning to get past the grouchy stage of early adolescence…beautiful, a child of God, redeemed, transformed, and made new.
The only thing different between her and another child of God her age, in my mind, was that she was tall for her age and had a special gift for loving any person, of any age, at any time.
But that doesn’t answer the question does it, for Macee*. “Do you think of yourself as a pastor’s kid?” I asked again. From the backseat came the small answer,”Everyday, Mom. Everyday.”
As I sat back and contemplated her response and my apparent lack of understanding of the life of a PK (never being one myself), I recalled a different conversation in our house three years prior.
My daughter, broken hearted, needing a friend, feeling unloved and unworthy came to me in tears, “People just think we’re weird, Mom. Everyone thinks we’re different.”
At the time I thought her questions, this conversation was just about us, just about our family’s zest for individuality and zeal for uniqueness.
In the car, with the PK conference advertisement blaring, I realized this: it’s not about me, it’s not about our family, it’s about the church and that weird place we sometimes put church work families.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 may give us some unexpected insight.
9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more…
This verse applies to children in the church as well as adult brothers and sisters. Every child brought to church is a vital member of the Body of Christ. Children grow up in the Church, and in the local congregation. My child is no different. The church around them teaches them who they are in Christ and where they fit in God’s kingdom.
As we love one another, let us love each child. Let us love our pastors, our church workers, our members and our children equally, no favoritism and no extra expectations. It is easy to raise the bar for our workers, but they are sinners, just as each of us are. It is easy to expect more from the pastor’s family, but they receive the same redemption we do, no more no less.
We can love our church children by avoiding assumptions- what their joys are, what they struggle with. We can extend the love of Christ to them by getting to know them individually, PK, DCEK, or otherK. They are each beautiful, precious, and unique.
Their love for Jesus comes not just from the home they are raised in, but the church that helps bring them to the waters of baptism, strengthens them in the Word and confession and absolution, and shares grace and fellowship with them at the Lord’s table. Mostly, love is shown by this –
Don’t love them for who you think they should be, love them for who they are.
How do we create churches who love and uplift their pastor’s kids and all their kids? Love and uplift them…as individuals! Celebrate their unique gifts. Notice who they are, not in relation to who is their parent, but in relation to who God made them to be. This is how our children learn that the church is a place to grow and be loved and desire to stay there and flourish.