You’ve seen my family before (and they show up on the right side of this page). They’re truly my joy. These three boys keep Courtney and me going (crazy, at times, but that still can be filed under “going”).
I had lunch with a friend last week and he asked me a great question: What are you doing to keep your kids from being the usual preacher kids? Interesting question. I haven’t actually codified anything, and I don’t think I have done this long enough to codify anything, but I do have a few principles I go by that I thought I’d share for the fun of it.
I KNOW MY ROLE CHANGES THINGS FOR THE KIDS.
I use sermon illustrations that involve my family (though if you’ve noticed I rarely, if ever, use their names anymore), my kids are asked about always by the congregation, our Christmas letter is full of kid info, and much of my life is put before people each week. It creates an environment where people know my family and children better than my family or children often know them. They did not sign up for that, but that is part of the ministry in which we participate. I can’t deny what that does, but I can work against some of the negative consequences.
I PASTOR A GREAT CHURCH.
I do fight against expectations, it comes with the territory. However, the people of the Oaks and the staff and leadership of the Chapel have never put an expectation on me, Courtney, or my kids to be something that they can’t or shouldn’t be. That, friends, is a great blessing. It makes everything I do easier.
I SEEK CONSISTENCY.
I can’t remember where I heard it, but I believe it: be the same person in front of people and behind closed doors. One of the struggles I think some preacher kids have is seeing dad one way in public and another way in private. I’m not even sure how to do that, so it isn’t a huge problem. In fact, I try and reverse that impression for my own kids (see the point below).
I GIVE MY KIDS MY BEST.
I’m at the office a lot, people from the church are in the home often, and I am currently gone about a month a year away from Courtney and the boys. Still, I want the kids to get my best. That means work—sermons, meetings, and (yes, at times) people—do not get the best of me. That’s a call I’m comfortable with. It changes how time is spent, likely changes people’s perception of me, but it is worth it. Come over right now and you’ll see our usual dinner table covered with bins of colored Legos. We’ve been organizing and rebuilding the Lego City since Christmas. I come home and the boys are ready to build. We build, eat dinner, do whatever else, throw stuffed animals at each other, read the Bible, act out the stories, pray, and head to bed. I might sneak back out after that and go write for school, but I don’t want that task to greatly affect their night. Along with that, we have pretty regular rhythms of family time away such as Pine Cove Family Camp in the summer, and trips with other family members at different holidays. We’re in the memory making business.
Talk to me in fifteen or twenty years and I’ll tell you how it actually worked out. Talk to me in one or two years and I’ll let you know if anything has changed. I’m sure it will (for the better, I pray).