A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer. –Bruce Lee
People ask questions. Some appropriate, some inappropriate. Some thoughtful, some downright stupid. I have to admit that as I’ve aged I’ve noticed that I’m often on the receiving end of very polite queries (because being 40-something has its perks?) Gone are the days of fielding ridiculous questions from peers. Adios, unseemly questions from guys. It seems like the only people with a license to ask me anything personal has been narrowed down to family and a few close friends. It’s not that I’m anti-question…I just think for the most part my matronly disposition wins out–“respect your elders” and all that. I wouldn’t even be entertaining the topic of questions if it hadn’t come up recently. And when I went to file it away in my little brain I realized that I put it in a folder that I’ve labeled “My Least Favorite Question,” and let me tell you…this file is getting thick.
The funny thing about this file is that My Least Favorite Question has nothing to do with me and everything to do with my kids. I’m trying to decide if I’m overreacting…and if nothing else, just get to the root of why it bothers me so much. So here it is. My heart absolutely sinks when people ask my kids, “Are you going to be a Pastor like your Dad when you grow up?” It probably doesn’t sound like much but it’s bothered me for years and now that my kiddos are getting older (tween & teen,) it actually bothers me more. I mean, if your mom’s a teacher does that mean you’re going into education? If your dad sells insurance is that your child’s assumed destiny? Not necessarily, right? So hear me out. I would love for my children to go into the ministry! What an amazing blessing it would be to see my children choose to serve the church full-time. I would be so incredibly proud if they opted to attended seminary/Bible college and become ordained clergy. I can think of nothing better. Still I cringe when people ask…mostly because I think it is unfair. Unfair…and maybe even detrimental to their faith development.
If you have a minute just google “pastors kids” or “PKs.” There’s a lot more out there than I expected…and most of it negative. Despite the stereotypes, I’ve tried really hard to raise “regular” kids. “Regular” kids who go to church. I remind them that they are loved by God, created for a purpose, and gifted with talents and abilities. These are things that I think all parents should say to their children. They are not more special than anyone else, set aside or placed on any sort of pedestal. They are works in progress (as we all are) and yet in a recent conversation I’ve discovered (again) that they have been placed in uncomfortable positions and asked faith questions that no youth should have to answer to. One child responds politely (perhaps because this child hasn’t been asked particularly difficult questions yet) while the other child has been asked about homosexuality, evolution vs. creation, validity of the Bible, and more. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t answer these questions as a kid…I’m not sure I want to debate these questions as an adult…let alone with someone older or in a more authoritative position than myself. It’s not right…and it never takes place while my husband and I are around.
In this latest exchange, my child was so put off by the questioning that the only way to move the conversation forward was to change the subject altogether. And for the first time, I sensed a weariness in the retelling…almost like this might not be worth it. God. Faith. Church. Often times, Christians are characterized as being judgemental, but I’m pretty sure it works both ways. I hate that this happened (again.) I can only imagine how uncomfortable this must be…to have what was a fun evening with friends, suddenly interrupted by an adult who puts you on the spot about what your Dad does for a living. So now I’m scrambling…for coping mechanisms and tools, for words and remedies. How can I make this better? How can I better prepare them? Being a Pastor is nothing to be ashamed of, neither is being a Christian or going to church. In a world where anything goes, why does this put my kiddos on the hot seat?
Here’s a newsflash…these kids didn’t choose their parent’s profession. These kids didn’t go to Bible college alongside their parents. And I’m pretty sure these kids aren’t giving sermons on Sunday morning. Today, I know of a handful of PKs who have left their faith…and statistics point to so many more like them. Each story varies but a couple of comments stick out like “glass house,” never feeling like a “regular kid,” and “negative experiences.” Countless blogs and articles have been written about these types of hurts. Intense feelings that lead them to walk away from God altogether. My heart sinks more. I’m not asking that you handle my children with kid-gloves. I’m asking that you not single them out, understand that they’re not Biblical scholars, and please stop asking them if they’re going into the ministry (because if they do, I’ll let you know. In fact, I’ll probably throw a party!) In the meantime, just let them be “regular” kids…”regular” kids who go to church.
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” Matthew 7:12