Many articles tell the difficulties and stresses that come upon a minister's family and I have even experienced some of these as the daughter and wife of a minister. But we must keep things in perspective. Some of these very same stressful conditions and trials are shared by the spouses of physicians, truck drivers, lawyers and business administrators, not to mention a few more problems that they have which we don't face.
Being a PK, rather than being a burden of awesome proportion is actually a privilege. I should know. I'm a PK, my husband is a PK, our children are PKs and, its been that way for generations. Now I don't want you to think that we are privileged or special just because Gordon and I are third-generation Adventist ministers. Yet, we do feel privileged to know that we are part of an organization that is dedicated to bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and knowing that our grandfathers preached the same message years ago which our fathers have preached for forty years and which we continue to share through our own outreach.
And what about our children? How do we keep them from feeling strange, different or "put on parade" because they are minister's children? We have tried as a family to make the ministry a special and wonderful part of our family life. I'd like to share with you nine reasons why I feel that being in the ministry has been a blessing to me and my family. These are among the reasons why I think PK means "privileged kid!"
1. The ministry has taught each member of our family to be hospitable, caring more for others needs than for our own. Some of us come by hospitality naturally, others of us must work to develop this gift. But regardless of how we started out, each of us have learned to enjoy putting the comforts and feelings of others first.
2. The ministry was never crammed down my throat as a child. My parents never made statements like "you cannot do this because it will make your father lookbad." The reason for not doing an action or choosing a particular activity was because it was wrong, not because it might impact Dad's career. With our own children, we have tried to use statements like "what you do reflects on what people believe about God and what people think you believe about God." Instead of being worried about their father's reputation, we want our children to be concerned about God's reputation.
3. Our children and I try to travel with Gordon as much as possible. Trips and vacations are very special times when all of us can be together making good memories. Most Adventist ministers have more opportunities to travel than many of their members. This is especially true for departmental and administrative workers who can turn the handicap of being so often away from home into an advantage. We use some of the required travel as family time and sandwich fun time in between meetings, etc.
I once read about a family who enjoyed a very close relationship. Even as young adults the children enjoyed being with their parents, and vice versa. The parents had put a high priority on building 'memories" rather than building things. When the neighbors were putting additions onto their homes, this family was taking a skiing vacation and making a memory. They never did get the bathroom remodeled, but when the kids got together, they didn't remember the shabby bathroom or the too-small house. They couldn't stop talking about the wonderful times they had all enjoyed together.
4. Like many other jobs, the ministry is very demanding. There is a certain instability of location or length of assignment inherent for Adventist pastors. Children, on the other hand, need a stable, solid basis while growing up. My mother provided that solid, warm, "always there" feeling when Dad couldn't be with us. Gordon and It to make certain that one of us is always available on a daily basis for our children. Amid the frantic pace in which we work, play, travel and worship, my child ren need to know that there is someone who puts them first and who is always there. They must have a rock of security, a listening ear, upon whom they can depend. I chose to make that one of my priorities while they were still at home.
5 When I was growing up, my parents never talked about problems in the church or "problem people" around their children. Consequently, I grew up with a positive attitude toward the church, its organization and its pastors and members. I was taught that God still works through the church and its committees. Even though I realize that not all is perfect in the church, I don't have a cynical or critical attitude. We arc hoping to instill this same confidence in our own children.
6. Growing up as a pastor's child helps you understand the minister is not on the pedestal that some people expect. When members have unrealistic expectations of clergy—that they have achieved perfection or a re beyond encountering difficulties—then it is easy for them to become disillusioned when we are not always perfect. As a pastor's child, I realize that we are simply weak vessels willing to be used by God to accomplish His plan of proclaiming the gospel.
7. Minister's children receive a first hand knowledge of witnessing and they should be included in our work of evangelism. This is the best way to get their hearts involved in the ministry of caring for those who are not members of our church. One of my best childhood memories is going to Bible studies with my family. We would all have something special to eat and then we would study the Scriptures together.
Our own family conducted a Revelation Seminar. Each evening our son would help Gordon with the presentation and our daughter assisted with greeting and record keeping. Several young people attended and our children were very interested in their becoming involved with the church. When decisions were being made, our son wanted to know when "we" could baptize these people. His dad took Tim into the baptismal pool with him during the baptism and he had the dedicatory prayer. Our children enjoyed being a real part of that soul-winning experience.
8. Pastor's children get a broad view of the church and its mission. Many of them are world travelers which gives them a more balanced picture of our church's work around the world. Seeing this worldwide work and experiencing its trials and blessings helps to instill a special mission in our children's hearts.
9. One of the blessings which I cherish from my own youth is the involvement I had in the close relationships between my family and the church family. In a ministry of serving, when you truly give, you receive until your cup is full and overflowing. What other church family gets so many invitations to dinner, has their garden plot plowed for them or gets so many cookies and baked goodies at Christmas time. Their love and trust is a precious trust we must not betray.
As ministerial families, let's talk and act positive about our lifestyle. Let's pass on this beautiful Adventist heritage to our children—the privileged kids!