Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Expectations of the Pastor - Part whatever #

In a Bible study this week, a fellow pastor came up with a theory. He surmised that the reason many pastors' kids (henceforth "PKs") run amok is because they don't have a pastor. His theory went something like this: Whereas most people see their pastor as somehow being "above" them and "perfect" (or darn close to it), PKs see their pastor as they really are. Instead of the "I've got it all together" face that the congregation gets to see on Sunday morning, the PK sees the "I'm exhausted, get out of my face" face on Sunday night. Instead of the patient answer-giver the congregation sees in counseling sessions, the PK sees the not-so-patient dad or mom who's at the end of his/her rope.

His point seemed to at least suggest that putting a pastor on a pedestal might be a good thing. I think the opposite. I value authenticity highly - this is why after having a really rough night with the baby, I asked the congregation for extra prayers: because I was tired, and on my own, I would have stumbled and mumbled my way through the entire service. This doesn't mean that I just lay out my shortcomings (or celebrate them or, worse, glorify them), but it does mean that I'm honest about them.
I think more of the problem is caused by the expectations of the pastor - both from the congregation and from the pastor himself (or herself). If a pastor believes he/she is the savior of the congregation/community, the workload increases exponentially. If the congregation expects the pastor to be their savior, likewise. If these expectations are out of whack, it's going to seriously affect the pastor's family. Boundaries (or the lack thereof), likewise affect PKs. If the pastor never has time for the PK, what does that say to the PK? It says that the church is more important than the child. It says that religion is more important than relationship. It tells the PK that his (her) parent values the institutional church more than the family.
But doesn't Jesus say that His mother and His brothers are those who hear His word and obey it? This is some food for thought, but I don't think it has bearing on this discussion. He also said that it's better to be drowned than to be a stumbling block to a little one...


Chuckinator said...

A very insightful theory. I'm sure you have seen many examples of this at play in your time in the minestry. Learn from others mistakes to reduce the chance of your kids suffering the same plight.

The Sister said...

Die-hard Lutherans quote Martin Luther as having said something to the effect of, "If you sin, sin boldly."
Now while I'm not advocating going out and gettin' craaaazy, one does have to acknowledge that pastors and clergypersons are human beings -- and those clergy members need to acknowledge it too!
But if a pastor doesn't care for his/her own family -- WHO WILL???

shay said...

It's good to be honest with the people we work with. But (you're very right) not in a self-serving/glorifying way. I have quite a few pK friends at work, and there's one in particular that really struggles with his dad b/c of how his dad is put on this pedestal and goes his own way w/o regard for his kids' thoughts or feelings. Long story, but that's kinda the gist.

And thanks for the encouragement as of late!

Dunce said...

Is it really true that PKs run amok more than "non-PKs"? Maybe people just have higher expectations for PKs, so that instances of bad behavior are attributed to "yet another PK gone wild" instead of just the usual ups and downs of growing up.

I agree with you about pedestals. IMO pedestals are for statues and the Pope.