As a Pastor’s kid – I have been there and done that.
Strictly speaking, I may be classified as a specialist in terms of total ministry exposure. What changed my life was the realization that ministry exposure is absolutely different from ministry involvement.
Passive or even active participation is just the tip of the iceberg. Living with commitment and passion for souls and a heart for Jesus is a totally different matter-even for a pastor’s kid. I share my story because it speaks of how God transformed a mundane Pastor’s kid to become a living, breathing and fruit bearing Christian.
I grew up in a Baptist Church. I was born to its church-planter pastor and his Christian educator wife. They were already blessed with three children and I was conceived rather unexpectedly. Nonetheless, I was the baby in the family, the recipient of countless hand-me-down from toys, dresses, and even books. We even experienced firsthand to actually not have any money, pause to pray for provision, and then actually see God supplying our every need. We witnessed it too often, and that is perhaps why we almost took it for granted.
I have witnessed countless “behind the scenes” moments of what it is really like a few hours before the speaker delivers the sermon. I knew how to behave inside the church so as not to disturb other church members. Expectations always ran high as far as we were concerned. After all, “anak naman sila ni Pastor” (translation: they are, after all they are pastor’s kids), they should exhibit proper behavior. It was not an easy role. I guess you could aptly describe our family as “modern-day Levites” because it was rather common to have several uncles, cousins and other family members engaged in and actively training, or are directly involved for full time evangelical ministry.
How did this Pastor’s kid learn the routine?
My own academic environment was also strictly “Christian and biblical”, having had to memorize the portions of the Bible in chapters not verses, and my own Dad having me memorize and recite as a declamation piece, “The Book of Habakkuk”. Learning and understanding hymns were taught in school, so you could expect me to fairly and accurately name a hymn, given the first few measures. I was also taught the song that made it easier to remember the chronology of books from Genesis to Malachi. I also know the other song that begins with,
“Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and it ends with….”Jude and Revelation”.
As a pastor’s kid, I was also taught how to use Strong’s concordance and Matthew Henry’s commentaries. We had our very own library at home, and we were encouraged to study on our own. The bottom line is, I was so loaded with so much information at home, in school and especially at church.
Let me paint the picture further. Every week or so, we had family devotions and most of my memories of it are fuzzy other than the fact that I found it hard to comprehend and easier to give an excuse that it was late and that I was sleepy. Since I got scolded for yawning, I learned that fear for my Dad was an effective eye opener.
Every Sunday during lunch or dinner, we would be orally quizzed with what was the sermon outline and the scripture text used by the speaker during the morning service. This exercise taught me the valuable skill of listening intently, extracting the outline and taking notes down. It especially helped whenever the speaker gave out outline clues like, “firstly, secondly.. and lastly”. At home, whenever our chores were half-heartedly completed, you could expect to be exhorted with,
“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might…”
I was routinely “checked” as a Pastor’s kid.
It did not end there. My mom and dad would check us during meals if we had our personal devotions or quiet time by checking which books of the Bible we had already finished, and what specific lessons or applications we could glean from them. Perhaps it was this very aptitude that gave way to the “Oh, I know that…” attitude. Bible quizzes were a breeze. I remember the excitement of already knowing the lesson that the assigned Sunday School teacher had prepared and “smart-aleckly” exposing that in front of the entire class, thereby successfully demolishing the logical build up that the teacher so painstakingly hoped for. As I grew older, I continued to be part of various church ministries – worship, teaching and even evangelism.
For a Pastor’s kid, was this good enough?
I look back and I see a record that the record of this pastor’s kid was “good enough”. I grew up in knowledge but did I grow up in grace? Was it a life of excellence? I honestly doubted that. Deep in my heart, there remained a longing and a lack of assurance of salvation. It was a question that bugged me, “How can I actually be sure that I am saved?” The irony of it all was that I knew which verses to look up, but still it felt dry and tasteless. I was not getting the peace I was yearning for. I looked at my life, and I am relatively better off than my peers.
But in terms of bearing fruit of good works, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and self-control, I, the pastor’s kid, was sorely lacking. I was very complacent and disobedient to His Word. Now I realize it – I was proud, rebellious, belligerent, short-tempered, harboured grudges, anxious and discontent to say the least. My conversational clichés and TV program preferences were not much different from my unbelieving friends. My jokes and wisecracks were just as sarcastic, as hurting and damaging as the person who was not exposed at all to the gospel.
Then it hit hard – I knew a lot theoretically, but whether they sunk deep in my heart was an entirely different issue altogether. My being a pastor’s kid had actually nothing to do with my personal relationship with God. My love for the Lord Jesus seemed to be temporary, conditional and even elusive at time. It took even longer to admit the painful truth
– that I, the pastor’s kid was in love more with myself than the One who gave loved me and gave Himself for me.
It took years for this pastor’s kid to give up my life entirely to the Lordship of my Saviour. I could exhaust myself recalling all the religious activities I have been through, but evidently none of those even mattered because they laid there as filthy rags. I had wasted so many years. The turning point was realizing that I did not even deserve to be forgiven. That hit hard! I was that desperate. I was devoid of any hope for my sin apart from Christ. Who was I kidding? God is infinite, omnipotent and omniscient! Out of the generations and millions, even billions out there, Jesus had chosen me to be His own, and He has shed His own blood to secure my eternity. I dare not question that out of reverence. Instead, I cherish it with much gratitude.
For those of us who grew in the church, especially in the case of a pastor’s kid, we lose sight of the fact of the starting and ending point of it all. We are actually zero. Jesus is 100%. I learned to keep focus and keep the cross of Christ always the main thing. Whenever I get distracted, I remind myself again that
I am a big ZERO, Christ is the 100%.
I believe it is a blessing to be born to strict, disciplined and God fearing parents. What began from my “compliance” was a seed that grew to become a heart that actually sought to please and love Him. We do not get to choose who our parents or siblings will be, the economic circumstance of the family we will become part of, and even the very details of our lives – our gender, our intellectual abilities and even the depraved and desperate nature of our hearts. We can however, be endlessly assured and comforted that God is sovereign in all our lives.
I look back at all those wasted years and weep in embarrassment before God. It did not matter that much to Him whether I graduated with or without honours, which university I graduated from or how many degrees I earned. It did not even matter much whether or not I was pretty enough or what sort of family I married into. Jesus loved me regardless of my failures and successes. Jesus loved me as much whether i was a pastor’s kid or not. He is just so merciful and He has blessed me immensely.
He has chosen me to be His very own. He has done and continues to do whatever it takes to break me, subdue me and mold me so that I will be conformed to His Holiness.
The only thing I boast of now of, is how God has graciously forgiven and restored me. He has given so much more than I could ever ask for or imagine. He has blessed me with a husband loves Him more than he loves me. And that is just awesome because our marriage does not rest in our hands, but in His! We are blessed to have experienced what it meant to give our best resources until it hurt. We are blessed to witness initial “reaping” where we have become part of the “sowing”. We have been blessed with two amazing children when we thought we would have none.
The joy you experience from a life of obedience is just indescribable. Furthermore, he has blessed us with both an earthly and spiritual family that we can look forward to seeing in eternity. When you realize this as a pastor’s kid on your own, and in a real and personal way, – it is really something else!
It is riveting to read of scripture telling of people who act religiously yet deny the very power that can make them godly. It is essential to understand that I may actually have every form of godliness yet actually deny the power of Christ. Now, that really fits into the “life scenarios” of a pastor’s kid. It is a disturbing possibility to grow up in the church yet never become part of the Body of Christ. It is most shameful on the day of reckoning to know what the Great Commission was and not even recall a single account of actually going all out for it. It is ironic to call Jesus your Lord when your personal budgets and expenditures are dictated by preferences not commitments.
I have been there and it was my personal experience as a pastor’s kid to be in the “thick of things” yet missing the King of Kings. If you read this as one who grew up in the church, most likely being a pastor’s kid, I pray that you will not stop examining your heart to see if you are truly in a real relationship with the Lord Jesus.
If you are involved in close mentoring relationships with pastors’ kids, do take time to disciple them because they are often “assumed Christians” before they are actually “assured Christians”.
If you are feeling dry and parched, take all the time it takes to drink fresh from His Word and satisfy your hunger there. It never fails to fill you to overflowing. Yes, especially for a pastor’s kid.