Last week, a near tragedy in the family of a pastor friend of mine started me wondering if preachers’ kids really deserve their reputation. I first did a quick search to see if I could find any hard data on the behavioral and psychological health of the children of ministers versus other children. I hoped I might find some kind of clinical study, though I suspect that if I had found it the bias would have been extreme.
I found some blogs and forum posts by preachers’ kids. I wasn’t that impressed. I read their stories of how they felt pressure to be especially good and how it made life harder for them among their friends. Some of them used that as an excuse for their rebellious behavior. I don’t doubt that those pressures and feelings exist. I don’t remember feeling particularly put upon because I was a preachers’ kid, but my siblings may see things differently. My final impression was of a bunch of psychobabble that allowed them to justify in their own minds the way they felt or what they did.
I found a couple of ministries devoted to preachers’ kids. They didn’t move me either. They seemed designed to affirm the kids’ feelings, treating them as if they really had a hard life. We do face some atypical challenges. There is a higher expectation of us. So what! High expectations are good! Did we sometimes get neglected in favor of church or ministry activities? Maybe, but how is that different than children of working parents in any profession? Some are more demanding than others, but that aspect of the life of a preacher’s kid isn’t unique. I’ll grant that few if any other professions so involve the family in the work. This isn’t just any job though. It is work that all Christians are called to in one way or another.
I didn’t find what I was looking for, so I’ll offer my own opinion. Someone wrote that preachers’ kids have a reputation for being really bad or really good. I suppose I would concur, but I am not sure the reputation is deserved in either case. More often we hear about the really bad. I think that is because there is a higher expectation of a minister’s children. When they don’t meet that expectation, it sticks out. I remain unconvinced that in reality preachers’ kids are any worse than others. In fact, I suspect that in terms of behavior, morality, and responsibility, they beat the averages. I didn’t say they were better or even good. We may have had better training, but ultimately we all must confront the sinful nature that defines us until we are redeemed by His blood. “There is none righteous, not even one.” We like everyone else must make a choice whether we will serve Jesus or serve ourselves, thereby serving Satan and receiving Satan’s punishment. “As for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh.”
I am thankful that I was raised by a preacher. I thank God regularly for the strong foundation upon which I base my life today. My father taught me to love Jesus, love people, and live with integrity. He taught me to pray, to feed on God’s Word, and to do what God tells me. I’m proud to be a preacher’s kid, and I wish everyone else had the same blessing.