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Letters from a Pastor’s Wife: My Son’s Hero

This is the third post in the “Letter’s from a Pastor’s Wife” series. The first is HERE and the next is HERE.

A highlight of the recent conference with my son’s second grade teacher was the wall outside the classroom. The “hero assignment” was on display complete with a drawing and written description of each child’s hero. And my son wrote about his dad.

Sometimes it’s hard to parent pastor’s kids. There’s a confluence of factors that make it feel different from other parenting situations.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, lots of people know who we are, so I find myself wanting to please or impress others with the behavior of my kids. My perfectionism kicks in, and I become overly sensitive to those around me. Worship becomes like a Target trip on steroids—plenty of people we know around to observe both my kids’ behavior and my own handling of it.

Because we are the pastor’s family, I feel like we should be doing it right. What’s it, exactly? Well, living the Christian life, raising godly children, loving our neighbors, you name it.

We’ve all heard stories of pastor’s kids, right? The stories I’ve heard often fall into two extremes: the kids end up in vocational ministry themselves or rejecting the faith altogether. So heaping pressure on them to act a certain way, to be examples for others, or to be perfect, will likely backfire. My own desires to control my kids notwithstanding, it’s far better to cultivate in them a love for God and God’s people than to leave them with memories of stiff collars and shushing.

It’s easy to get caught up in my own expectations and those of other people around me when I think about my kids and their behavior. And then I miss what God is doing in their lives and in their hearts. On Thanksgiving, I was sitting with my kids in the balcony while my husband led worship. All around me were extended families gathered together. And I felt alone. My daughter was cranky and impatient with her less-than-perfect drawings, so the sermon was punctuated with grunts and crumpling of paper. I was not feeling thankful.

But then I remembered my son’s hero description. Here’s what he wrote:

My hero is my dad because he’s a pastor. He preaches about God. He leads worship. He guides us in the truth of the Bible.

My kids get to participate in worship led by their dad—what a gift! This hero in their lives teaches people how to know God. They trust their dad, and their hearts are open to the gospel. May I remember that my children are blessed.

God, give me the grace to relax and receive the gift it is to parent the children of a pastor. Help me to see how you are at work in the hearts of my children far beyond the temporal tantrums and paper-crumpling. Help me to model what it means to parent with love, grace, and acceptance and to let go of worry and concern about what others think. Thank you for my son’s hero. Amen.

Anna Moseley Gissing

Anna Moseley Gissing is Associate Academic Editor of InterVarsity Press. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, and her writing has been published in Let us Keep the Feast and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two kids, and she aspires to more reading, more writing, and more patience.

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