Something I Want My Kids To Know About Vocational Ministry

I write this one with some hesitation. People complain about ministry online. Perhaps they want sympathy? I don’t care about getting sympathy. People are sometimes unfair to families in ministry, but there are also incomparable blessings that others not in ministry do not have. I see himself as quite blessed. That’s why I don’t care about sympathy. I do not need it! I will admit though that being understood is nice.

I know you didn’t choose to be pastors’ kids, and that might make it seem unfair when people hold you to a higher standard than their own kids and sometimes even themselves. You might feel like you live in a fishbowl. But there are also many times in which because you were the pastors' kids, certain others blessed you with things because your family was a blessing to them. You know the things I’m talking about. Many people are so sweet to you. I want you to never ignore the blessings of ministry life simply because some things seem unfair. I know you might not remember much of life when I was full-time in the secular workforce back in 2012. I wish you did because this is much better.

It might seem like a surprise to people at your church that your family sometimes gets an unfair shake because they don’t see it when it happens. It’s most times, not the people that stay that are unjust. It’s often the ones that have left. Nailing the pastor and/or his family on the way out is often the easiest thing people can do. They want to feel morally justified in leaving a place where spiritual growth is likely to happen to them, so they have to vilify the easiest target - the pastor and sometimes his family even if we didn’t do anything wrong. Many people happily attend church and have no idea that this goes on.

So, yes, it seems unfair. Sure, not everyone does that, but it’s common enough to be uncanny, and I’ve not been in ministry very long in the grand scheme of things. It will happen many more times if the Lord tarries.

These are all things I never knew about pastors despite growing up around them. Then I became one. I never saw behind the scenes. You need to develop the character to get through these injustices without becoming bitter, jaded, and disenfranchised about church. That’s the response of lesser men. The Lord will straighten all of it out on that day. Hang on until then.

Just know that pastors and their families who are worth something accept this process because they understand that in a microcosm way, God lets New Testament shepherds experience an infinitesimally small slice of what Jesus experienced- false accusations, being rejected, and not defending yourself. And it’s a high honor to get even just a taste of what Jesus felt even if it’s almost so small as to not be comparable to His sufferings. It’s like getting an insider view.

Most of the time, I don’t like talking about these things because I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining or looking for sympathy. Many pastors have worse scenarios than I do. The only difference between reporting and complaining is the attitude in which it’s done. I hope you can tell which of those I’m doing here.

I just don’t want you to become jaded about vocational ministry in case the Lord someday calls you to the same. But it is important to have the right perspective. Ministry will test your love and commitment to the Lord, your integrity, and your character in a multitude of ways - sometimes ways that feel unfair. But I hope you can learn to see that as an acceptable trade-off. If you do things right, you will grow more in vocational ministry than you did before vocational ministry.

I remember before ministry was ever a thought in my mind, that I prayed that the Lord would grow me and mature me as much as a man can be grown. The Lord’s answer to that was to begin by calling me into vocational ministry. If the Lord gives me a full lifetime of this there will be much more stretching and growing to be done if I cooperate Him. I’m called to it. So no matter what others may say or do, it is a blessed vocation.