When Dave decided to become a pastor, way back when we were in our early twenties and newly married, some friends tried to convince us not to do it. They said if Dave became a pastor our kids would be really messed up, so for their sake we shouldn’t go into vocational ministry.
Yes, we knew that a lot of pastor’s kids turned away from God and got into a lot of worldly trouble – at least for a time. But we also knew of a lot who grew up honoring God and walking closely with Him. So we decided we weren’t going to follow our friends’ advice. We felt God calling us into the ministry and we were going to follow that leading. But we also made an important commitment to each other and to any future kids we might have.
Before our first child was even born, we promised to never expect anything of our kids simply because they were “the pastor’s kids.” If we ever found ourselves thinking “Oh, they have to _______” or “they can’t _______” simply because we were worried about what the church would think, then we would immediately switch to the other side of the issue. Whether it related to clothes or attending events or whatever. We would try to make being PKs a privilege instead of a set of do’s and don’ts that had been added on to their lives simply because their dad was a pastor.
On the other hand, if the expectation was coming from God and was based on the fact that we are followers of Jesus, then that would be okay. Or if the expectation was based on the fact that we are Gudgels and Gudgels do this or don’t do that, then that would also be okay. And we really tried to make sure those Gudgel Expectations were based on God’s Expectations.
Our kids are all grown up now, and as I look back I think we did a pretty good job with all that. Though our kids may have showed up at church in some unusual outfits sometimes, or didn’t attend some church events or programs, for the most part they grew up enjoying being PKs. And they grew up understanding the difference between making decisions to please men and making decisions to please God.
Even if you aren’t in vocational ministry, it’s important that you understand – and help your children understand – the difference between pleasing men and pleasing God. There are all kinds of rules and expectations that “religious” people and organizations and books and blogs will try to tack on to your lives. But the bottom line needs to focus on one main thing…
What does God want from me?
The Old Testament tells us that God wants us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8) And in the New Testament Jesus Himself tells us that the bottom line can be found in two expectations that God has for us: love God and love others. (Matthew 22:34-40) That’s it.
So the next time you find yourself facing an expectation that’s being placed on you or your kids, stop and think before you make any decisions. Who are you trying to please? And what does God want from you?
by Bernice Gudgel