In a life of ministry, a pastor’s children can come under tremendous pressure.
Being a pastor’s kid is no easy task. They often feel the burden of living as “ideal Christians” to meet the unrealistic expectations of people in the church. People forget they need the same grace to be saved and sanctified as adults do.
Sometimes pastor’s kids will unfairly face the brunt of a church member’s disappointments or disagreements with the pastor. All these unwanted pressures set the table for Satan to feast on their fall.
In the face of such pressures, praying for your children is the best way to care for them.
Managing the Church and the Home
Pastoring and parenting can be good friends but sometimes they are terrible enemies. Like all people, pastors have limitations. If they exhaust their grace and patience with people in church, they have very little left for their family. Similarly, if they prioritise family over ministry, the church feels the lack of their leadership.
Balancing parenthood with pastoral ministry can be difficult. But pastoral care for God’s church begins in the home. Paul teaches us that an overseer “must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church” (1 Tim. 3:4-5).
So how can pastors approach praying for their children?
Only Through the Power of God
Parenting is a spiritual battle that requires pastors to turn and pray “to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Eph. 3:20).
Only the power of the Triune God can redeem the relationship between parenting and pastoring. Only through the power of God can a pastor and his children say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).
As a pastor with two energetic young boys, I understand the tension in managing the home and the church. You often feel like you are fighting two different battles. Some days, it feels like you are losing on both fronts.
I relate to Paul when he says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). Thankfully, nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ—not even pastoral limitations nor parental weaknesses (Rom. 8:38-39).
Watch Yourself Closely
The pastoral task is a noble duty (1 Tim. 3:1). It requires you to pay close attention to yourself, your doctrine, and your family (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:1-7). It requires studying, teaching, and modelling the word (1 Tim. 4:11-16). It requires prayerfully shepherding and nurturing people under your care (John 10:11; 1 Thess. 2:7-8).
Furthermore, It requires you to fight unexpected and unseen spiritual and psychological battles that will leave you bruised, battered, and broken (Acts 20:29; 2 Cor. 11:24 -28).
The pastoral task requires your whole soul, mind, heart, and body—not only for the church but also for the home.
His Grace is Sufficient For You
Who is equipped or capable of such tasks? To answer that question Paul says, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,” (2 Cor. 3:5, 4:7).
Pastors must learn that his grace is sufficient for us. We need to turn to God for the sufficiency and power to fulfil our responsibilities well. We need to draw the energy, capacity, and competency from our Heavenly Father. Our source of strength is not in ourselves but in his infinite arms.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit
Most pastors would love to receive more gifts from the Holy Spirit—faith, healing, miracles. However, what we need is not more gifts of the Spirit but more fruit of the Spirit.
We mature by abiding in the Vine so that we might bear much fruit (John 15:4-5). So when our children need our attention amid a busy ministry life, we are able to relate to them with patience, kindness, and gentleness.
Dear pastors, we must constantly ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit so that we might bear much fruit. The Holy Spirit will empower us to love the church and our children.
Pray for the Faith of Your Children
Children are a gift from God. Author and pastor Paul Tripp says they are entrusted to us for God to accomplish what he wills. We should thank God daily for the gift of children, especially on hard days.
Like all of us, pastors’ children are fallen sinners. They need regeneration by the Holy Spirit and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They need to know Jesus personally. We cannot assume they know God because they belong to a pastor’s family. Their participation in family devotion, church, and various ministries is no guarantee of their faith.
We should pray each day that God would draw them closer to Jesus. We should pray they would follow God, not out of familial obligation but genuine faith and love.
Pray for Their Protection
Satan is not friendly towards Christians. He strongly desires to devour the pastor and his family. Children are vulnerable and fragile. A pastor cannot always protect his children from harm.
We should pray for God to protect our children from temptation, false witness, and for deliverance from evil (Matt. 6:13). Satan knows the Scriptures well and he is waiting for our children to fall. Are you praying for God to put a hedge around your children to protect them? (Job 1:9-11)
Pray for Their Uniqueness to Be Honoured
Every child is unique. Their uniqueness and identity come from God, their Creator. So we should welcome and nurture every child in the church, with respect to their uniqueness.
Being a pastor’s child will influence how people treat them. Sooner or later, people will want to limit their identity to their father’s vocation. But a pastor’s child is a child of God. They are created and saved for his glory. A pastor’s child should not feel the pressure to follow in their earthly father’s footsteps. We should pray that as parents and as a church, we are able to acknowledge and communicate this uniqueness to them.
As pastors, we should pray for our children to find godly mentors and friends, in family and in church. It can also be helpful to seek godly influences from the wider Christian community.
Pray for the Gospel to Take Root in Their Hearts
Finally, we need to pray for God to make our children feel accepted. They need to know their acceptance does not come from satisfying the expectations of their church or even their family. They need to know their good works cannot save them any more than they can save us. Pray for them to know that their acceptance only comes from God through faith in Christ alone.
In praying for our children, we pray with hope in God alone who “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20–21).