Kamis, 29 September 2016

A Letter to My Sons About Pornography

A Letter to My Sons About Pornography

“Pornography misshapes your vision of girls, whether you realize it or not.”
My Dear Sons,
The eye beholds much good and evil in this life. Beholding leads to becoming. What we continually put before our eyes and minds will shape and determine who we are. Images either tell the truth or lie, but they all speak. On top of this, our natural eyes are lustful things not easily satisfied (1 John 2:16). One lustful look can change us. One look can feed the monster within so that it rears up its ugly head looking for more.
“Feed me,” he says. His appetite is fierce and unsatisfied. One look leads to another, and then to many more.
This is the kingdom of sexual lust—a world of soft porn and free porn—and secrets contained in cleared web browsers. What you behold, boys, you become. If you steep your tea too long, it becomes bitter. Likewise, if you sit and soak in pornographic fantasies, your life will have a bitter taste. At first the flavors might taste sweet, but bitterness will always be the end result. And the bitterness will be shared someday in your interactions with girls: how you think about girls, talk to girls, treat girls and pursue girls.

A Wicked Education in Sex

Pornography misshapes your vision of girls, whether you realize it or not. And one day, pornography might affect your future wife. The women gleaming on the computer screen may not directly feel the effects of your lust, but they will indirectly, as you fuel the industry that enslaves and trafficks them.
But the images cannot feel the painful grief and loss a wife feels when her husband’s hidden sins are inevitably revealed. I plead with you to not let the tea steep that long; to not let one look turn into thousands of looks over the course of years. If this happens, you will taste the bitterness, my sons, and you will want to spit it out.
Lust distorts the glory of both biblical manhood and womanhood; it goes against the divine mandate in the garden of Eden. Men are to care for women—and provide and protect with humble strength—not exploit and dominate. Women are strong, capable and your equal, not objects to be used and discarded.
But the porn industry diminishes both men and women, and reduces them all the way down to simple actors of animal lust for pixilation, instead of celebrating them as complex and glorious image-bearers of their Creator. This is the consumer society we live in, devaluing human beings as they’re offered up for consumption. The porn industry is lining online aisles with a sexual zoo for viewing pleasure.

A Far Better Place to Look

You, my sons, are called by God to reject sexual consumerism. You are called by Christ to seek pleasure in him, and to pour out your life in selfless giving to God and to others.
Jesus Christ is the opposite of pornography. Jesus lived a life of denial and sacrifice. No lust, ever. Sex for him was unnecessary, even as he imaged God perfectly. He became the least and the last in order to put us first. Pornography is self-exalting. It is putting your pleasures and desires first, before the glory of God and the good of others. Since Christ is the opposite of pornography, then look to Christ in your fight against sexual temptation and sin. When you behold Christ you will become like him.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Look upon his face, and pornography will begin to look strangely dim.

A Safe Place After Sexual Failure

When Moses asked God to show him his glory (Exodus 33:18), the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ had not yet been fully revealed. How much more glorious is it for you, when you ask God to show you his glory now after the cross and resurrection? You only have to read about this glory in God’s word, and meditate upon it in your hearts and minds. You will be changed. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).
And if you are drawn into the illicit pleasures of the Internet, remember the words of Robert Murray McCheyne, “For every look at yourself, take 10 looks at Christ.” One look at your sinful self calls for 10 looks at Christ nailed to a cross for you. Being in Christ is the only qualification we need to behold his glory, even after we have sinned. He alone is the cure and the prevention for your sin.

Be Thou My Vision

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:22:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”
A healthy eye connotes clear vision, and you will have a spiritually healthy way of looking at things (like the gift of sex). But your eyes can lie to you if you only see with them and not through them. The eye can distort your heart and mind if you are using it only to see what is directly in front of you. When your eyes are filled with the glory of God in Christ, you will clearly see through the distorting lies of lust.
Before Daddy and I had you boys, we planned our wedding. I wanted to play my favorite hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” before I walked down the aisle. My prayer was that Christ would always be my vision in marriage, but now that prayer surrounds you both as well. I pray Christ would be your vision in all of life—that your eyes would be filled with glory leading to truth and life and joy. What you put before your eyes will change you. May it fill you with light, and not darkness.
Your Mama   

Parenting With No Regrets

Parenting With No Regrets

Father and son talking while hikingby Robert Rogers
“Daddy, can we build a birdhouse today?” my 7-year-old daughter, Makenah, asked me early one Saturday morning as I was knee-deep in a “honey-do” project list.
“Well, … “ I hesitated. With a house and four children under 8, I had discovered that my project list never ended. I had tucked away the birdhouse instructions for weeks, after promising Makenah we would build it someday.
I paused a moment and took to heart my wife’s daily mantra: “Let’s make a memory.” Then without further hesitation, I decided that “someday” had just arrived.
“OK, Makenah. Let’s build that birdhouse.”
We spent the afternoon measuring, cutting and piecing together spare cedar planks in the garage. Makenah colored arrows, directing the birds to the food. As we worked, our talk drifted to home schooling.
After finishing first grade at the local school, Makenah had asked us to home school her. My wife and I had carefully selected a curriculum and started setting up the classroom in the basement for autumn.
I was curious. “Makenah, why do you want to be home-schooled?”
Her response astounded me. “I just like you guys. I like being home with our family.”
Amid the hustle and bustle of our birdhouse project, time stood still. We had just experienced a moment I’ll always treasure. Had I not set aside my agenda and taken several hours of my time to build that simple birdhouse, we never would have uncovered that wonderful moment.
Treasured moments
Seven weeks later, memories such as this one were all I had left of my family. As we drove home from a relative’s wedding one stormy evening, our minivan was caught in a flash flood. The rushing torrent swept me out the driver’s side window, and about a half-mile from the highway, I somehow managed to pull myself up the south bank of the flooded creek.
I was the only survivor. My wife of nearly 12 years and all four of our children went home to heaven.
This can’t be happening, I kept saying to myself. Not to me. Not to my beautiful family.
As my grief gushed forth and reporters clamored for a slice of the story, my “life of no regrets” came into the spotlight. I had no regrets because I had cherished my family while they were still alive, devoting generous amounts of time to them each day.
As parents, we all have the best intentions of spending plenty of time with our families. But amid our hectic lives, we notch out 15 minutes of “quality” time because we believe that’s all we can squeeze in. We hope to create an unforgettable, treasured moment with our child before moving on to the next task at hand.
But the reality is, we can’t plan the treasured moments we long for any more than we can plan a miracle or a Christmas morning snowfall. We all know how fleeting those moments can be — when you are walking down the trail and see a shooting star together; when you are fishing and your child shares his heart; when you are eating at the kitchen table and everyone bursts into laughter.
Quantity time and mundane events
For these treasured moments to emerge, it takes sizeable chunks of time to foster them. It takes deliberate choices in everyday life: eating meals, walking around the block, going to the store, repairing the house or fixing the car together. These everyday settings naturally give way to remarkable moments.
In the daily details of family life, filled with seemingly mundane events, we can choose to generously share our time with our children and capture those cherished moments.
The kitchen table is a wonderful starting place. Ours had seen so much life: spills, bills, birthdays and holidays, turkeys, cookies, cakes, pizza, ice cream. A kitchen table is a simple object yet such a powerful tool for bonding a family. The mealtime experience can create memories that endure a lifetime.
Taking children on errands and to work also creates precious opportunities. It builds a rapport that paves the way for free flowing conversation. I took my kids on business trips regularly, and because I did, we savored many priceless moments together.
Despite the perpetual pain of missing my family, I have peace because I cherished them while I could. I built that birdhouse with Makenah — seven weeks before it was too late. We spent quantity time with our children; I have no regrets.
Today, start living a life of no regrets with your family. Make a memory. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow.

Ancient Advice From A Fellow Pastor

Ancient Advice From A Fellow Pastor

Men sitting in couch areaBy Lance Witt
Pastors listen to other pastors. We listen to other people in ministry who are down in the trenches doing the hard work of leading others.
Jeremiah was called to ministry. And he was given a very tough ministry assignment. God let him know in advance that he would not pastor a megachurch.
Pastor Jeremiah has a good word that is timely for those of us leading the church in the 21st century.
This is what the Lord says…
Stand at the crossroads and look.
Ask for the ancient paths
Ask where the good way is and walk in it
And you will find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)


If you’re going to take the road that leads to spiritual health, you have to stand. Implicit in the word “stand” is the idea that you have to “stop”. Stopping and standing go hand in hand.
This is a critical word for people with healthy souls. Jesus regularly took time to stop, to be quiet, to spend time with his Father. You can’t live life at warp speed without warping your soul. It is so easy to fill our lives with frantic activity only to lose our bearings in ministry and forget “why” we do what we do.
It’s healthy for us regularly to stop, stand, and take a look at our lives … and consider where we are headed. We can get so busy helping everybody else live the Christian life that we forget that we are actually called to live it ourselves. We are so pre-occupied with everybody else’s sanctification that we forget that our sanctification is still a work in progress.
You have to stop running long enough to make an informed decision about which road you will travel.
Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways … but the folly of fools is deception.
Give thought to your ways. Are you living the life God intended for you? Or are you so busy that you have little time to stop, reflect, and consider the roads that are in front of you?
An old Chinese proverb says, “If you don’t change the direction you’re going, you’re likely to end up where you are headed.” Look ahead. If you stay on the road you’re traveling today, where are you going to end up?
Let me ask you a question: “If we could plot the trajectory of your soul, where does it end up?”
Maybe right now you’re at a ministry crossroads. Perhaps ministry and life haven’t turned out like you’d hoped. Maybe today you find yourself empty and drained from the demands of ministry.
There is hope. There is a different way . . . a better way. But you are at a crossroads and you have to make a decision about the path from this point forward. Your outward circumstances might not change, but you can change the trajectory of your soul. With God’s help, you really can bring your soul back to life. Joy can return. Passion can be reignited. Intimacy can be restored.


The past is a friend. Many people have walked the road before us, and we can learn a lot from them. This isn’t about something new but rather something ancient. It’s about following the footsteps of those who’ve gone before us. They’re up ahead, motioning back to us and saying, “Come this way. This is the path of spiritual health. This road will help you stay in love with Jesus and finish well.”
There are some disciplines and practices that people have used for generations to stay connected to Jesus … things like
fasting, solitude, reflection, scripture memory, Sabbath-keeping, prayer, confession, personal worship. How are you doing at integrating these into your life?
Your highest calling is to love Jesus … not pastor a church.
Just a few chapters later in Jeremiah, we read these words (verses 9:23-24):
This is what the LORD says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
     or the powerful boast in their power,
     or the rich boast in their riches.
 But those who wish to boast
     should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD
     who demonstrates unfailing love
     and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.

In Philippians 3 Paul is talking about his resume and all of his credentials:
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. (NLT)
What if we really believed that? How would it change our ministries and our churches?
It’s not the fast way. It’s not the busy way. It’s not the successful way. It’s not even the leadership way that Jeremiah tells us to ask for. It is the good way. God wants you to have a “good” life—a life that is emotionally healthy, relationally satisfying, and spiritually life-giving.
But it’s not enough to identify it, know it, teach it, or preach it. We must walk in it. There have been seasons in my life when I was so focused on “leading” that I neglected my own “living”. We must live well so that we can lead well. And the other is important. My leading must flow out of that which I am living.
Then there is a surprising punch line to the verse.


I thought Jeremiah would complete the verse by saying “and you will find success for your ministry” or “you will prosper in all your ways”. But the goal of standing and asking for the good way and walking in it is that I would find rest for my soul.
In Exodus 33 when God is having a conversation with Moses about Israel possessing the Promised Land, He says, “My presence will go with you and I will give you REST.” There it is again. I thought he would say “I will give you success or victory.”
This week I have been reflecting on the word “rest”. What does it mean to operate from a place of “rest”?
Rest is …
  • relaxed trust
  • low control
  • calm in the midst of chaos
  • recharging
  • not striving … not stressed
  • not frantic
So many of us in ministry are in need of rest for our soul. Could it be that this is what I really need most and even most deeply long for? Could it be God’s first priority in my life is a connected and joyful and refreshed soul? Could it be true in my ministry that his “yoke is easy and [his] burden is light”? Could it be possible to find the kind of rest for my soul that leads me to say, genuinely, “Jesus is enough”?

Is It Well With Your Soul

Is It Well With Your Soul

Man Praying In Coffee Shopby Chaplain George
One of the many things I love about God is found in Psalm 23:3a, “He restores my soul.” In the Amplified Bible, it reads, “He refreshes and restores my life (myself).”
Can you think of specific instances when your soul needed restoring—when you were discouraged or bowed down to the pressures and demands of family and ministry? Remember, an event doesn’t have to be catastrophic to pose a serious threat to the health of the soul. More often than not, the real danger lies in the piling up of small irritations and burdens—little things that keep building, one on top of the other, until the accumulated weight produces despair. You continue to perform, but you lack emotional vitality. You go through the motions, meeting the expectations of others, but inside there is a growing numbness—a weakening of the soul, a depletion of your inner self.
When people reach this state of inner exhaustion, they often turn inward and become overly self-focused. Relationships are strained as emotions wear thin. Thought processes become clouded and the moral fabric of internal life begins to unravel. They maintain an outwardly religious persona while the authenticity and joy of their relationship with God slowly deteriorate.
It’s at this point that the soul becomes increasingly vulnerable to various temptations. If the need for spiritual refreshment and renewal goes unrecognized, things will only get worse. Given time, this gradual erosion of the human soul can lead to severe consequences. It can cause people to stray further and further from God. It can make them actively pursue sinful desires. It’s a slow and progressive process that has brought many a good minister down.
When confronted with the seriousness of this condition, those at this stage usually slip into ego management. They deny that there is any reason for concern: “Why are you attacking me? Everything is fine.” If you question the state of their soul, they make light of the situation: “It’s not as bad as you think.” Often they will try to shift the blame while playing the victim. If you’ve known someone in this position, you understand how gut-wrenching it can be to watch a loved one become caught in this vicious downward spiral. You realize how much it hurts when that person refuses to listen to sound advice and counsel—when he or she complains, “Why don’t people just live their own lives and leave me alone?”
Space doesn’t permit me to examine in detail the many creative ways in which our loving God patiently pursues the weary and thirsty soul. But suffice it to say that, you are never too “far gone” to receive His tender care. Your soul can always be restored. Whether you’re discouraged, as Elijah was when threatened by Jezebel (1 Kings 19:2-8); whether you’re enduring severe temptation, as Jesus did in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11); whether you’re in the grip of fear, like Peter when he denied Christ (Matthew 26:69-75); or whether you’re plagued by doubt, like Thomas, who could not believe Jesus had risen from the dead (John 20:26-28)—whatever your specific challenge or concern, be assured that God will meet you at your point of need.
Even in the extreme cases where ministers, like the prodigal son, walk away from their loving Father, God’s grace never ceases to seek the wayward soul (Luke 15:11-24). The Lord pursues His lost sheep like a Good Shepherd (Matthew 18:10-14). He is unfailingly determined to heal the soul of its backsliding and restore it to His favor (Hosea 14:4). Wherever we may be in life’s journey, we have His promise that the Holy Spirit will draw us to Himself, refresh us, and comfort our thirsty souls, leaving us with renewed discoveries of His love and the promises of His word (Psalm 19:7; 51:7-12). Our part is simply to respond (Isaiah 55:1).

It’s My Day Off

It’s My Day Off

Family walking togetherby Roger Skepple
Early in my ministry, I learned the value of a two-letter word: no. My wife, Teresa, and I were expecting our first child nine months after we married. I had answered God’s call to ministry and was attending Dallas Theological Seminary at the time.
By the time our son, Roger II, arrived, I was a zombie: I worked two part-time jobs and went to school during the day. Teresa and I had talked early in our marriage about our commitment to family, so even with my whirlwind pace, I built in time for my wife and son.
But after seminary, the plot thickened. I was hired for my first ministry at Oakcliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas and we had a second child, Jennifer. I was one of only six staff ministers expected to oversee weddings, funerals, programs and services for 3,500 members.
That’s when Teresa and I made a choice: Thursdays would be my untouchable day. From any Friday through the following Wednesday, I could be on call for ministry, but Thursdays were my day off. Save for a member’s severe sickness or death, I would let nothing pull me back into that church office. Of course, deciding that was the easy part; the difficulty came when I had to utter that two-letter word long before I deleted it from my vocabulary.
“No, I don’t take work home.” When I walk through the door and am greeted with a hug from my wife and four children — Roger II, Jennifer, and twins, Saul and Sarah — I want to be totally available to them. I can’t do that if I’m thinking of a proposal I need to write or shuffling through office paperwork. So once I leave the office on Wednesday afternoons, most things stay.
When at the church, I focus on finishing tasks such as preparing lessons. If I fall behind, I go in early on my regular workdays rather than saving the work for my day off.
“No, my ringer isn’t on.” After spending the day together, my family gathers on the evening of my day off to sing, act out Bible stories or do special activities (e.g., make our favorite dessert).
During that time, we turn off the ringer on our phone. That way I can’t be tempted to let other things interrupt. If someone must get through, he still can — we leave our answering machine on with the volume turned down.
“No, I can’t come in today.” My church staff knows that I guard my day off, but they also know that I’m available in an emergency. But an “emergency” is not when a staff member needs help planning next week’s rally or can’t find a phone number.
When someone wants me to run down to the church to fix such things, I simply tell them, “That can wait until tomorrow,” or I walk them through a quick solution over the phone. On the flip side, when I am at church, I have an “I’m interruptible” policy.
“No, I can’t do it all.” Saying “I can’t” on your day off is easier when you know another qualified person can step up to a challenge when you are out. That’s why I train others on my staff to do ministry work, and then I trust them with that responsibility when I’m away.
It would be tempting to never release “my” responsibility to someone else if I didn’t remember this principle: The ministry won’t rise or fall based on my involvement, Yes, I should do my job, but that doesn’t mean I must do it all alone.

Your School, God’s Mission

Your School, God’s Mission

Girl reading the Bibleby Daniel Darling, Pastor and VP of Communications, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC)
School. Come August, it dominates life in our communities. Midway through your Sunday sermon, mothers are already mentally compiling a list of things they need to do to get ready for Monday morning. Lunches. Homework. Sports practice. Kids are already wondering what clothes they should wear on Monday, if the locker-room drama from last week will escalate, or if the English exam will be bearable.
What parents and kids might not be thinking, as they sit in church on Sunday, is that when they walk into the doors of their public school on Monday, they are not just walking into the place they have to endure in order to get to college, but a mission field.
Every community and every school is a little bit different, but all of them share one thing in common. They are filled with kids and teachers, parents and faculty, staff and students full of hopes and dreams. What would it look like, then, for Christian students to view their classmates not as competition, but as people created in the image of God? And what would it look like for students to consider the place they spend their waking hours as an opportunity for God to do his best work? And what if they not only felt the freedom to authentically live out their faith in public, but also saw themselves as God’s messengers of hope and healing in their public schools?
This is why Focus on the Family encourages students to put their religious freedoms into practice and bring their Bibles to school. Not simply to make a point, but to make a difference. In every public school, in every community, there are those who are earnestly seeking God, and God is calling your students, who attend school every day, to be the ones stepping into those spaces to share about His love. (Bring Your Bible to School Day is Oct. 6. See more information below.)
The kids in the schools in your community come from varied backgrounds. They each have stories, some of heartbreak, some of hope. For many, the only ray of light they will see in their entire week is the Christian witness of the students you are equipping on Sundays. Imagine what would happen in your community and around the nation if Christian students saw themselves as God sees them: ambassadors of the gospel to every corner of their school and community?
As a pastor, you play a special role in shepherding them. Your affirmation of their mission, your challenge, your teaching can be used by God to inspire them to fulfill the mission in front of them. There are conversations they can have with fellow students that you will never be privileged to have.
Here are some suggested ways you might intentionally equip the students in your church for mission in their public schools:
  • Have a special service where you and a few people in your church pray for students.
  • Preach a special message on being unashamed and unafraid to share the Gospel, even at school.
  • Have youth pastors, parents, and leaders periodically check in throughout the year to make themselves available for conversations and equipping when kids are feeling like their faith is being marginalized at school.
  • Plan Wednesday Bible studies and fun activities that increase students’ confidence in the truth of the Bible and its power to impact today’s culture. (BringYourBible.org has lots of fun videos, quizzes and activities you can use!)
We know that students care about their classmates and that families care about their communities and want to see Christ’s love shared. But we all know it requires great courage in this culture of spiritual relativism to acknowledge redemptive truth. That’s why it’s so important that adults surround students who have a heart for sharing God’s truth with love and exhortation.
Focus has great resources to help you empower students:
  • Elementary, teen, and parent/pastor guides that provide fun, age-appropriate Bible-centered activities, as well as step-by-step guidance on how to join the movement for Bring Your Bible to School Day!
  • By signing up at focusonthefamily.com/bringyourbible, individuals receive free access to all of these guides, as well as a chance to win a trip for four to see the Newsboys in concert in Dallas and meet the band!
  • BringYourBible.org also has lots of information about students’ religious freedoms, kid- and teen-friendly videos, quizzes, and relevant discussion topics.

To the Pastor’s Kid: Behind the Mask (Part 1)

To the Pastor’s Kid: Behind the Mask (Part 1)

September 26, 2016

by Julianna Preble Fife

Ever feel like you wear a mask to cover up who you are as a pastor’s kid? Do you feel like you have to hide the real you? Growing up in a minister’s home, I felt like I was always smiling through the pain or putting on a great “Christian” attitude to please the people of my father’s church — but not necessarily my God. If they saw me struggling in school or in a relationship, I thought they would think less of me. If someone asked to pray for me, I could never tell them what I really needed prayer for because I figured they would think I was a gigantic sinner, see the real me and discover that I was not perfect.

I never felt I could let people in on the whole picture. I could never tell them that Sister Suzie Hats was mad at my dad again and threatened to leave the church or that my mother was going to have to look for part-time work because the church board wouldn’t give my dad a much-needed raise. I eventually got to the point where I was more comfortable being alone and bitter than having to hide who the real me was in front of everyone.

I also couldn’t let anyone see my own anger and pain. There were times when I knew that my dad was dying inside because his congregation had hurt him. I wanted to run up on the platform and scream at them every Sunday morning, but I knew I couldn’t. Ever felt that way?

As a pastor’s kid, how do you handle these feelings? How do you stay sane behind the mask? How do you come out on top? How do you become comfortable with who you are and where God has placed you?

Let me share some of the thoughts that rattled around behind my mask for many years. Perhaps you will be able to identify with them.

“I feel so alone and I can’t talk to anyone about it!”

I remember struggling with this especially in my early teen years. It seemed like ages since someone had come up to me and sincerely asked how I was doing. I wondered if the people in the church even knew I was a real person or if they were just blind to my needs, though I knew that I was the one who had pretended to be something I wasn’t in the first place. Because no one ever expressed concern for me, I felt I could never share my burdens, sins and problems with others.

But I eventually learned that God was truly a great resource. I remember one night in particular that I felt completely alone in the world and I was crying from the hurt in my heart. That night, like never before, I felt His presence encouraging me, comforting me and telling to keep pressing on. I realized that night that He would never tell on me or blab out my sin to the whole congregation. He wouldn’t get fired because of me, and He would never let me down.

Jesus says that He will never leave you nor forsake you. He won’t let you go through this alone. Realize that there are thousands of PK’s all around the globe that know exactly how you feel and are or have been in your shoes. They are asking the same questions as you and sometimes feel just as lonely as you do.

“Everyone is looking at me and talking about me!”

Do you feel like your life is on display for everyone to scrutinize and talk about? Have you been hurt by what people have said about you, either in front of you or behind your back?

The Bible says that, when we are weak, He is strong. Don’t let the hurtful or critical words that people say get to you. You may be saying, “There is no way I can just let what they have said go.” But if you don’t, you will end up never trusting anyone, always being bitter and, in the end, being very critical of other people.

Realize that, as a pastor’s kid, you hold a special fascination to others. Some wish they could be like you. Some wish you wouldn’t take the spotlight they desire themselves. Some are merely convicted by the perfect image they think you project and can’t wait to see you slip up so they can feel better about themselves.

You’ll need to understand that this comes with the territory. Whatever their reasons, they will likely never stop looking at you or talking about you. So, instead of getting upset, just let God deal with them. Let Him help you love them as He loves them.

When I remember the unfair things others have done to me over the years, I think of Christ on the cross. Picture how they falsely accused Him and brutally beat Him. They nailed Him to a rugged cross and tortured an innocent man. He died because they didn’t accept Him. They were critical of Him and constantly watching Him, waiting for Him to sin and mess up. But He died on the cross for them even after they hurt Him because He loved them so much. I know you and I are not Christ, but we should be imitators of Him, even when others are unkind.

I’m not suggesting that you to let people walk all over you, talk awful about you, and then just take it. You have a right to expect respect. But learn to love people in spite of what they say about you. Christ did! Remember that God made you just the way you are. He knew that you would be a PK. Be proud that God would choose you and your family to serve Him.

“God didn’t call me to be in the ministry — He called my parents!”

This is a myth. In truth, to some degree, He called you just as much as He called them. He knew what He was doing when He gave you to your parents. He never makes mistakes! He chose you to be a PK. He knows that everything you experience in your life will shape you into the adult He wants you to become. You are the one who chooses to either let those experiences make or break you.

Be reminded that God has an individual plan for your life. Walking with God is a journey. Your journey will probably be different from your parents, but no less authentic. You may never be a pastor or even a Sunday school teacher. You may instead become a writer, a professor or the greatest plumber or mechanic that the world has ever seen. But know that God has a plan for your life and wants to be a part of it.

Your parents are not greater in God’s eyes than you are. He doesn’t look at you and say, “What was I thinking when I placed that imperfect kid with those perfect parents? What a mess!” He placed you there for a reason. Find that purpose! Discover God’s will for you personally! Dare to shape your own dream! Even if it’s just becoming the world’s greatest plumber, do it with enthusiasm and joy, knowing that God has made you the way you are for a purpose. You are important to Him.

“It hurts when I hear people criticizing my parents and me.”

It’s hard to say why people are so outspoken about those who sacrifice so much for them. Are they just mean, or do they not really understand what it’s like being in ministry? There were times when I would have loved to tell people to keep their comments to themselves, but the Bible has a better solution.

In Romans 12:14,19-20, it says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. … If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so, you will heap burning coals of fire upon his head.”

The people in the church are not your enemies. Instead of getting upset and carrying it around with you, look behind the words at what is hurting them and causing them to say such things. Learn to love them in spite of what they say or do. Realize that, no matter where you are, people are people. They will be cruel one moment and wonderful the next. This is normal human behavior because we are all sinners. Try to see the good in people. This is hard, but can be done. Daily, place these people and your hurts into God’s hands. He is the only one who will be able to deal with their hearts and make them change.

“If I had to do it all over again and could choose, would I still choose to be a PK?”

When I ask myself this question, I’m sometimes amazed to find how easily my answer is “Yes.” For starters, where can you be so entertained by the interesting variety of people God has made? Where can you see the fascinating inner happenings of a church? Just like you or anyone else who has lived in a pastor’s home, I have outrageous stories to tell that most people would never believe.

For example, I remember the time when there was a mentally deranged woman who would hide in the bushes across the street from our church every Sunday, wearing a bright red hat. She thought we couldn’t see her! Bet you know someone similar.

Then, there was the time my father was called at 3 a.m. to go and pray for someone who had an itch that wouldn’t go away. All PKs can look back on crazy moments like that. Where else would you have such humorous experiences that keep you smiling now and that you can share with others when you get older?

There really are a lot of great things about being a PK. I encourage you to intentionally look for the positive in it. For instance, I believe that ministry experiences have made me a better person. I have the most well-developed hearing since I had to sit through hundreds of sermons and listen to thousands of solos — some great and some not so great. I also have very discerning taste buds, given that I have been to hundreds of potluck dinners. I can quickly identify the best of green bean casseroles and can even tell what “foods” have been frozen for a hundred years or more.

But more importantly, where else could you get such a perspective on God’s world? And where else could you see Him so actively at work in that world? I believe that, if you are paying attention to Him moving around you as a PK, you could never be satisfied with less.

I’ve had a unique perspective in the church as I’ve seen hundreds of people touched by God, saved from their sins and their lives turned around. I have seen God make a difference when no one thought it possible.

And I’ve repeatedly seen that God is faithful in my own life. He has always provided for my family. We have always had a roof over our heads and food to eat. But most of all, I know that God chose me to be His child and serve Him in a very special way. I know He loves me — regardless of who my parents are.

I guess that’s the key to being happy as a pastor’s kid — being happy first as one of God’s kids. He will never let you down. He is always near and knows the real you. He sees everything you’re going through. He knows you are always in the spotlight and that there are times you feel trapped. He knows that sometimes you feel like you have to wear a mask to hide the real you and that it’s hard to be genuine in the midst of it all.

However, He knew you could handle it and would come out on top in the end. Shine brightly for Him. He sees the real you behind everything. He understands what you feel and all you experience. Know that He loves you regardless of what the world says or does to you. Find out what purpose He has for you in being a PK, take hold of it and hold your head up high.

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