By: Carrie Austin
As a pastor’s kid, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of church life. Like many PK’s, I struggled through rebellion and making my faith my own. I have felt the sting of “godly” people doing ungodly things and the heartache and confusion of my own family being their target. I understand, now, the financial toll of a sacrificial life of ministry. I can also say that I have seen the fulfillment and passion that that same life can bring.
My parents were not perfect by any means--they would be the first to admit their failures-- but as a product of their life of ministry, I can say there is so much that they did right. How do I know?
I have a love for the church that grows more and more with time. I am able to look back on my relationship with my parents without the longing of unmet needs from them in my childhood. I am pursuing a life of ministry myself through counseling and finally, my love, respect and admiration for my parents only grows with each passing year.
Ministry dads, here are five things I believe that my dad did for me as I was growing up “in the fishbowl” of ministry that helped me:
- Live Authentically.
I have always been able to see that who my dad is at home is the same person that the world sees.
- Make a Habit of Giving Your Family Your Best—Not the Leftovers.
As a kid, I saw this modeled at mealtimes when inevitably the phone would ring for my dad and we saw him tell the person on the other line that he would have to call them back because he was eating dinner with his family. My dad mostly served bi-vocationally and so he had to balance his responsibilities at the church with another job but I always felt he was there for me—even in the teen years. In my professional and personal interactions with the adult children of ministry families, I have heard all too often about resentments they have toward the church because of an unhealthy work/home life balance.
- Love and Value Their Mom.
Dad may have been the pastor but he and mom were partners in ministry. Dad showed gratitude and appreciation to her in our home and with other people as well. He was her protector and demanded that she be respected.
- Give Them Permission to Be Imperfect.
One of the most life-changing and affirming things my dad told me was in my teens when my rebellion was in full force. I was feeling the weight of expectations as well as the judgement of church and community members. Dad reminded me that HE was the pastor—not me. He reminded me of who I was– that I was his daughter, a member of the Boyd (that’s my maiden name) family and that I had committed my life to Christ. He reminded me that all of those roles came with responsibilities but not one of them called me to be perfect. His words released me from the judgement of others and assured me of his love and my heavenly Father’s love despite my imperfections.
- Passionately and Faithfully Pursue Your Calling.
Through all of life’s up’s and down’s my dad always centered life and family around his calling to serve the Lord. Certain seasons may have looked drastically differently from what he may have envisioned for his life of ministry, but I saw him faithful to the God he loves and passionate for the work God called him to do.
Carrie Austin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Cedar Park, Texas, the owner of True Change Counseling and a member of the Texas Baptists Counseling Services network. She has over 14 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families and her practice has a special focus on couples and teen girls.