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A Guest Blog by Karen Kinnaird

Blessing or curse? Joy or pain? Good memories or bad? Spiritual soldier or spiritual casualty? If we were to ask 100 adults about their childhoods as ministry kids we’d likely get 100 different answers. One day, the ministers’ kids in your church will be adults. What will they say when they reflect on their time at your church? How is your church impacting your ministry kids?

Minister's Kids

Who Are They?

  • They are kids born to parents who serve in ministry but who are not necessarily called to the ministry.

  • Their identity is children created in the image of God and loved by God, not “preachers kids”.

  • They live in a “glass house.”

  • They are at the church a lot. Few see the inside of the local church as a pastor’s kid.

  • Their lives blur family, father’s vocation, and church life.

  • Their father is especially vulnerable to exhaustion, temptation, frustration, and loneliness.

  • They observe, hear and see more than you would imagine.

  • They are keenly aware of conflict and disunity.

  • They may live with unreal expectations which can lead to frustration and rebellion.

  • They are unknowingly in a spiritual battle in which they can be the prime target by which to bring down their parents and the church they serve. They don’t know they’re even in a battle, much less how to fight it. Many become casualties of the battles.

What could they be thinking?

“Being a pastor’s kid is one of the greatest gifts that God has given me.”

“I get to learn how to help people, make hospital visits, and talk about my faith.”

“Sundays are a workday for my family. Sundays are a long day for me. Sometimes we get there early and get home late. I am tired on Monday mornings.”

“I avoid people as much as possible because I’m not one that likes attention.”

“I get to hang out at my dad’s work - a lot!”

“I need to be perfect but I’m not, so I’ll just pretend to be. I know I can’t measure up. I don’t want to embarrass my family or church. I guess I am a hypocrite.”

“I get to spend time with missionaries and church leaders.”

“People expect more from me than they do from my friends.”

“My Sunday School teachers assume I already know what they’re teaching and that I have all the right answers.”

“Is it just me or is everyone watching me?”

“My mom is hurting. She’s trying to cover it up but I see the pain on her face.”

“Just when I get settled into a new home and school, we have to move again.”

“Do I really know Jesus as my Savior, or do I just know about Him?”

“If I died tonight, would I go to heaven? My dad is the pastor. Shouldn’t I have this figured out?”

Young woman and young man reading Bible and worship

How Can We Love and Inspire Them?

  • Let them just be kids. Not “pastors kids”.

  • Try to understand their world.

  • Allow them to be unique. Let them be imperfect.

  • Greet them by name and with a smile expecting nothing in return.

  • Praise them. Respect them. Respect their privacy.

  • Be patient with them and allow God to work in their lives to birth and mature their own authentic faith journey no matter how long it takes.

  • Forgive them.

How Can We Practically Support Them?

  • Pray for their salvation. Pray that they would be spared from doubt and have an unwavering confidence in Christ.

  • Pray for them by name both individually and corporately that they’ll be protected from the schemes of the enemy.

  • Treat them like the other kids.

  • Give a sincere compliment about them to their parents.

  • Write them a kind note.

  • Take legitimate concerns directly and prayerfully to the parents.

  • Take interest in a pastor’s child with a specific interest or skill similar to yours. Consider mentoring them.

  • Limit church criticisms and complaints to private conversations.

  • Guard them from negative inner workings of the church. Anger and conflict can be perceived as hypocrisy.

  • Avoid comments and jokes about rebellious preachers’ kids. Jokes to some adults aren’t necessarily perceived as jokes to kids, especially when it’s about them.

Kids singing around piano

How you treat your minister and wife will influence their children.

How many pastor’s kids grow up and don’t want anything to do with the church because they’ve seen the way their father has been treated? What do your ministry kids overhear you say about your church, about their parents, about others? What do your ministry kids hear and witness in business meetings? You may be watching and listening to them when in reality they’re watching and listening to you. Children who witness their parents being poorly treated by the Christian people their parents serve can profoundly impact their mental, emotional and spiritual lives well into adulthood.

This is one of the reasons I believe so strongly about the importance of October’s Pastor Appreciation Month. Your ministry kids NEED to know you appreciate the selfless work of their father. In turn, this will make them feel valued. They need to see that people really do appreciate their family’s service, and that it’s worth it. There are many blogs with suggestions for ways to appreciate your pastor. Some Pastor Appreciation Month gift ideas that include the family include an extra day or week off off to spend with the family or a giftcard to a family restaurant, movie theater, sporting event or family entertainment venue. A good friend of mine reflected on her time as a pastor’s daughter, “For me, the greatest gift you can give a pastor's kid is to Iove their parents well. It shows them their sacrifice means something. I am eternally grateful for those few who loved them well and set godly examples for me.”

What’s the Goal?

In How to Thrive as a Pastor’s Wife, Christine Hoover states, “The goal in raising our children is to cultivate a lifelong love of God, His Word and His church.” You have an influence on that outcome. Let’s use that influence wisely.

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

Karen Kinnaird

Karen brings the vast experience of having served as a ministry wife for nearly 38 years. Her husband has served as a church planter, senior pastor, state denominational leader, agency specialist at NAMB, and Associational Missionary Strategist. Karen currently serves as the Executive Assistant for Forgiving Forward, a ministry dedicated to helping people experience the freedom of the Gospel through the power of forgiveness. Karen and Jimmy, also known as Gigi and Poppy, have 3 children and 3 grandchildren.

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Guest Blog by Karen Kinnaird

It’s been nearly 38 years. God has taken my husband Jimmy and me on a journey through three pastorates and several aspects of denominational work. Like many, we have had our share of highs and lows. One thing I know, it’s worth it. Over the years, I have gained perspectives of ministry from several angles, and it is apparent – the need for ministers to be affirmed, encouraged, and appreciated is great. As a matter of fact, it has become critical. According to Barna's post-covid research, 38 percent of pastors have considered quitting. Issues of loneliness, lack of true friendships, stress, and burnout are on the rise. This isn’t just a pastor’s problem, it’s a church problem. But what about their wives?

minister's wife

Who Is She?

  • She is a servant, often behind the scenes in unseen ways; a confidant to all she interacts with, yet often with no one to share with herself.

  • A fierce protector of her family’s spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health.

  • A cheerleader, confidant, and pastor to her pastor-husband.

  • A warrior in the midst of simultaneous, unseen spiritual battles against spiritual forces of evil.

  • A navigator of social scenarios and delicate ministry situations.

  • An influencer in church culture and for Christ in the community.

  • She is a steward of the Gospel.

wife serving others

What’s on Her Mind?

“I consider it an honor to be called to this unique, God-given role.”

“How do I overcome feelings of inadequacy when I’ve had no formal ministry training?”

“I am grateful for the platform to live out my faith.”

“How do I meet the high standards and expectations I sense from others?”

“I have so many opportunities, but in what capacity should I be serving?”

“How do I balance the emotional highs and lows of ministry?”

“How do I balance family, ministry, and employment?”

“It’s a privilege to be married to my pastor-husband.”

“I see the sacrifice my husband makes to serve God’s people.”

“How do I handle the criticism of the one I love most in this world?”

“How do I keep relationships right amidst conflict that I’m not directly involved in?”

“When do I say ‘yes’ and when do I say ‘no’?”

“I’m grateful to be able to raise children in a culture of ministry.”

“How can I ensure my children grow up to love God and the church while living in the “glass house”?”

“How do I deal with the pain of people who have left the church?”

Hopeful wife happy marriage

How Can We Love and Inspire Her?

  • Make an intentional effort to show her love and value her.

  • Give her grace as she matures in her faith.

  • Give her the freedom to be herself and flourish in the one-of-a-kind way God designed her.

  • Respect her God-given limits.

  • Advocate for her family’s healthy rhythms of ministry, family, rest, weekly Sabbath and vacation.

  • Allow her to cultivate friendships inside and outside of the church.

  • Have her back when there is controversy.

  • Allow her the freedom to operate in the Body of Christ as God leads her according to her gifts, passion, and personality.

How Can We Practically Support Her?

  • Tell her you love her and that you are glad God called her family to your church.

  • Pray specific prayers for her, then text, email, write a note, or verbally tell her so.

  • Make a homemade meal or order dinner from a favorite restaurant and have it delivered. Be sensitive to dietary preferences. A small group might provide dinner for a week.

  • Provide a professional house cleaner for the holidays, for a month, or for a special occasion.

  • Help a young minister’s wife get her children ready for church on a Sunday morning.

  • Meet a young minister’s wife at her car on Sunday mornings and help her get her children to their classrooms.

  • Offer to provide childcare for some personal time or a date night.

  • Give a gift of a favorite item or gift card to a favorite store, nail salon, or restaurant.

The best thing to do is to consider your minister’s wife and ask, “What can I do for her that will meet a need and show her that she’s loved?”

The best thing to do is to consider your minister’s wife and ask, “What can I do for her that will meet a need and show her that she’s loved?”

The God-called spouse has a unique calling that carries with it significant meaning and eternal impact. It’s an honor, a high calling and a privilege. Wives influence the souls of their husbands, and a healthy minister’s wife will strengthen her husband. This, in turn, benefits the church. A church will do well in being mindful and intentional toward the well-being of her ministers and wives.

“A worthy wife is a crown for her husband.” Proverbs 12:4

“Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

How Can You Love and Support Your Ministry Wives?

Karen Kinnaird

Karen brings the vast experience of having served as a ministry wife for nearly 38 years. Her husband has served as a church planter, senior pastor, state denominational leader, agency specialist at NAMB, and Associational Missionary Strategist. Karen currently serves as the Executive Assistant for Forgiving Forward, a ministry dedicated to helping people experience the freedom of the Gospel through the power of forgiveness. Karen and Jimmy, also known as Gigi and Poppy, have 3 children and 3 grandchildren.

The content of this blog first appeared in Touching Hearts Ministry.

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“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19, ESV

The calling given by Jesus to brothers Peter and Andrew as they were fishing in the Galilean waters was life changing. Jesus then walking further up the shore called two other brothers, James and John, to follow him as well. Both sets of brothers immediately dropped their nets and followed him, leaving their old lives behind.

God has been calling people to follow him from the beginning. But what does “calling” mean? In Baptist churches I attended years ago, there were frequent calls in the invitation time to surrender to a calling to ministry. I don’t see pastors doing that as much. It’s one thing to read about the call of the apostles who heard the voice of Jesus of Nazareth and left all to follow him and quite another for us to consider the calling Jesus may have on our lives today.

This brings up so many questions. Do only certain people have a “calling?” Does a “calling” involve my vocation? How would I know if I have a “calling” and what could it be?

There can be a lot of confusion around this word “calling.” Let me add seven points of clarity to this mystery of the calling of God on a life.

First, I want to give credit where credit is due. I found a lot of help in understanding “calling” from Oz Guinness’ book: The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose for Your Life. If you are struggling with general meaning and purpose for your life, I recommend you work through his book. It is large and very comprehensive on the issue of “calling.”

Second, the calling of Jesus is more than a calling to a vocation. Some would say that a “calling” has two parts. The first part is a big “C” Calling. The big “C” Calling is more about your relationship with God, your identity, your character and values, and your ultimate purpose in life. Second, they would then classify a vocational choice as a little “c” calling. The little “c” calling is how you live this out in the everyday life. Many will have the little “c” calling of raising a family, holding a job, serving in their church, and sharing the Gospel in the world. Little “c” calling is not little. It is vitally important. Little “c” calling involves knowing your talents, strengths and weaknesses, abilities, tendencies and more. Therefore, one part of calling is about who you are, and the other part is about what you do.

Third, the calling of Jesus is a calling to follow Jesus. It is first a calling to a saving relationship to him. So, everyone who is a believer in Jesus Christ and has experienced the new birth has had a call from God. This is not all of the call, but it is the greatest part.

Fourth, the calling of Jesus by nature is personal, powerful, precious, and perplexing. It is personal in that Jesus at some point in your life came to you and revealed himself as Savior and Lord and you responded to him. He…called…you.

The calling to follow Jesus is powerful because you are following him. You are invited into his inner circle to be taught and empowered by him.

It is precious, for you have access to the Lord Jesus every moment of every day. It is an intimate access. He already knows you to the very depths of your soul and he wants you to know him in all his fullness.

Last, it is perplexing because his calling on your life will work out in ways you will not expect. God called childless Abraham to be the father of many nations. God called a young shepherd boy to be king over Israel. God called a frightened Gideon, hiding in a shed, to lead a very few of God’s people to battle a mighty Midian army, and God called an octogenarian who thought his life was over to lead his people out of Egyptian bondage and to the Promised Land. Jesus also chose 12 ordinary flawed men entrusting his life work in their hands. Yes, God’s call can be perplexing. If he can call all these, he can call you.

Fifth, the calling of Jesus is revealed not discovered. We may seek God and how to know him (the big “C” Calling) and we may seek to find out how we’re wired; what we do best and how doing that fits us and brings satisfaction (the little “c” calling). But all of it starts with Jesus. God has put eternity in our hearts for a reason. He is the initiator. For us to find God as revealed in his Son, Jesus Christ, he must first awaken us. We were dead in our trespasses and sin, but God has made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:1, 5).

Sixth, the calling of Jesus is counter cultural. The world says, “You are what you do.” The calling of Jesus says, “Do what you are.” What believers do with their lives comes out of their allegiance to Christ. Our calling is not about us. It is from Jesus to Jesus and for Jesus. We should never forget that. We should also never forget that our value doesn’t come from our ability but from our Lord. Therefore, what we do, we do for him. Our gifts and abilities are not for ourselves, but for Jesus. One radio commentator used to say his “talent was on loan from God.” One day he gave that talent back. So will we.

Seven, the calling of Jesus has distinctions that are kept in tension. There is the distinction between personal and corporate calling. Our personal response to the call of Jesus on our life is important, but there is also a calling that we have in common with other followers of Christ. We are individually members of the body of Christ. We are individuals but we are part of a body and need the body to balance our lives.

There is a distinction between a personal calling and a later, special calling. The apostle Paul is an example of this kind of personal calling to Christ and then his special calling as an apostle to the Gentiles.

The last thing I want to say about this distinction is the difference between the clarity of a calling and the mystery of a calling. I began writing this to provide clarity, and I hope I have. But I cannot provide total clarity.

“Who am I?” and “How should I live?” are questions that aren’t easy to answer. These questions apply generally to all of us, and the Bible will give us answers to these. God’s calling on your life will always be in alignment with what he has said in the Scriptures. If you come across someone who says God has called them to do something that is contrary to the Bible, then they have misread the call.

There are a lot of great tools that help us in our vocation (that part of our calling) such as spiritual gift tests, aptitude assessments, the Enneagram and personality assessments. But there is still a mystery. We are mind, body, and spirit. We find our calling in worship and in listening to God through his Word and in connection and service to his church. I believe God does it this way so that we will have one more reason to stay closely connected to him. Calling is static but it is also dynamic. So yes, Jesus said “Follow me.” I’d say, “Follow him closely.”

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