After the post that I wrote yesterday I wondered how many people would understand why the pressures of the ministry are present. The fact that they are there was stated in the news article I quoted from, but why is it so? Let me see if I can open the curtains of the parsonage so you can get a peek inside.
Often a pastor’s family is viewed as though they are different. If you saw any of the crazy pictures on the DVD we did for my husband’s 50th birthday you’d probably agree – “Yes, those Cunningham’s are different all right!” What I mean by different is that it’s perceived that the pastor’s family doesn’t struggle with the things a “normal” family struggles with. Marital issues, children that disobey, struggles to have consistent, meaningful devotions, sin in their personal lives, a cool heart, etc. They are viewed as incorrectly as a picture of Jesus’ mother with a halo around her head. She wasn’t a saint, and neither are the members of a pastor’s family…nor the pastor himself!
Sometimes people see the humanity of the pastor, his wife and children and are critical of that. Romans 3:23 reminds us that all are sinners; only Christ was born without a sin nature. God’s servants need regeneration just as the congregation does, and we will battle with our sinful nature until the day we’re taken to heaven either in death or the rapture. Be patient with a pastor and his family. The children are often placed on a higher level of expectations than the other children in the church simply because their dad is the pastor. There’s no guarantee that the owner of a car dealership is going to have maintenance- free cars just because he’s the head of the dealership; likewise, a pastor’s children may have some advantages, but there may still be some tune-ups or overhauls necessary along the way. Should the pastor’s son know more Bible answers at the quizzing than the other teens? He should be knowledgeable, but to say he should exceed the others is placing unreal expectations on him.
It seems that many look at the pastor and his family as “untouchable”. Who would want to sit with the pastor and his wife at the fellowship at church? Can it really be fun to be with them? They probably only want to discuss things like eschatology, angelology, Bibliology, or Christology, right? They are viewed as not needing friendships because of their busy lives. None of this could be farther from the truth! Pastors enjoy normal conversation about normal things – sports, vacation, funny scenarios, etc. Because of their busy schedules an outing or lunch with a friend is a welcomed break.
I say all of this not to make you wonder if our household is going into a tail spin; this has been our lives for the last 27 years and we love it! God enables and gives grace to serve Him, and gives joy in the midst of it all. Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have written something like this, but as the years have passed I’ve realized there is very little said concerning the pastor and his family. I long to tell from my heart how you, as a member of a local church, can come alongside your pastor and his family and not only encourage them in the ministry, but befriend them as well. Look in the mirror and say, “Those folks are just like me!”, then treat them the way you would want to be treated. They’ll love you for it!