It was almost midday when I ran into Chris in the premises of the faculty of Science.
I was in between lectures and he had come to attend to a few sundry things.
Chris was a well-known leader in my campus fellowship but we hadn’t really had a close chat. Soon we got talking and as the conversation progressed, I hinted that I was the son of a clergyman.
Hearing that, he was taken aback. “If you are a pastor’s child, then you are different; virtually all the pastors’ children I know are not exemplary”, Chris remarked.
Moments after that conversation, Chris’ comments wouldn’t leave me. In a flurry, I began to remember similar statements I had heard from a couple of other persons. I couldn’t deny their observations because I had seen clear cases myself.
Examples in the Bible
Even in the bible, I could point to a few.
Eli’s family is a ready case. Although a priest and a prophet, Eli had sons who were worthless men – men who did not know the Lord. They took advantage of the people, abused the women, desecrated the temple and treated God’s service with contempt. (1 Samuel 2)
In the end, they met their waterloo. Their dynasty was destroyed, and the nation was plunged into darkness.
As great as Samuel was, his boys disappointed. “His sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8:3)
And the list goes on.
What a Study Revealed
In 2012, David Kinnaman, author of You Lost Me, directed a research, under the aegis of Barna Group, on pastors’ kids against the background of the popular prodigal stereotype.
At the end he said,
“The numbers show that pastors’ kids—at least as reported through the eyes of their parents—are about average when it comes to their struggles with Christianity and with the Church. This is perhaps to be expected, yet also disappointing. The children of pastors are not destined to become prodigals, but more than one out of 14 seem to have left their faith behind. And nearly two-fifths of these church-raised kids go through a period of significant doubt—we call this the spiritual journey of nomads, those who still call themselves Christians yet are no longer connected to a local church.”
So, why is it that people who have been so intimate with God and have been instrumental in shaping the lives of other people’s children have theirs struggle with the faith or altogether go wayward?
There are a myriad of factors that come into play.
However, I have highlighted below what I consider the top 3 culprits. And these 3 are pitched in the parents’ tent.
#1. An Imbalanced Family-Ministry Orientation
After the great Benny Hinn reunited with his wife, having earlier undergone a divorce, he said, all along, he had believed that ministry came before family. That was partly why their relationship fell apart. However, he now holds that family comes before ministry.
When we put too much emphasis on ministry over family, it may come to haunt us later.
What usually results is that little or no time is created for family bonding and the children will struggle to have their dad or mum’s attention. And they could go on with many unanswered questions. Some could fault God, the faith or the ministry for taking their parents away from them and would consequently become averse to any or all of the three.
Sometimes, that gap would just be sufficient enough for the enemy to creep in and cause damage.
Understanding that your family needs you just as (if not more), than the ministry is key to maintaining a good balance that will save your family and ministry.
Renowned bible teacher, Gbile Akanni was right when he said, “I was first a man before I became a man of God.”
#2. Not Getting to the Basics with the Kids
Sometimes, servants of God simply assume that their children are following their footsteps and are doing just fine.
But assumption never helped anyone.
Get practical and intimate with your kids. Teach them stepwisely the many concepts of life and faith you have come to know and are practicing. After all, isn’t it by deliberate work that you grew to become the giant you are? Never take anything for granted. Be sure they are actually getting it right. Make sure you take them up from the earliest age possible.
Don’t leave your farm while you work on others’.
I once stayed with a powerful prophet who had two boys who were in their late teens. These boys could not tell where the books of the bible were located – not even the common ones! He had noticed it when they were younger, but thought they would get over it as they grew older. Some years down the line, they still haven’t.
And the chances that they would, have grown slimmer by the day.
#3. Not Committed Enough to the Growth of the Union
The relationship between the father and mother sets the tone for everything in the house.
It affects the atmosphere (both spiritual and physical) in the home. It influences the children in no small measure.
Where the man and his wife are growing in their love, the children will see it. They’ll feel it. They’ll drink from it. They’ll learn from it. It will brood over them. When there is acrimony between spouses, the enemy comes in and does a lot of havoc. Part of that could easily be attacking the children.
This is why it is important for ministers to be committed to the improvement of their union, even if it requires withdrawing from engagements. If it requires going for counselling, it is worth it. Whatever it will take to keep the love soaring, please do. When the couple is working, the family will work. When the couple is failing, the family goes the same direction.
And what becomes of the children could be unimaginable.
A Way to Help
The family is not only the smallest unit of the society; it is for the church too. It is a big problem when the homes of Christian leaders are falling apart with their children going their own ways. The ripple effect is unquantifiable.
It has never been easy for preachers.
They labour over the people.
It won’t be out of place if the people also get on their knees often to pray for them, their kids and their entire families.
Church folks shouldn’t also put too much pressure on the kids. There is already a burden of expectation weighing down some of them.
Instead, where possible, they should be assisted to find their feet in the Lord.
The enemy is ever seeking to strike the shepherd so the sheep can be scattered in multiple directions.
But as much as lies within our power, we should fight it.
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Ogaga Eruteya is a Nigerian Christian minister, writer and speaker. He writes on Faith, Personal Development, Youth Development, and Life Realities. With his words, he seeks to inspire, motivate, propagate life’s truths and represent a sincere Christian voice. Learn more about Ogaga here.