Dec 21, 2005

first family?

Perhaps you may have heard about the recent incident regarding Joel Osteen's wife on an airplane. After all, it made national news.

Or maybe you heard the one regarding the web site devoted to the twin girls of President George and Laura Bush. You know, the one that is all about any choice they make that has a question mark about it.

Then again, is this any different than the attention Lisa Marie Presley received growing up, not to mention Julian and Sean Lennon, simply because their dads were innovators in music?

Why do these stories make the news? It's odd how having a famous parent can affect a kid, spouse, or total family image. Suddenly anything one person says is magnified through the lens of "celebrity."

The reason I mention this is because I have experienced a bit of this recently. I've heard on at least two occasions how well my kids have behaved in children's church and how responsive they were to the lessons. "That's great!" I quickly responded, thankful they were doing well. On both occasions it was then said, "When I found out they were yours (a.k.a. "pastor's kids"), it all made sense."

Call me a dreamer, but I have this hope that my boys and wife can be themselves in a church congregation. She's not expected to play the piano and lead the weekly woman's tea function, and my boys can feel the freedom to succeed and fail as individuals (and not because they're "Tony's son"). I want my wife to be able to say "ouch" when she is hurt, and my boys to be able to run around in a building where the church happens to meet without being told they should set a better example.

By the way... I want to do that, too. Run around in the room often called a sanctuary (which thankfully I can where I currently teach... and eat pumpkin pie on stage).

Alright... that was a tangent. Let's summarize.
  1. We all know that there is a stereotype for pastoral families to have it all together. After all, it's biblical, right?
  2. Because we know it's a stereotype, we try not to feed it.
  3. But honestly... even though you know both of these things, do you still expect (even on an unconscious level) a pastor and his family to be more-than-human?

The confessional is open...


derek bethay said...

Being in local church ministry is like living in a glass house.

Logan Bennett said...

Hey man I totally agree with you, PK's are always supposed to be "setting an example" I think a lot of times that is why a lot of them stray so far away, because they can not live up to Human Expectations. Humans tell them that they are supposed to be flawless, and leave no room for mistake. Our pastor (I am not a pastor yet I just preach) his kids are awesome, not because they are perfect, but because he has taught them and everybody around them that they are not going to be perfect, and that is OK. It is not so much teaching your kids that they need to be flawless, it is teaching everyone else in the world that your kids are going to make mistakes and that is OK.

Michelle said...

I was a youth pastor for a year-and-a-half. I wish someone had watched me a little more closely. Maybe they would have figured it out when I started to burn out big-time. I had no real accountability, and the truth is, for awhile our pastor's family didn't, either. One family left the church because of conflicts. Some changes were made, but I don't know exactly what. The new youth paster (who used to be one of my kids) says he has no more accountability than I did.

On the other hand, the yp before me was constantly hassled by certain members of the vestry and fired for what was essentially a misunderstanding. So I think it can go either way. Neither extreme is good.

Brian Bowen said...

I think a lot of people expect more from the pastor and his family. I mean isn't that a typical interview question "Sooo does your wife play the piano?" Ok, so maybe that was only in the older SBC churches I once attended.

I have also seen where the pastors kid can do just about anything and be excused for it... well... because he's the pastor's kid. I will agree, it sure is nice to have someone tell you how wonderful your kids were. I mean sometimes... when they walk up and say... "OOOOhhh today your son...." you kinda just hold your breath for a second and hope it wasn't that bad.

Wow you have me thinking about so many differant things... like you mean its OK to actually run around and have fun at this place we call church? Heck, I got some looks just recently because I was throwing a football with some kids in the sanctuary... well then there was the broken clock in the dance room... clocks/footballs... they don't mix.

One more thought... I hope my children act the way they do not because of who I am, but because of who they are.

Ian said...

As a "PK" myself I liked this post. My experience was a good one, however many of my fellow PK friends were not as fortunate while growing up in the Church. Some are now leaders in the "Emerging" Church, for some its payback. Anyway Just a piece of advice If you drive a beat up Church van don't drop your kids off to School in it. When the teachers laughed that was tough, maybe you can see why I can take the heat at my blog.

Tony Myles said...

Good call on the church van. :)

Brian - I think it's all in your definition of church and sanctuary. The New Testament defines the church as God and people, and the sanctuary is no longer a building but is God in a human. When we start calling rooms "sanctuaries" we add fuel to the fire.

Brian Bowen said...

I agree 100% about the uses of the word church and sanctuary...

I simply used the word here because I figured it would convey the area of the building I was talking about in one word verses saying... the big room in the big building that we gather in, with the projector and where our senior pastor typically teaches... :)

Anonymous said...


I don't think that my having been a PK contributed to my becoming Roman Catholic. I do think that the Western Church's rule about celibacy for diocesan priests is likely to be relaxed if not removed in this century, but I favor the idea of restricting ordination to those whose children are "up and out". There are a bunch of reasons that it just makes sense :-)

Anonymous said...

Erm, the "confessional" might be open, but this isn't where I come for absolution, awright-y? ;-)