I have been told that "pastor's kid" should be its own diagnosis. Having been a "PK" for 27 years and a minister's wife for 6, I can't say that I disagree. Out of all the unique struggles that come along with living in the fishbowl, the inability to be accepted for who you are trumps them all. Pastor's kids are either the "rebel" or a "goody-good" but it is never acceptable for them to just be a normal kid with normal struggles. As for the pastor, he and his wife are to model the perfect, godly couple for the rest of congregation. What is often missing in ministry families is the ability to have a safe place to be authentic. One of the great ironies of being a family in ministry is having a plethora of people asking how they can pray for you, but never feeling like you can share your real prayer requests. The sad reality is that every church member or staff member you come across is not safe to tell your deepest, darkest struggles to. However, often families in ministry hold themselves to a higher standard than even God requires. God never meant for us to live the Christian life alone. While we tell that to our congregations, it is a spiritual truth that many ministers can’t claim for themselves. One too many times of being burned by someone we thought we could trust adds one more brick to the wall around our hearts.
One of the Enemy’s greatest and most effective tactics is isolation. When ministry families isolate they are most vulnerable to spiritual warfare. The reality is that we can only fake it for so long before the truth comes out. My husband and I have a catch phrase for when we are burnt out in ministry. We tell each other “I’m running on empty” when we feel ourselves giving and serving to the point of neglecting our own self-care. Families in ministry must pay attention to when they are “running on empty” because their families will suffer and eventually so will their ministries. The thought of asking someone for help may be daunting, but it is vital to the health of your family and ministry. Counseling provides a unique relationship for families in ministry where it is okay to be upset, sad, doubt God, and reveal real life struggles in a safe environment. I wholeheartedly believe counseling is invaluable to families in ministry to provide an environment where they can be human. As uncomfortable as it feels, there is great power in humbling ourselves to the point of recognizing we were never created to do this on our own.
Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The Bible scholars reading this know that this verse is literally about the body of Christ meeting for worship. However, families in ministry are “on the clock” during typical worship services. Counseling is not a substitute for worship but it does give a opportunity for families in ministry to receive the kind of encouragement and support that is difficult to receive at church. My prayer is that through counseling, ministry families are able to heal, be real, and as a result better navigate the fishbowl.
(As seen on meierclinics.com)