I know pastors’ kids—of all ages—who are doing well. Kids who love Christ and obey his Word. Kids who serve the church and who seek God’s glory.
I know other pastors’ kids—of all ages—who aren’t doing well. Kids who can’t be bothered to examine their own hearts or to get up for church on a Sunday morning. Kids who resent God’s commands regarding sexuality or his call for us to suffer. Kids who want to be loved by the world and who want nothing to do with the love of Christ.
Simply being the child of a church leader is no guarantee of spiritual health—and parents know this all too well. So where can we go for help?
Children Were Brought to Jesus
The familiar story in Matthew 19 provides hope and encouragement for ministry families who are raising children:
Then children were brought to [Jesus] that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matt. 19:13–15)
Parents who brought their children to Jesus had no illusions about their children’s well-being. They recognized that their kids had needs beyond their human ability to meet. By faith, they knew that Jesus was their kids’ only recourse. The parents in this story were probably not serene and smiling, as they often appear in children’s Bibles; like us, the parents in this story were desperate.
The parents were probably not serene and smiling, as they often appear in children’s Bibles; like us, the parents in this story were desperate.
And so they overcame every obstacle to bring their children to Jesus and plead for his help. They packed up children and supplies; they traveled dusty and dangerous roads; they refused to take the disciples’ no for an answer. Like the men who clawed a hole in the roof for their paralyzed friend (see Mark 2:1–12), and the mother who willingly compared herself to a dog to beg for relief for her demon-possessed daughter (see Matt. 15:21–28), and the woman who elbowed through the crush of people to tug at Jesus’s robe for healing from her decade-long affliction (see Matt. 9:20–22), these parents wanted Jesus’s mercy—and they wouldn’t be dissuaded.
And as he did for so many others who sincerely sought healing and salvation, Jesus responded to them with love. He welcomed the children, testified to their eternal value, prayed for them, and invited them to belong to his kingdom.
Let the Children Come
We bring our children to the same Jesus today. As we urge them to worship, pray for them, speak God’s Word to them, and press them to trust him for salvation, we present them to the only Savior of sinners and look for him to work in their hearts.
We do this by our example. We do this by our discipline. We do this in family worship and at mealtime prayer. We do this by bringing our children under the Word in corporate worship. We do this in faith.
Like the parents in today’s passage, we face obstacles to our task. Our kids’ rebellious attitudes, spiritual disinterest, or lethargy regarding the means of grace often make it hard. But Matthew 19 assures us Jesus loves to hear and answer the prayers of desperate parents.
Megan Hill will lead a microevent on “Raising Kids in Ministry: Insights from Pastors’ Kids” at TGC’s 2023 Conference, September 25–27, in Indianapolis. You can browse the complete list of topics and speakers. Register soon! This article is adapted from Partners in the Gospel: 50 Meditations for Pastors’ and Elders’ Wives by Megan Hill (P&R, 2021).