Being a pastor’s kid is awesome. In fact, I would go so far as to say that being born the son of a pastor is one of the greatest gifts that God has ever given me. When I think of all of the millions of children who are born the son or daughter of a Hindu farmer in India or an agnostic shop keeper in China, I am overwhelmed at the kindness of God that I would be born the son a faithful gospel preacher in the United States. My father took care to teach and live out the gospel for me every day of my young life, and I was always confident that my father genuinely enjoyed his relationship with Jesus.
The Awesome Dad Factor
Usually men become a pastor for a reason: they are gifted for ministry, they love God’s Word, and the church recognizes those gifts in them. Pastors are usually faithful to read God’s Word and faithful to live it out. As pastors they're accountable to an entire congregation who expects them to actually obey God's Word. Those are all good ingredients for the making of a great dad.
When I was a kid my dad was my hero, and I loved the fact that so many people in our community looked up to him. He was great at explaining God’s truth to my sister and me, in large part because he had so much practice explaining the Bible. Sure he was busy, but aren’t all successful men busy? At least he didn’t have to travel every week like so many of my friends' fathers, and his place of work was always open to me. It was never a mystery as to what he was doing all day, and I always felt welcomed at the church.
Even more, being in ministry afforded him opportunities that most men did not have. For example, my father was the chaplain of my high school football team and got to stand on the sidelines with me during the football games. After I made a big play or missed an important tackle my dad was always right there to encourage me and get me back up on my feet. All of the other kid’s dads were in the stands or getting in late from a business trip.
The Church Factor
By God’s grace I became a Christian at a young age, but even before I came to love Jesus, I loved the church. When you are a PK the church becomes like a second home. I was always comfortable at the church, and even at a young age I was aware of its importance. When missionaries spoke to the church, I enjoyed dinner with them and learned firsthand about the amazing things God was doing around the world. When my high school rock band needed a place to practice we had tens of thousands of dollars worth of sound equipment at our disposal. And until you have played Pew Football with your dad in the sanctuary, you haven’t really lived.
Beyond all of the “perks” of being a PK, I also learned so much about ministry. As a child I made hospital visits with my dad and watched him pray with a family at their wits' end. I watched my dad share the gospel with people and witness people come to Christ. I learned compassion, hospitality, and love. I heard and saw the most incredible stories of gospel transformation. The church became so integral to me at a young age in a way that it wouldn’t have if my dad had been an attorney or a banker.
The Calling Factor
Preachers talk a lot about calling. Just the other night I heard a preacher say, “You aren’t in that neighborhood or workplace by accident. Don’t you know that God has called you there?” This providential “calling” of God applies to everyone in Christ. As a Christian and as the son of a pastor, I genuinely felt like God had given me a special calling. My dad never explained this calling to me or put this expectation on me. Still, I was always honored to be a PK and to have the other kids in the children’s ministry and youth ministry look up to me. Men need models, women need models, and kids need models. When the pastor's children love the Lord and faithfully live as disciples, the whole church is encouraged with a model that other families so desperately need.
To be clear, I wasn’t perfect, but I was a Christian. And just as we expect anyone who serves the King of kings to do so with faithfulness, conviction, and joy, we should expect the same if their dad is a pastor.
I realize that being the son of a pastor can at times be tough, but so can being the son of pharmaceutical salesmen who travels every week, or the daughter of a high school football coach after a losing season. I had a great dad who overcame the challenges of ministry to make me feel loved and important. I was always sure that my mother, sister, and I were his three favorite church members, and I will always consider it a great honor to be the son of Pastor John Dees. He is a great pastor but an even better dad.