Monday, December 15, 2008

Coping As A Preacher's Child

The preacher had the attention of the congregation. The message was sinking in. She suddenly launched into a story. “I got home yesterday and one of my daughters told me ‘mom, you know we should start dancing like this’”, then she demonstrated what she thought was break dancing. The whole church laughed.

“Yeah right”, one girl said as people turned to look at her. She bowed her head to avoid the eyes. “There we go again.” That girl was me. How could someone just lay down the whole story of my life for some group of believers to hear? Well, that’s not my style of living. I mean. How do you cope when everybody knows how you were born and all the surrounding circumstances, when you turned thirteen (and every other age for that matter), when you passed WAEC, even when you became a woman (huh!)? Nothing ever went unnoticed – and unannounced.

A lot of us have to cope with parents who are not only Christians but also leaders of other Christians. Maybe not everyone has to battle with being exposed during a sermon on Sunday or any other service day, but we sure have to deal with all the eyes that look at us and the mouths that say “that’s the preacher’s child”, or “and she calls herself a preacher’s child”. Oh no! That statement has a way putting me on the edge.

Or even those people you don’t really like but you have to smile at them and say “Good evening, Mrs. Jegede, how’s Bisi?”, when Bisi bullies you at school everyday. And yes. I think another big challenge is trying to see your preacher-parent as mum or dad at home and pastor in church. Sincerely, sometimes, the pictures just don’t fit (you know what I mean). Actually, I can’t begin to list all the ways in which we have challenges with our parents being preachers.

So, you really hate this kind of life and you’ve told your Preacher-parent you can’t cope with his /her using you for examples every time but they just don’t seem to stop, and all the church members don’t seem to remember that you’re as human as they. What do you do?

You must first realize that your parents love you – a lot! This may be hard for you to accept at this time, but it’s true. I’ll take this from my friend’s view. She said “your parents love you and that’s why your name is the first that comes to their minds when they are talking.” I didn’t believe it then. Look at it this way. If you have a pet dog and you love it very much, whenever you see another person’s pet, even if it’s not a dog, you readily want to talk about your dog. It’s the same way with your parents. They readily want to talk about you because you make them proud. So next time you’re embarrassed, brace up and put up your best smile like it isn’t you being talked about. Look at the crowd confidently as if to say ‘yes, that’s me’. Like someone said. ‘Act the way you want to feel and you’ll feel the way you act.’ Act confidently and soon, you’ll feel confident even if you’re being talked about. And you know what? Love them back.

Also, as the Bible says, it’s the son that the father loves that he chastises (Proverbs 3:12). Trying to see that parent of yours, who shouts at you in the house and even canes you till you cry, as the loving pastor who is always smiling and petting children, could be very difficult. It could even make you wonder if he’s pretending or putting up a front. Then the people from church come to you and say ‘Oh, I wish your mother was my mother’ (or father as the case may be) and you go thinking ‘Mmhm. Why don’t we exchange for just one week?’ Well, you’ve got the answer already. Parents who really love their children chastise them if they do wrong. It does not follow that they should cane every other child doing wrong. That’s for their parents to do. The Bible says ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.’ Your parents don’t want to spoil you so, caning you is not against the rules.

Here comes the interesting part. How do you cope with all the people who expect so much of you because you’re the pastor’s child? This is easily the most difficult challenge a preacher’s child faces. Having to ‘live up to standard’ (to the extent of behaving like an adult when you’re just a teenager) is quite hard. Stuff like the kind of music you listen to, the kind of clothes you wear, your speech and even your facial expressions are easily picked on. Tell you what? It’s simple. The Bible makes it clear. To whom much is given, much is expected. Your dad or mum pastors a whole church and is an example to the congregation. Easily, you’re the example for the congregation’s children because they believe the preacher’s child behaves as a result of what the preacher preaches so, much is expected of you.

This is not to scare you or make life difficult for you to live, but you have a part to play. You’re a Christian and so, you must exhibit the life of a Christian. You don’t have to forfeit your youthful exuberance to please others. Use it to serve God. Listen to good Christian music, wear decent clothing, smile and be ready to listen. Get involved with the lives of other teens in church. Share stuff, have get-togethers, and centre your life round Christ. Matthew 5:16 says ‘…let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds, and praise your father in Heaven.’ If you live your life to please God, being an example to others won’t be so difficult and may even be a good idea ’cause we sure want some more youth for Christ.

I could go on and on but space won’t allow. However, I’ll leave you with these. God doesn’t make mistakes. Being a preacher’s child is one of the very good plans that God has for you (Jeremiah 29:11). Don’t forget, there are also many good things about being a preacher’s child so, don’t only look at the bad side of things. Live your life to the fullest in Christ. Being a preacher’s child is not such a bad idea!


Written by Ife Ogunkanmi

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