“Your child may take a periodic tour away from God, but God is able to pull them back to himself.”
One of the greatest legacies of any pastor is for his or her children to grow up loving God and loving the church passionately.
Yet, this is often not the story of the children of pastors. Why? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question.
Through the years, hundreds of people have asked how they could pray for our family. Jeana and I were very clear through the years that our boys were living at home with us: “Pray for Josh and Nick to love God and love the church passionately.”
By grace alone, both Josh and Nick, now in their 30s, love God and love the church passionately. Josh is located in metropolitan Birmingham, Alabama, serving as the head football coach of the Hewitt Trussville Huskies. He and his wife, Kate, love God and love the church passionately.
Nick is the leader of our Cross Church staff team and serves as teaching pastor of not just our Fayetteville, Arkansas, campuses, but across the ministry. He and his wife, Meredith, love God and love the church passionately.
Now, both Josh and Kate and Nick and Meredith have the privilege of raising their children to live as they did and still do today: loving God and loving the church passionately.
Again, there is no easy answer to how your children grow up and love God and his church passionately. But perhaps these four things may be worth consideration.
1. Engage other people to pray for your children.
As a pastor, please do not think you are overspiritualizing the extraordinary challenge of raising your children. Pastors need to request of their church publicly and when asked privately, “Please pray for my children to grow up loving God and loving the church passionately.”
Pastor, you are continually called upon to pray for other people. There is nothing wrong with requesting that others pray for your children from the time they are toddlers all the way through their college years. This is not a sign of weakness, but personal humility and deep faith in God.
2. Teach your children to walk with God.
Pastors spend much time teaching people God’s Word and how to walk in God’s power through life. If we can do this for our church members, we should do this for our own children.
From the youngest to the oldest of your children, while they are living with you, teach them what it means to walk with God. Show them how to do it. We cannot expect them to walk or live in a way we have never shown them personally.
3. Give God a chance.
Many pastors feel they do not need to encourage their children to be involved in church ministries and activities, thinking it will be perceived as forcing them. I respectfully disagree.
My boys grew up always going to church—unashamedly, on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, for children’s activities and ministries, and student activities and ministries. We started with church—not sports, personal preferences, or peer influence.
Our boys were never bitter or resentful. They were afforded life-changing experiences at student camps and retreats, on mission trips, choir trips and multiple other experiences. Powerful relationships were formed and they are connected forever to their former student pastors.
Pastor, give God a chance with your kids. They need to be in spiritual environments as children and teenagers to have God do a work in their life.
4. Walk by faith, trusting God.
As parents, pastors need to teach their children to walk with God and continually place them in environments where God has a powerful chance with their kids. Then while asking people to pray for them, walk by faith, trusting God for their future with him and his church.
Your child may take a periodic tour away from God, but God is able to pull them back to himself. His Word never returns void and the prayers of his people have lasting influence with him.
Therefore, what we can do as parents, whether we are pastors or not, is walk by faith, trusting God.
In the meantime, love your children unconditionally and call out to God on their behalf in prayer daily, even periodically coupling those prayers with fasting.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is the senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and founder of the Cross Church School of Ministry. This article was originally published on Floyd’s blog at RonnieFloyd.com.