I Always Hated Being a Preacher’s Kid… (originally posted on MySpace)

I Always Hated Being a Preacher’s Kid…

United members who may read this – read this in full before you judge.  And remember, this expresses only MY thoughts – not my dad’s and not my mom’s.

My friend Amanda sent me the following link in an email today: http://leagueofpastorswives.blogspot.com/2007/08/not-victim.html.  She said in her email that it made her think of all the “pain and neglect” I felt growing up as a PK.  Well, I have now spent more than an hour reading through various pastor’s wives blogs who all participate in this one general blogroll.  If you are married to a minister, or are a minister’s kid, read through some of these blogs – they will make you find a kinship you didn’t expect to find with strangers online.  She had no clue what can of worms she was opening.

Now, before I go any farther let me tell you now that I love my father’s profession and would not go back and change very much (if any) of my childhood.  My dad went to Bible College when I was 1 year old.  That was in 1979.  While my dad fulfilled ministerial rolls at two churches while we were at Roanoke Bible College (Elizabeth City Church of Christ in Elizabeth City, NC & Roanoke Acres in Manteo, NC) neither of those prepared us for his service at Parham Hills and now United Christian Church.  For those who don’t know Parham Hills merged with a smaller congregation 5-6 years ago and became United.  My dad became the full-time minister of the Parham Hills congregation on October 3, 1982.  I loved church which was good because we practically lived there.  By the time I was seven or eight, I could light the pilot light for the heating system in the church.  I knew how to unlock the doors so that they stayed unlocked.  I knew how to set the AC/Heat and what it needed to be set to before leaving the church.  I knew where every cleaning supply was and exactly how Mrs. Bess (the custodian at that time) wanted that church to be.  By the time I reached middle school, the magic of being the PK had worn off, and I was beginning to get a rash from being rubbed the wrong way.

Why did I hate being the preacher’s kid so much?  Sometimes people at our church treated (and still do treat) my dad like a dog.  He was always the last to leave everything – because he was expected to be the one to lock up.  We’ve just now gotten him out of that habit.  He cleaned up after everyone and had his intelligence questioned on a regular basis.  People in the church didn’t (and some still don’t) respect him.  This really hurts you as the child.  I really hate it when people talk bad about my father.  He works HARD for his congregation and loves every single member – even the ones who are hard to love.  He spends countless hours sitting in hospitals and nursing homes comforting the sick and dying as well as their families.  He flies home from long awaited family vacations to sit with a family during a major and unexpected surgery.  He leaves in the middle of the night to help in crisis times.  He misses ball games and concerts because church members need him.  He is emotionally vacant at home sometimes because he is giving so much at work.  My dad is an EXCELLENT preacher and an even better minister.  Minister’s Appreciation Day or Month?  Ha!  He’s lucky to get two cards.  Yes, being a minister is my dad’s job, but I’m not sure people in a congregation understand all that that job entails.  While most of us go to work at a certain time and then come home, my dad doesn’t have set hours.  Yes, that sounds great, but it also means that your personal life isn’t really your personal life.  Work doesn’t stay at work.  On top of that, most of us have a boss – singular.  Maybe we have a couple of people supervising us.  A minister has an entire congregation always watching what they are doing.  Do you ever have a day when you feel like nothing you do pleases your boss?  Imagine having 100+ bosses to keep happy.  Think it is hard to please the members of your family?  Try to please a 100+ member family!

On the note of a personal life – Ministers and their families do not have one.  Again, I know my dad chose this profession, but seriously -everyone at church feels like they have a right to know everything about our lives and then they feel as though they have the right to give their opinion on it.  My dad’s weight – go ahead, let him know what you think.  Don’t like his hair – let him know.  Don’t like what I’m wearing – please, complain to my dad – it really makes his day.  Even now, at 29 years old, church members enjoy “tattling” on me if they know I’ve done something wrong.  See me speeding? please call me down in the church parking lot for it.  Embarrass me all you need to in order to make yourself feel big.  Oh yeah, caught the preacher’s daughter doing something bad.

This October will mark 25 years that my dad has been with the same congregation.  Do you know how rare that is???  Ministers don’t stay at churches that long.  Do you know that the only “anniversary” our church ever recognized was our 10th year (I think, I was young) and that was because it coincided with a big anniversary for the church itself?  One of the ministers in our area got a CRUISE from his congregation as an anniversary present.  Not that my dad needs or wants a cruise, but a thank you would be nice. 

And for those times you don’t “like” my dad: If my dad preaches a sermon you don’t like, well sit back and remember that time when you had a car accident and my dad made it to the scene before your spouse did.  If my dad is having a bad day and seems a bit snippy – think about the chance that it is possible that he’s been up all night with a member who is going through a very private and secret divorce.  Something my dad says pisses you off – think of how many children my dad sees sick or dying.  My dad does way more than sit in the church or show up and preach on Sundays.  He doesn’t get a “day off”.  My entire childhood, my dad had Fridays off.  How often did my dad actually get Friday off?  Never – very rarely if ever – seriously!

What if you need my dad and you call him on his “day off”?  What would you do if (1) he didn’t answer his phone or (2) he answered and told you he’d be by tomorrow because today is his day off.  Ministers don’t get that option.  It just isn’t how it works.  I don’t even think my dad has a designated day off now.  His day off is the one with the least calls.  That said, don’t stop calling my dad when you need him.  It is his job.  I just want people to respect the work he does.

When you were sick – did one of your parents stay home with you?  That must have been great.  Do you know how many hospital waiting rooms or nurses stations I have slept in while my dad went to visit.  Why did he do that?  Because if he didn’t visit, he wasn’t doing his job.  Who cares if his own kid is sick and throwing up in a trash can down the hall.  Once I was old enough to stay home by myself – dad would make the soup, turn on the t.v, get me what I needed and then be off to be the minister.  He’d call home and check to see if I needed anything.

All that said (big breath here).  I now have a much greater and deeper appreciation for my father and all that he does for the members of my church and for my family.  My dad is an incredible minister and I have forgiven him and the members of our church for forgetting that I was important, too.  That I needed a dad just as much as they needed a minister.  I have a better understanding why Catholic priests aren’t supposed to be married or have kids.  My dad is pulled in a hundred different directions every day.  My dad is a great preacher, he is a great confidant, he is a great counselor.  When I went through my divorce, he was my hero.  He took better care of me than anyone and I love my dad more every day because of the man he is.

So, point of this post – respect your minister.  Thank your minister.  LOVE YOUR MINISTER.  PRAY FOR YOUR MINISTER.  And don’t forget that, though he chose to enter this profession, his family often gets neglected and mistreated along the way.  Love them, too.  Minister’s kids are normal kids.  God doesn’t create them any differently – except maybe thicker skin.  They need encouragement.  You don’t know them as well as you think you do – be careful how you speak to them.  You can leave permanent damage that just gets covered up as they grow.  They are just like your kids or you when you were a kid.  I wouldn’t take my dad out of the ministry for anything in the world.  He has something to offer people that no one else can offer in the same way or with the same love.

Dad, you rock as a minister.  I love you.  I love the sacrifices you have made throughout the last 25 years.  I am a better person because of the example of Christ’s love that you have set for me.  I am strong in my faith, not because you are a preacher, but because you and mom encouraged me to question my faith & go to other churches – explore and become sure of why I believe what I believe.  Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for your dedication.  You are the world’s best daddy, even if I didn’t appreciate that growing up.  You did your best to meet my needs while meeting the needs of so many others.  No, you are not perfect – but you are perfect for me.

Thank you, Amanda.  I loved reading through some of those blogs.  I love that minister’s wives have come so far in some respects – some refuse to be treated like dirt because they can’t talk back.  I love that my feelings as a child were common to preacher’s wives and kids.  I took comfort in reading through the blogs.  Thank you for what your email said.  It means more than you realize.

Wow! Where has the summer gone?

So, where has the summer gone?  Last time I wrote was July?  A month ago?  Sorry…I do check myspace for messages and comments more often and even have a Facebook site, too.  Forgive me, xanga friends, I think I may be overwhelmed with internet space!  Since I have the premium membership for now, I’ll continue posting until it ends.  I may posts my posts on myspace, too, and eventually just blog there.

The last month has been BUSY!  July 21-29 was my week of church camp at Oak Hill Christian Service Camp (www.oakhillcamp.org).  For those of you who don’t know, my week is not your usual week of camp.  My week is called “Music & Drama” and that is just what it is (www.oakhillcamp.org/md_home).  My campers come in a day earlier than other weeks (on a Saturday) and that evening we have audtions for speaking parts and solos for the summer’s musical.  Parts are announced the next morning at breakfast and then we have our very own church service at camp.  It is great fun and we often have the families of our staff members attend (like my hubby, Jeff).  Sunday afternoon we begin rehearsals for choreography and singing.  Sunday night, our main speaking parts go to the hosting church for a blocking rehearsal.  This is good because non-major parts stay at camp and sing! sing! sing! and then play games until we return.  Monday brings a day of rehearsal – morning, afternoon, and night.  We start the day with breakfast and then head to the host church to start rehearsing on stage.  Now, my campers do get rest time after lunch for one hour and then about an hour of free time.  Some people turn this into a two hour nap and that is perfectly okay with us.  After free time we have small group devotions and then another rehearsal.  Dinner at camp and then rehearsal at the host church again.  We get back in time for canteen and campfire.

This year, we actually had a real campfire on Saturday and Sunday!  Monday we reverted back to lampfire which is just easier since no one has been on the campgrounds to actually build a proper fire.  This year, I skipped Monday campfire because rehearsals had been rough and I needed some time sans-campers.  This was nice, since I used that alone time to call home and talk to my wonderful hubby.  Tuesday brings run-throughs.  Tuesday morning we had two rough runthroughs putting the drama and music together and still teaching some choreography!  AHHH!!!  Lunch, rest time, free time and then we returned to the host church for a rare afternoon rehearsal – this isn’t always normal, but we needed it!  After dinner, we have “dress rehearsal”, but no one wears their costumes.  Dress rehearsal to us means the staff interjects as little as possible in the program.  We did three complete run throughs between 6:30 and 9:30.  That was really good for us!  The final run-through was great and we felt ready to leave on Wednesday.

Yep – you read correctly, we LEAVE on Wednesday for a TOUR!  Are you reading this?  My teens (ages 12-18) learn an entire youth musical (45-55 minutes long) between Saturday and Tuesday night and we leave on tour on Wednesday.  Our program this year was “WAITERS” and was set in a restaurant.

Tour this year began in Bumpass, VA at Bethany Christian Church.  We got there early enough to run the entire program one more time.  The show that night was great, with very few flub ups.  I was sure proud of my kids.  I had the pleasure of staying at my friend (and co-dean’s) house that night so I slept well.  Thursday we loaded up and headed for Newport News, VA.  We had a cookout at my grandmother & great-aunt’s house and played yard games like volleyball, rope-a-dope, and bocci and some people took good long naps in the long lawn chairs provided. 

Thursday night we performed at Denbigh Christian Church.  This program was too funny to give you great detail, but here is a shortened version: one of our non-mains said a line one scene too early, confusing our mains and sending us from scene two to scene three without any break or musical number.  Most campers didn’t even catch this, but the staff immediately started scrambling.  We attempted to stop the scene, but couldn’t get a good spot and didn’t want to jump up and alert the audience to the dilemma.  Instead, I help up a sign letting campers know what song they’d be singing (they were expecting to stand and sing the one they skipped).  The one we skipped to had choreography in it that campers had elected to sit out and be customers – needless to say, due to the “oops”, these campers were standing on stage and not seated at a table.  They handled it like pros following the people around them and the audience never caught on.  We got them seated after that number and went on with the show.  Mom, another dean, starts signing “Encore” to me, but I can’t figure out how we’re going to work that out.  Once the program ends, mom jumps up and hurries to a microphone.  She, like the pro she is, say, “We’re going to give you an encore this evening with a song called “For the Lord” – our skipped song, allowing us to also perform it and feature the campers with solos.  The kids jump up and take their positions for this song and perform it like they completely understood what happened – even though most did not.  It was a classic camp flub-up and they pulled it together like professionals.

Friday we left for Winston-Salem, NC to perform at Pinedale Christian Church.  The music minister at Pinedale is Jeff Marks, who was the creator of Music & Drama 22 years ago so this was a GREAT treat to perform for him.  I was a camper under his deanship when I was 12,13,14, & 15 and now I’m directing the show.  How cool!  This program was excellent and Jeff let us use some stage mics that made my severely outnumbered tenors sound magnificent!  Go boys!!!  Saturday brought a play day at Lake Gaston.  We invade some friends of my family’s house and take over their little portion of Lake Gaston.  They have family and friends who also live on the lake who bring their boats and our kids get to tube and ski-bob.  It is really fun.  We eat lunch there and it is always so good!!!  Saturday night, we performed for our lake hosts at their church, Pleasant Hill in Gasburg, VA.  Minus one camper who got sick from the sun, it was an excellent show!  That evening we headed back up the road to Chester, VA where we spent the night with families from the Chester Christian Church.  Bobbi, Christie, Missy and I had a house with no host so we got to make ourselves at home and really relax.  Christie even fell asleep on the couch next to me during conversation.  Our hostess showed up the next morning in time for coffee and to give us a ride back to the church.  This was our best Sunday a.m. performance ever!  The kids had energy and the audience really got into the show, often talking back to the kids with “amens” and “you said it”s.  *More info about personal fun at Chester below*  After lunch at Virginia Center Commons (where hubby Jeff joined me and got to see my new haircut – which we’d all kept a secret from him), we headed back to Mechanicsville Church of Christ for our final show for 2007! 

A quick run-through with just blocking reminders – no music or lines – and it was time to chill and get ready.  This show was absolutely the best in Music & Drama history – hands down – no questions!  Doug Gross from MCC provided us with stage lighting that we’d never had and it really completed the look of the show.  The kids were on and they gave their all.  Seriously – this one will go down in history as the show to beat!

*Extra note about Chester – I got to see two friends that I never get to see!  Scott Preston, who was a M&D camper with me, visited us that morning during rehearsal before he went to work.  It was great to see him & hopefully we’ll keep in better touch with each other.  AND I got to see my friend, Jeff Ward.  Now, let me tell you – if there had been a “dream man” back in the day – he was it.  He called me teeny bopper and changed my world when it came to music preferences.  I was all NKOTB and he was Ride.  He played bass and I loved to sit on the edge of the stage and watch.  Talk about ga-ga, girls.  I guess we know where my taste for bass playing Jeff’s came from (my own hubby Jeff plays bass).  Though he was actually friends with my friend Amanda, he let me believe that he and I were best buds.  He let me tag along on all his camp adventures – like hiding in the woods during Capture the Flag senior high weeks and making Elephant Titus come to life (his brother and friend actually kidnapped Amanda & me during a serenade one night).  In the last year, Jeff Ward and I became “friends” on myspace and we actually message back and forth like real friends do.  Once my work schedule settles down, he and I are going to grab lunch and at some time I’m taking hubby Jeff to see Jeff Ward play.  It was a lot of fun to introduce him to my girls from camp and now I’m scheming to set him up with a dear friend (though I’m not telling who yet!).  What would I have done had he ever shown any real interest in me?  Sometimes I wonder…  The currenly listening band is the latest musical influence he’s had on me.  Their song “Ashes” is his myspace song.

Now I’m back at work and missing my campers (will, most of them).  It was so much fun, but I’m glad it is only one week a year.  It is so high stress that I’m not sure I could do it more often!!!  It is good to be back to life with hubby – I really miss him while I’m gone and apparently he and our furry children miss me too.

Thanks for reading…I’ll try to get back to posting more regularly.