Dr Simphiwe Mandlesilo is an author, motivational speaker, a pastor’s kid and a senior neurology registrar at Wits University. In this article he shares his experience as a pastor’s kid.
There is a popular saying, “A pastor does not give birth to a pastor”, which is often true.
Pastors’ Kids (PKs) often grow up to be rebellious, some to the point of even hating the church. It is easy to just judge them and label them as “spoilt brats” but few of us have actually tried to look at the root cause of their rebellious behaviour.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”
GROWING UP AS A PASTOR’S KID
I am from a strict Christian background. My father was a well-respected pastor in Mount Ayliff in the Eastern Cape. This put a lot of pressure on me growing up as a pastor’s kid.
I was under a lot of pressure from my family, church and the community at large. Pastors’ kids are expected to behave like angels. For me, my problems were coming mainly from church members. There was a granny at church who made it her personal mission to watch me like a hawk. Everything I did – be it at church or school – she would find out about it and run to my father to tell him about my “sins”.
I would often get a serious hiding from my father for putting his reputation at stake. This pushed me to live a life of pretense. This is a norm with many of the PKs.
As a defense mechanism, PKs try to live the kind of life that their parents and church members expect them to live. This usually ends in disaster because the parents get convinced that their kids are saved, while they are just putting up an act.
The day the PKs finally escape from their parents’ strong hold, which is often when they go to tertiary institutions far away from home, then they start doing outrageous things and their true characters get exposed.
From then on, it takes the grace of God for them to change their ways. My advice to pastors, the church and the society at large is that they must understand that pastors’ kids are not different from other kids. Allow them to be kids and make mistakes.
Don't put unnecessary pressure on PKs. Instead, love and pray for them. To the PKs reading this: if you have lost your way, come back to the loving God who is willing to forgive all your mistakes.