Friday, June 28, 2013

Fishbowl Battles

"Fishbowl Battles? What kind of title is that?" To be up front, this post is about preacher's kids. I have not always been a pastor's daughter, but I have been for about half of my life now. Though I was only 11 when my dad became a pastor, I remember the way it greatly changed my life, and the way I was viewed and labeled. While it has come with some good privileges, it has also come with some very real struggles that the public eye does not always see or understand. The point of this post is to give a little insight to the outsider about some of the struggles a preacher's kid faces. No, this is not to make you feel sorry for anybody, but preacher's kids are commonly labeled and misunderstood. I also understand that a lot of people think preacher's kids have attitudes, are stuck up, and think they're all that. I'm not disagreeing that some have become that way, because I have seen it happen; And that's not okay. But, while some may be that way, others also get put under that label. I have heard things like, "all preacher's kids are brats!" or "I don't really like preacher's kids." I have also been asked in surprise, "You're a pastor's kid?!" I will be addressing preacher's kids directly in this post as well as the outsider who may not understand the fishbowl battles.
 What do I mean by "fishbowl battles?" Sometimes, being a preacher's kid is like living in a fishbowl; all eyes on you and your life. Some people seem to watch your every move. Another reason I am posting this is to try and help preacher's kids - there are many preacher's kids out of church today, and sadly, already lost in eternity, because they couldn't handle the fishbowl life. They couldn't take the pressure of being expected to be perfect, never mess up, and be the example to everyone else. I'm not saying that God expects preacher's kids to be perfect, (Lord know they aren't!) but many times the people in the church sometimes watch and label without realizing how they are affecting the preacher's kid. The PK couldn't take the spotlight and when they struggle (just like every human being does) their mistakes and failures are often magnified and noticed above other's mistakes and failures, simply because they are the "preacher's kid," living in the fishbowl where everybody sees.  Many times the fish wants to hide in the shadows or under a rock to avoid the eyes of critics and the pressure that is sometimes hard to handle.
 I was never perfect, and never will be. Like I mentioned earlier, I have heard some people say that all preacher's kids were stuck up, spoiled brats, and I have seen others expect the opposite and assume that all preacher's kids have it together and that they should have it all together; Then when the PK makes a mistake, people are really disappointed, talk, and point fingers. I am thankful for good saints of God who prayed for me through the years that I struggled, and who saw me as a normal kid, like the other kids. I had feelings, struggles, and failures, just like all the other kids. When others seemed to watch and criticize my every move, decision, and failure, I sometimes felt like leaving. There have been days in the past where I felt like I couldn't take it anymore. I remember many times, mostly in my younger teenage years, I would shut myself in my room and cry, wishing people wouldn't label me or expect me to be better than anybody else. It's not like I could blame them - Saints look to their pastor as their leader and example, and naturally, they look at his family as well. I'm not saying it's wrong to do that, for it's actually very normal. I would just like to challenge saints to not be jealous of your preacher's kids, or expect them to be better than everyone. Please realize they are normal kids, they have to deal with their flesh and overcome sin just like everyone else, and yes, sometimes they fall hard and fail big time. I've seen it happen many times. When they fall, the way you respond will either help them up, or it can kill them. I know that pastors are very thankful for saints who pray for their kids.
Many preacher's kids have "jumped out of the bowl" so to speak. Sometimes they have real struggles and problems and don't want to go talk to their parents about it, like most normal kids do. Yes, we know our parents are there for us, but sometimes there are things you don't want to talk to your parents about. Some kids go to their pastor or a leader in the church, but we can't go to our pastor - he's our dad! I mean, we can, but many times, especially among guys, they don't want to. Guys don't always want to go talk to dad, and as a result, they hold everything until they can't take it anymore, and then they're gone. If you know of any preacher's kids who have gone off church scene, please pray for them. They need it. You many not understand the personal struggles that they never talk about publicly, but please pray for them.

I have seen preacher's kids marry the wrong person because they were so desperate to get out of the spotlight and out from under the pressure at their church. Sadly, their marriage ended tragically because they married out of God's will, trying to get away from the life they didn't chose and felt like they couldn't handle anymore. Please don't misunderstand - not all preacher's kids leave God. There are many of them who have turned out to be preachers, preachers wives, and a great blessing to their church. I know a lot of good preacher's kids who really are spiritual leaders, and as a result, some people do get jealous and think that the preacher's kid thinks they're better than everyone else, when they really don't think that. Of course, I'm not excusing any preacher's kids that really are choosing to be stuck up and think they're entitled to everything. Like I said, this is not okay, and I want to challenge preacher's kids to think twice about the words you choose, the things you do, and the way you treat the peers in your church.

Do you view yourself as "better" than them?
Do you think you're more important than them?

You're not. Everybody is important. Just because you have been placed in the fishbowl doesn't mean it's all about you. Don't think you can get away with whatever you want just because your daddy is the preacher.

Philippians 2:5 & 7 - "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: ........... But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:"

With great privileges come great responsibilities. Preacher's kids: Don't feel like you need to be better than anyone, because you're not better than anyone. Be an example of a servant: care for others and give of yourself. You won't regret living the life of a servant.

Questions and comments are welcomed.


Kendra Thaler said...

This is so good and so true ! Well put Jen! I was a preachers kid my whole life .. when I was 18 the struggle was so intense that I walked away and rebelled. Oh my how people in the church talked about me then ! *Is that Pastor Skinners daughter ??* it was bad.. thank God He revealed truth to me. That I was able to repent, and recieve the Holy Ghost. PKs in the truth, take advantage of having the Holy Ghost, get the spirit of prayer and surround yourself with a fortress of like minded people. It's so easy to let resentment and a cynical attitude build up when people talk about you.. but I pray that all PKs learn the lesson early on that people are people. Just because people are in church it doesn't mean they are incapable of hurting you, talking about you, etc. Some will pray for you, love and support you and others will talk and point the finger. Be encouraged ! God sees fhe struggle and wouldn't have allowed you to be a Pk if it wasn't His will :) Ahhhh sorry Jen super long comment but AWESOME POST ! I wish this were addressed more !!

Anali said...

Kindred, nicely said. I hope this will be a blessing and a help to those who need it. Also, having you and Hanna as my Kindreds I know you are flesh and bones like all of us, like me. Regardless of your "title" you are both great examples , and a lot of PK's are as well.
Love you !

Brittany Hearn said...

So true!! And said so perfectly!
I have no regrets of being in a preachers home but it is not the easiest life, that's for sure! But there's a reason for everything and for that I thank God, He placed me in the home He did!

Thanks for this post! :)

Carol Connell said...

Great post, Jen! I know being a preacher's kids has not always been a bed of roses for you or your brother. Well, actually it has been a bed of roses, but roses have thorns, and I know you have experienced some thorn pains in the past from comments that others made about you or attitudes that were displayed. We can't control what people will say or do, but we can choose how we will react to such circumstances. If false accusations come my way, I pray and try to treat it like water off a ducks back and not let it bother
I appreciate the comment above too from Kendra. It's nice to hear from someone else who has been there.
I pray your post will be a blessing to PKs out there that may be struggling. Thanks for sharing, and I love you dearly!


Mary Frances said...

Okaaaaaaaay I finally finished reading the whole thing from when you texted me...Good post Jen!!! About pastor's kids being brats/snobs some are...Idk if its cuz they're pks or just cuz thats the way they are!!! LOL I mean, some people are just ANNOYING just cuz thats who they are no matter WHO'S kid they are!!! AHAHAHA!!! I always have good memories with my pastor's family growing up...they were my best friends!

Cherie said...

Great post!!
Preacher's kids do go through a lot and shed many tears, but thank God for the PK's that have grown to be great men and woman that we can all look to.
This is our life and what we do, and it's not all glory, that's for sure! We have to put some thick skin on sometimes, but I thank God for each and every experience. I wouldn't trade my life for anything; it is an honor to be used of God and enjoy the benefits!

Good seeing you at PCC :))

Jennifer Connell said...

Thank you to everybody for your thoughtful and honest comments. I hope this post came across the right way - I am very thankful for my life and where I have been placed, but also understand some of the hidden struggles and wanted to help others. Thank you again for all the comments, I appreciate your response!

Mary~Elizabeth Bafford said...

I know I read this like a month later, but wow Jen! I love your insight! I'm so glad one of my peers addressed this and you did it in such a tasteful way. Even for those of us who AREN'T PKs, sometimes young people are given a stigma of being a "good girl" and that places us in the same fishbowl type of scenario. Like you said in your post, some people can't handle the pressure of being expected to be perfect all the time. I know I couldn't! I did leave for awhile, but thankfully God was merciful and I'm back now. I'm thankful God put this on your heart to blog about :) I definitely appreciate it!

Jennifer Connell said...

Mary! Thanks so much for your comment! I'm glad this could be of help to you! God bless and keep in touch! I'm glad you're back; making it to heaven is what matters most!