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Pastor: Are You Exasperating Your Spiritual Children?

Teen-aged angst exists for a lot of reasons: awakening hormones, the collision of emerging responsibilities and continued dependence, and the fact that lots and lots of fathers and mothers just don’t know how to empower their sons and daughters into adulthood. It can get nasty. Feelings get hurt. Sometimes for years. Everyone ends up in counseling. Decades are spent “processing.” People end up living trapped in another time, all the while avoiding the present and as a result, a cycle of frustration and failure is multiplied into another unsuspecting generation.

This cycle isn’t just happening at home. It’s happening right now in churches everywhere. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called cigarettes and black leather, essentially calling artists and creatives to “honor their mothers and fathers.” Too much art has been drawn out of the fountain of rebellion and reaction. The result is one generation after another becoming increasingly drunk on independence, a breaking away which requires that advancement come at the cost of relationships.

“Fathers, don’t exasperate your children”

I think it’s awesome that “honor your father and mother” and “fathers don’t exasperate your children” are written in the same passage. Oddly, though, you almost never hear anyone quote the latter.

There’s a lot of creativity being choked in the church because the fathers are smothering the kids to death. Like a plastic bag held over the head, many fathers (read for that, pastors) are controlling the life right out of the church, most of the time in the name of “vision”.

This one of the main reasons that the church hasn’t yet taken her rightful place as a fountain for all that is beautiful and compelling: we have fathers who believe that “fathering” is getting all the sons to do what they want done (work towards their singular vision). That isn’t fathering at all. It’s disheartening, and will ultimately divide the house.

True fathers empower their children to live out their own unique calling before God. True fathers work to build a family culture where people can be about all sorts of activity and expression without having to go rogue and “be the black sheep.” True fathers want their sons and daughters to go and do great things, even greater things than they were ever able to go and do. True fathers don’t compete with their children, they cheer them on. Yet I regularly meet pastors who are threatened by the ideas, skills, and power that their children posses. No doubt, a lot of this sort of insecurity is the result of pastors who are under the gun to perform, to make churches bigger, or be fired! But that’s another discussion for another day.

I’m well versed in all sides of this because I am a songwriter, I was a worship leader, and now, I am a pastor/father–and all my children are more talented than me! This isn’t something happening “out there” at “other churches”, this is something that the Lord is constantly challenging me on as well.

Pastors, fathers, mothers, let go a bit. Reshape the vision. Leading the church is way more about fathering and mothering than simply telling people what to do, and making sure that everything is in line with your one, singular life vision. Lets take the plastic bags off the heads of our children.

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adamrussell1@mac.com'
Adam Russell is a worship leader turned pastor. He also leads a worship band known simply as "The Embers." He and his wife, Heather, along with their three children, live and minister in central Kentucky.