Missionary Kids Have to Be Perfect


Missionary Kids Have to Be Perfect

It’s stressful when your survival depends on the opinion of others.

Missionary kids have to be perfect. The same is true for preacher’s kids. Why is this the case? And what can we as the church do to keep MK’s and PK’s from abandoning the church altogether because of a suffocating pharisaical standard that is not applicable to anyone else in the church?

It’s because missionary kids and preacher’s kids are held up as an example to the world. The church is watching their every move. The problem is that the child is still growing up, making mistakes, and learning, hopefully drawing closer to God. All of us stumble in our relationship with the Lord, and people in ministry are no different.

A man who is a missionary is required by God to support his wife and children. He must therefore care about the opinions of others, because supporters who disagree with your actions yank their support. If outward alterations in conduct will prevent your family from physically suffering because you don’t have enough money for food and bills, you go ahead and perform to the standard required by the people supplying your income. It’s bad enough to be on a missionary’s salary without supporters yanking the small income you have. Many missions agencies force missionaries to return to the United States if their support levels dip. If God has called you to the mission field, you feel forced to perform a certain way outwardly so that you can continue to obey God’s call on your life.

So what are missionaries or preachers reduced to doing? They put several outward rules in place that are not real. For example, when I grew up as a missionary kid in Guatemala, some Hispanics believed that going to movies was a sin, so we never went to movies. If you compound rule upon rule upon rule, you end up with a needlessly restricted life that is the opposite of the freedom we have in Christ. If we pursue true holiness and love God and others, no other outward rules should be enforced. Only the moral laws of God should matter.

Missionary kids and preacher’s kids have been pinched and glared at more by their parents than ordinary children, because those parents are under tremendous pressure. Church members distort their faces in an ugly way if a child of a preacher or missionary runs through the church sanctuary. Never mind that they give grace to the ordinary child doing the same thing. Ministry kids must have 100% self-control at all times or be punished.

No wonder so many children in ministry rebel against all of it and do the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to do. They feel that maybe they would be able to breathe under freer circumstances. But then they go to the extreme and actually break God’s real moral laws and end up with permanent pain and sorrow. I saw many of my missionary kid friends turn away from God, take drugs, and get pregnant. All because we as the church put them in straight jackets since they were babies.

God has the same standard for all His people. Please stop putting families in ministry on pedestals, and give grace to them.

To keep up with these missionary kid posts, like my Missionary Kid Page.

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10 Responses to “Missionary Kids Have to Be Perfect”

  1. Ticia says:

    We really do expect a lot from them, which is not completely fair to the poor kids.

    • Susan says:

      Exactly! I try to give grace to other people’s kids, too, even if they have different rules than we do. I think we all need to show grace to each other!

  2. Anna says:

    I am an MK and growing up I didn’t notice any pressure from others to be perfect. I always felt different and misunderstood and left out because my family wasn’t like other families in the US or in Niger, but yeah, no pressure to be perfect.

  3. Jen says:

    It seems the older I get the more I realize how growing up as an MK affected me, in both good ways and bad. I was just talking with my sister about this drive for perfection, and honestly our parents never told us we had to be perfect. I think we just knew that people expected that of us, even other children and youth our own age. And now as a Pastor’s Wife I’m keenly aware that it would be easy to have my own children feel the same pressure. I pray that we can keep them from such a burden. 🙂

    • Susan says:

      It’s great when parents in ministry try to address this with their children, so that their children understand they are really not under a different standard than everyone else. I think the pastor and the enders of a church can set the tone for grace in the congregation.

  4. My kids grew up as MKs because we were missionaries in Africa for 23 years. They know all about this. At the same time MKs are very blessed because they are third culture kids and learn to thrive in many cultures. What a blessing that you grew up in Guatemala.

  5. Joy Bryant says:

    So very true! It was hard for me as a kid, and it’s hard for my kids going through the same thing now! We have tried very hard not to expect too much from our kids, allowing them to choose what they participate in when visiting churches. But it is SUPER hard not to punish harder during those times!

    • Susan says:

      It’s difficult from the parents’ point of view; that’s for sure. I found out as a parent of small children that I had to consult the Holy Spirit each time my kids acted up to know the right thing to do in each instance. A lot of times the kid was being childish rather than rebellious, and should be treated with grace rather than both instances being treated equally. It’s especially hard when people are watching.

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