CHILDREN FROM THE MANSE
“Pressure versus faith”
Nii Odartey Lamptey (Connexional MYF Vice Chairman)
In the Ghanaian context and the African setting, the man of God, the Pastor, or the Reverend Minister is highly considered as a father, a spiritual leader and a shepherd who does not only cater for his flock of church members but manages his home and children. That expectation somewhat places a high demand of good moral standard and upbringing of their kids in all dimensions. Children born and raised from the “Manse” are seen quite differently in the African context by friends, church members and the society at large. The demeanor of the children from the church manse must reflect their parent’s life if not following their calling as pastors. This perception and expectations from the African context places some level of pressure not only on the children but their parents as well.
Children from the Manse are often under a lot of pressure to be perfect, or at least to act like it so they do not disgrace the family and the church doctrines. Many children from the Church Manses try to live up to everyone’s expectations, and this can lead them to practice the very hypocrisy they see in others. I am not a Manse boy, but I really do appreciate and interact with my friends from the Manse. It is very vital to note that, those who are entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of children, are expected to do so with alacrity and seriousness. Parents in one breath are to understand the changes, pressures, worries and expectations of their children and provide them with needed care, love and attention. In another breath, the Church and Community is also expected to provide guided support for these children.
How the children feel
“My church members and the youth expect me to be an angel, blameless and perfect in all I do. They want me to get straight A’s in my results and walk calculatedly. What hurts most is, they refer me to my father all because he is the Minister-in-charge of the congregation”
These are the words of a young Minister’s daughter whose father shepherds a congregation as a Reverend Minister. According to her, the over 2000 members of the church had fixed their eyes on her, monitoring her every move from home, church, school and social life. She sees the Manse now as a solitary confinement. A passionate request for change of environment was made, but she has no choice than to ensure.
What parents says (Ministers)
Reverend Ministers and Pastors are very much aware of the significance of taking good care of their children as directed in the Bible, and are cognizant of the expectations of the church and community at large. However, the growing process in modern times does not come easy. It is therefore impossible to overestimate the influence of parents who understand the hearts of their children. Research shows that during the most important transitions of the Manse child life, including those periods when youth are most likely to drift away from the Church, the greatest influence does not come from an interview with the Bishop or some other leader but from the regular, warm, friendly, caring interaction with parents. The absences of these have an adverse effect of these children. For our interactions with them is to truly touch their hearts, we have to pay attention to them just as we would pay attention to a trusted adult colleague or close friend. Most important is asking them questions, letting them talk, and then being willing to listen yes, listen and listen some more even hearken with spiritual ears.
What the Bible Says
Children are very precious to the Lord. It was recorded one time that the disciples were having a (theological) discussion about who was greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, and Jesus presented a child as a vital hint to what the Kingdom of Heaven is surely like. This was a great surprise to them, and they do not seem to have grasped the content of what he was trying to say until after Pentecost. The issues are, how do we understand the children from the Manse, what does the Bible say about children and their significance in theology, how does the church and community relate to these facts? The Biblical Paradigm for Discipline suggests that in Proverbs 22:6 (Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it).
Here is a Call by God to parents to train (lead, disciple) their children. According to John C. Maxwell, to provide these training, parents must focus on three key words:
- Modeling: A good example is worth a thousand sermons. What you do has more impact on your children than all the talking you could ever give.
- Management: Good management is the ability to discern the uniqueness of a child and teach him or her accordingly. We are to train up a child the way he/she should go. This may mean we will have to adapt our style, depending on the child’s temperament and disposition.
- Memories: Parents should create memories because memories are more important than things. “When he is old, he will not depart from it”. This implies that the child retains some memories of his early experiences and then later in life embraces it.
What we can do
What can be done to stem the tide of preachers’ kids leaving the faith and eliminating the pressure? It is very important to realize that this is part of Satan’s overall strategy against the church. When ministers’ children leave the faith, the church loses future leaders (Johanna Acheampong, 2016-Child Theology). The families of those closest to the spiritual battles are prime targets to attack. If the world sees pastors’ families in shambles, it doesn’t speak well of the faith they profess. To counter this situation, pastors must schedule time for their families and children that parishioners cannot interrupt. When kids know that their time with Dad is a priority, outweighing all else, the sense of security they attain from it is enormous.
The congregation must also be made aware that their pastor’s time with his family will make him a more effective pastor, and safeguards against incursion into family time must be strictly enforced. A combination of good parental control, coupled with sound Biblical foundation with the support of a caring church community should reduce these pressure of our dear children. We should be guided by the following:
- Don’t expect too much from your kids. “Your children need to have the same expectations as the other children in the church. They are normal like an average child.
- Offer Positive encouragement to the children. “It’s not always easy to be called a Manse baby or Pastor’s Kid (PK). The glass house thing is real. The church member must support them daily”
- Understand that they are Children. “Do not expect them to act like a 40-year-old instead of a 4-year-old.” They simply forget that the children are also like any other child.
- Don’t call them names “Their identities should not be based on their father’s vocation or profession. They have their own unique and special identities.” Names like “Osofo ba”, “Manse Boy”, “Holyco” simply upset these children.
- Support and Pray for the children. The stress of being a pastor does not come easy. More often we concentrate on other people’s children.
- Don’t push parents to make them choose. “Too many Manse children have grown up bitter and disheartened about the church. Dad gave more attention to church members than his own children.” It sometimes seems like the community and church members are asking you to choose between the job and your children.
In conclusion, the parents who are mission workers must devote time and strategy to care for that child. The community must understand the pressure from the Manse and support in their welfare and straining. The world is a hard place for Christian believers to grow up in, especially in Western societies. Materialism and all its glamour easily satisfy the senses of the carnal nature. This is all evident for ministers’ children who have perhaps been brought up with some degree of naivety because their parents would have them be spared the excesses of this life. Children naturally want to inquire into the things once forbidden by their parents. Therefore, it’s all the more crucial for pastors and their wives to spend time preparing their own children for the temptations they will face, and this can only be achieved by spending adequate time with them.