Blog Post by Jennifer McCaman
Jennifer McCaman is the wife a red headed pastor, David, and mom to Josiah, 5, and Abby, 2, and a new addition coming this August. When she’s not playing play-doh or changing diapers, she loves to freelance write and teach the Bible to the women at her church.
I am indescribably blessed to come from a strong line of faith. My parents and grandparents were zealous followers of Jesus. I had the rare parents who were the exact same at home as they appeared to everyone in our church and community. Their marriage really is that amazing. They lived at home everything they taught in public. I am unfathomably blessed to the glory of Christ.
Still, with the blessing of highly influential leader-parents comes unique challenges and opportunities for us, their children. Maybe you know what it’s like to have godly parents who are influential leaders in your church, community, or the business world. You know what it’s like to be recognized as someone’s child or grandchild rather than to be known as you. You know the pressure to protect your family name and a deep desire to measure up. You know the occasional desire to escape somewhere where no one knows who you are. You know the deep feeling of pride you have for how your parents serve the Lord.Do you come from a strong line of faith in your family? Do you feel pressured to measure up? Click To Tweet
From the child of godly leader parents, here are a few of my observations:
1. You will never measure up. You’re not supposed to.
Like other children of godly leaders, I have to fight the idea I will never measure up, that I will never have the courage and tenacity of my mother, the discipline and wisdom of my father. That I won’t accomplish half of what they have done for the gospel. When these insecurities arise, I have to turn my eyes to the cross. I remind myself that all our works are swallowed up for his glory, accomplished to the glory of his name. God’s measuring scale for spiritual success is so much different than ours. His plan for me is to make much of his name.
2. Your successes may be attributed to your parents. Let this go.
Starting my eighth-grade year, my teachers began calling out a gift of writing in me. I published my first paid piece in ninth grade. My college professor accused me of plagiarism (and later apologized) because he didn’t think 19-year-olds could write like that.
I started thinking maybe I had a call to write. Then at some event a lady made the comment “oh she writes because of her mom. Isn’t that sweet?”
I was mortified. I’d naively never considered that’s what people thought about me. So, I resolved: “I won’t write anymore because my mom is in publishing. Case closed.”
My mom encouraged me, but it was my time with God that provoked the question: “Do I want to protect my pride or follow his call on my life?”
Right now, I can name several influential leaders in the Christian world who also had godly, high-profile parents. I can’t think of where I would be in my own life if these leaders had shrunk from their callings just because their mommies and daddies were famous. Praise god they carried the torch for my generation.
People are always going to think your strong leader-parent got you that job, pulled strings for your position, wrote your ticket to success. You don’t owe the world an explanation- just god. Could it be that he placed your parent in a role for such a time as this in order to open doors for YOU to also share the gospel? Praise god his view of the story is so much bigger than ours. Don’t run from a call because it overlaps with someone else’s. That could be the whole plan from the beginning.
3. Don’t Hide in Their Shadow
It’s one thing to be proud of your parents and follow a similar call on your own life, it’s another to ride their coat tails. Maybe you’re basking in their ministry success so much, you don’t have any stories of your own to tell. Maybe you’re tempted to enjoy the fruit of their gospel labor and not allow Christ to cultivate any fruit in you. If you’re walking in the exact same footsteps as your parents, you’re not blazing a new trail for the gospel. There’s always a temptation to let other people replace your own intimacy with God. If you’re riding coattails spiritually, financially, socially, so that you can’t stand independently, ask God to renew in you a desire for Him alone and to remove these obstacles.
4. Be the godly Black Sheep.
Maybe God has placed a radically different call on your life than that of your parents. Never feel ashamed or somehow less vital to the gospel. Just because God wired you differently doesn’t mean your calling is less or you’ve let anyone down. If your parents are genuinely godly, they understand this and never want anything else but for you to love God and be obedient to his word.
5. Only god can remove the pressure of your name.
The enemy wants to make your family name a weight on your shoulders that humiliates you when you fail and taunts you when your best isn’t good enough. That’s why your strong intimate walk with God is crucial. Your family name, whether a source of pride, embarrassment, resentment, admiration or all of the above, will not carry you through this life. Only the name of Christ can do that. His name covering you is the only name that will matter in the end. It is your complete identity. His name is an easy burden and a light yoke. Your job is to represent his name and his image to the world, not your own.
A Savior to Follow
Last Sunday, my son pointed to the pastor on stage and proudly told his buddy beside him: “That’s my daddy!” My heart swelled. He is so proud of his pastor-daddy. But I know it’s likely that one day the weight of having a pastor-daddy is going to be heavy on his shoulders. He will have eyes on him, expectations, and his own calling to wrestle with.
My prayer is that God would so capture his heart and captivate him, that he would not be distracted by the criticism or admiration of others. I pray my husband and I would point him toward a God to love, not a calling to copy.
I pray that all the failures and all the successes of his parents and grandparents would present a tapestry of God’s faithfulness, that when the time comes for him to take the ministry stage (or office, or classroom, or lab, or factory, or field, or courtroom) he would not see shoes to fill, but a Savior to follow.
May the only name he reaches out to save him in this life be the all-surpassing name of Jesus. It is the only name that matters.
(aka Selma and Rodney’s daughter)