The Unnecessary Pressures of Useless Expectations

Someone once asked me, “Why are pastors’ kids so crazy?”

I simply responded, “And the rest of humanity isn’t?” pointing out the fact there’s nothing unique about a young child or adolescent being rebellious, or experimenting, or wandering, or pushing his boundaries. It may many times not be right but it’s not unique at all.

How can something so normal to people that we expect it during that period be so surprising when an equally-human pastor’s kid goes through it? What makes that case so different?

I posed this question to another person, an older person, and he told me, “Well you’re supposed to know better.” as if “knowing” was all it took do the right thing. Didn’t Jesus say something about demons knowing about God to underscore that information isn’t enough? How many “know-it-alls” do we know who cannot execute on what they know? Quite a lot. I responded to him, “When you were younger, weren’t you taught certain things were bad and certain things were good?” He said, “Yes.” I followed this up with, “But you didn’t always do what was right and I’m sure you did a lot of the stuff you knew was wrong?” He nodded, knowing where I was going. “How can you say that someone who was informed of the do’s and don’ts, as you were, and does the wrong things anyway is any different from a pastor’s kid who also makes mistakes?”

In my opinion, the only thing different is the expectation placed on a pastor’s kid. He doesn’t come from divine stock that prevents him from making mistakes or gives special temptation fighting skills other than what’s available to everyone, which starts when we encounter Jesus. So a child who is surrounded by all the trappings of church but has not encountered Jesus in a personally meaningful way is no more enabled to live righteously than anyone else.

Just as I believe it’s wrong to expect that teenagers will automatically go nuts and be aimless, I find it illogical to expect pastors’ kids NOT to face similar challenges and NEVER fail. Proof of how common this is is how we’re so surprised when a pastors kid falls. “He did that? But he’s a pastors kid.” “He shot himself? But he’s a pastors kid.””He dropped out? But he’s a pastors kid.” I can give more examples.

To expect Michael Jordan’s kid to live up to his achievements is crazy, and physical traits are hereditary, to expect a pastors kid to live according to perfect moral standards is even crazier. Not even pastors themselves are perfect. Why are we so surprised when a pastor or his children are imperfect when we already know that humans are FAR from perfect? I’m actually more wary when a leader is too perfect – because that just means there’s something I don’t know or he’s not human.

There’s nothing really special about this. Just another case of the unnecessary pressures of useless expectations.

Another funny thing about expectations is that they’re many times accompanied with double standards. I was discussing with a few people about the idea of divorce and specific cases I believed were grounds for it, such as adultery and physical abuse, and they kept arguing back, “You can’t say that. God hates divorce. What God has united let no man break apart.” I gave them other scripture-backed points on my perspective which I won’t discuss here because that’s not the point of this section and I believe divorce is a terrible thing to undergo and deserves more explaining than merely saying its “good or bad” because there are serious consequences, but what I want to highlight is the idea of double standards, because after all the back and forth, I asked a simple question, “If your daughter’s future husband cheats on her or physically abuses her, would you, in good conscience, really tell her to continue to submit to her husband because that’s God’s will for her?”

They were silent.

It’s so easy to say “You, over there, don’t do that, you should do this!” but it’s also so common for us to face the same situation and act the opposite way when we’re in that position.

I ended that discussion by saying, “Before responding to someone else’s situation with your expectations show understanding – which means actually understanding the context and facts of the situation before pronouncing what should and shouldn’t happen. If you’re not in a position to do that or unwilling then you’re better of not adding pressure from your useless expectations that aren’t contributing to a healthy conclusion.” This is something I’ve learned the hard way by being so prone to jumping to conclusions based on my biases.

I have to prepare for a meeting and will continue this later.

I’ll share more thoughts on useless wedding expectations, useless marriage expectations, and useless leadership expectations.

About the Author

David Bonifacio Husband, Father, CEO of Bridge, Managing Director of New Leaf Ventures. #DB

Discussions from the Community.
  1. Dani says:

    “WORD!” said every kid who grew up in church (PKs and non-PKs alike). Sunday school reppin’!

    I told a friend the other day how, sometimes, I envy Christians who didn’t grow up in church. It’s all new to them and they always seem so excited. They also never had to deal with unrealistic expectations. I mean, I know that I’m not at a disadvantage having been raised in a Christian home, studied at a Christian school and “forced” into Sunday school…but it has its own hardships, just as much as it has its own privileges. The most our parents can do for us is to impart discipline and spiritual wisdom. Apart from that, our relationship with God is something we must come to on our own.

    • Thanks for reading. I don’t envy anyone who had less exposure to Christ and his teachings growing up. If following Christ is truly the greatest calling, then even just hearing about Him is a far greater privilege than not knowing Him at all, even if this comes with pressure and harshness.

      The hardship with growing up in a Christian community comes from not being able to handle social pressure. But I don’t think it’s any different from being expected to be a successful businessman if you’re in a business family, or a successful lawyer if you come from a family of lawyers, or like any other social pressure.

      The simple, but very difficult, way to conquer social pressure is to be singleminded in wanting to plead God, hold your own defined values, and daily be in pursuit of virtuous living. If you’re doing this, then the pressures others put on us are irrelevant.

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