Russell and Duenes

A Pastor with a DMin whose Child is in Rebellion

with 6 comments

Titus 1 says that the elder in the church should have “faithful” or “believing” children, who are “not accused or charged with dissipation or rebellion.” 1 Tim. 3 says that an “overseer,” which I would take to be essentially equivalent to an elder, “must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?).”

Now I try to imagine myself, or some other man, as one who has been in pastoral ministry most of his young life. He’s earned an Master of Divinity (MDiv) or even a Doctor of Ministry (DMin), and doesn’t have a lot of other job qualifications. He’s even seen a good amount of “fruit” in the church he pastors or serves as an elder. And this man’s children reject Christ and rebel against his authority. They are clearly not believers by any outward manifestation.

Now, the Bible says that such a man should not be an elder, overseer, or pastor (for I can’t see any biblical argument for pastors to be excluded from the above Scriptures while elders and overseers aren’t. I’m not even sure that a pastor and an overseer could be distinguished biblically.). He’s disqualified. I take that to mean that whether the church asks him to step down or not, he should step down. But he’s highly invested. His whole “career” has been the pastorate. He’s not qualified for other jobs. Should he still step down? My experience tells me that churches say “no.”

We’ve come up with all sorts of ways of allowing pastors and elders to stay in place while their children are in obvious rebellion. Perhaps we tell ourselves that it’s not affecting the pastor or his ministry, and the pastor is doing all he can. It’s not his fault that his child is an unbeliever. That child is making his or her own decisions, and it shouldn’t derail the pastor’s entire career and livelihood, after all.

Now of course I’m not suggesting that churches put such men out on their ears. If these men cannot easily transition to another job, then the church should find a way to support and help men through such a time. But to even contemplate this seems laughable to us. We have so professionalized and “career-ized” the pastorate and “full-time ministry,” or whatever, that it becomes virtually unthinkable to ask a pastor to step down due to faithless children. If a pastor fails to sufficiently “grow the church,” we might ask him to step down, but there’s no biblical requirement that a pastor “grow the church.” We might replace him for giving boring sermons that we “get nothing out of,” but again, there’s no requirement that he preach “powerful,” interesting or entertaining sermons. We’d let a pastor go for evident adultery or embezzlement or some such high moral crime, and we’d be right to do so. But my guess is that most pastors aren’t involved in these kinds of moral failings, but I bet there’s a fair number who have unbelieving and rebellious children. How else would we come up with the infamous “PK” (Pastor’s Kid) that we just assume to be a “bad” child? I’ve never understood this. We somehow have an understanding that “PK’s” are going to be rebellious, when Scripture says it should be just the opposite.

I’ve thought about this from time to time over the years as I’ve observed pastors staying in the pastorate with rebellious, undignified and unbelieving children, and thought I’d put it out here for your consideration.



Written by Michael Duenes

June 4, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Posted in Duenes, Theology

6 Responses

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  1. Most pastors are already doing different jobs that Paul never contemplated, administering large Christian clubs essentially, so applying this verse already requires a stretch of the imagination.


    June 5, 2010 at 7:50 am

    • Andy – Whatever you conceive of pastors to be doing these days, they are pastors and elders nonetheless. And I would argue that one of the very big reasons why pastors and elders are “administering large Christian clubs” and other irrelevant things is because they have been allowed to remain in the these offices when they are clearly disqualified by biblical instructions. And this has been happening for decades, and thus, has now had time to work its way through God’s people like a virus.



      June 5, 2010 at 12:51 pm

  2. 1Ti 3:10 And let these also first be tested, then let them minister without reproach. This is what should be looked at before they become a pastor. The problems comes when one church may think the pastor, meets these requirements, the next one he goes to does not agree. Apt at teaching, for example, one group may think you’re a great teacher, the next group thinks your awful. We all have sin. How much does the pastor’s kids have to do before he gets fired? Who in the church is going to keep score? The church is running kids off at a rate of about 80 percent. The pastor may have been doing a great job with his kids until the church got a hold of them. Is this while they are at home or is it for the rest of the kids life?


    January 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm

  3. Let’s not shoot the wounded. As a deacon/preacher the enemy, Satan beats me up enough.

    Bro. Wayne

    May 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    • Thanks, Wayne. Perhaps I was a bit heavy-handed in the way I laid out this post. However, are we to simply ignore the Scriptures that speak about what a pastor or elder is to do when he has a rebellious child? How would you handle the texts I’ve dealt with? Surely it is not enough to simply say, “Let’s not shoot the wounded.” Engage with what I’ve said. Provide some kind of alternative explanation that you think better conveys the mind of Christ. How do you read and apply the text?


      russell and duenes

      May 31, 2012 at 7:35 pm

  4. […] a post I wrote a bit over two years ago, I said: “Titus 1 says that the elder in the church should […]

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