Children of leaders are often smack in the center of Satan’s bullseye, next to their parents. Their innocence and vulnerability are quite appealing to the enemy of their souls. I believe when Satan can’t achieve his desired inroads into a leader’s life, he turns to their family. Sadly, we leaders are so distracted by busyness and fatigue sometimes, we don’t see what Satan is doing to our children, right under our noses.
My grandfather, a Baptist preacher, raised four children, together with my grandmother. Two, including my mother, served the Lord all their lives. The other two, my aunt and uncle, turned their backs on their faith and spent most of their time on earth living as people of the world. What happened?
When Ken and I were in full time ministry during our daughter’s childhood, demons tormented her regularly. Ken and I never knew this until we moved away. We temporarily lived in a mobile home, after leaving ministry, where her bedroom faced the street. We felt concern for her, moving from a quiet country life into a noisy trailer park with lots of comings and goings at all hours.
Instead, to our amazement, her first night there she said she went to sleep, unafraid, for the first time in many years. She then proceeded to tell us about the frightening faces that regularly appeared at her bedroom windows at our former house. Stories of hearing voices in our former backyard and seeing strange creatures in the fields around the house broke our hearts. We realized that what we brushed off as normal childhood fears were demonic attacks on our child. How could we not see this?
I could tell you more stories of colleagues in leadership whose children overdosed on drugs, ran away from home and, in general, rejected their parent’s faith entirely. These sorts of scenarios don’t happen overnight. Why couldn’t parents see what was happening in their own home? I think the answer to all these “what happened” scenarios is that Satan is cunning and subtle.
Let’s look at my aunt and uncle again. After numerous conversations with various family members, including them, a picture formed of two kids who didn’t fit into the rigid mold of what preacher’s children were supposed to look like back in the 1940’s and 50’s. Both my aunt and uncle possessed creative, free spirits. Church members missed no opportunity to criticize their behavior, dress and activities. In some churches today, ministry kids are still exposed to the same kind of scrutiny.
I don’t think my grandparents recognized the bitterness growing in two of their children’s hearts until it was too late. My grandparent’s days were packed with all the demands of an active church, just like Ken and I so many years later. Our Jennifer is such a sweet little rule follower, Satan knew that he couldn’t demolish her the way he did my aunt and uncle, so he took a completely different tact. We completely mis-read her fears and dropped that ball entirely.
In the same way, other leadership parents we’ve known, captains of industry, missionaries, pastors, and such, missed subtle yet effective attacks launched against their children. Here’s my suggestions of ways you can recognize when your children are under direct attack and what you can do to protect them.
Cover your family, house and property, every day, with the blood of Jesus. This is not heebie jeebie silliness. Jack Hayford explains it well in his book “Pleading the Blood.”
“Pleadingthe blood of Jesus is not the superstitious application of a magic formula of words. Rather, a spiritual dynamicis being applied. The power of the blood of Jesus Christ is greater than both the energy of our own humanity and that of our Adversary. The power that savesis also the power that releases, delivers, and neutralizes the enterprises of hell and the weaknesses of the flesh.” Although Ken and I daily covered our home, it never once occurred to us to pray over our yard and surrounding property.
Take note of behavioral changes. Our sweet girl didn’t start out fearful, she became that way after some scary encounters. Suddenly never wanting to play outside alone or go to bed at night indicated a major shift for her. I’m told my aunt and uncle enjoyed happy childhoods until they started to notice all the criticism being lobbed at them. Two sunny children became mouthy, disrespectful adolescents. I think my grandparents attributed this to normal teenage stuff, which might have been part of it, but certainly wasn’t all of it.
Make time for quality conversations. I wished we had asked our girl what she really thought of our ministry life, home etc. We would have learned things sooner rather than later. Ask your children key questions like, “Do you like living in this house?” or “How do you feel about mommy/daddy’s job?” A great question to ask is, “If you could change anything about our lives, what would it be?” Be prepared for some surprising answers.
Use available resources. In our church, at the end of every service, our elders and pastors are available for prayer. If your church doesn’t do this, make an appointment. If your child’s negative behavior has progressed beyond conversation and prayer, please, seek some Christian counseling. Heartbroken, rebellious children of leaders can get involved in addictive, dangerous behavior.
If you are a leader, your children are targets. Ask God to show you anything you’ve been missing. He will give you wisdom, discernment and faith to know what to do.