[FORWARD: The Pastor's Son by Paul Ilo (3rd Edition) -- Real life stories for everyone especially parents and minister's children]
Straw-Man. The so-called "attacking a straw man" argument is somewhat effectively used by the enemy of our collective souls. The Bible forewarns, "Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast... "(Genesis 3:1a | NASB). This straw-man deception creates the illusion that refutes an opponent's proposition. The original proposition is subtly replaced with a different proposition (i.e. "stand up a straw man") and then the deceiver defeats that false argument (i.e. "knock down a straw man").
The enemy of my soul creates the illusion that pastors and pastors' kids must be perfect. Then the serpent sets out to diminish God's blessings and ultimately the testimony of Jesus (i.e. the gospel message) by sabotaging their good name and reputation.
Adam, the first man, fits the definition of a pastor. A pastor leads followers by giving wise counsel. A test of leadership is to simply look over ones shoulder. If no one is following, then one is decidedly not a leader. Ask yourself, "Who am I following? Why?"
Have you ever wondered why Adam's wife Eve failed to follow Adam's counsel? God's counsel? Why was she ultimately deceived? The serpent created an illusion or straw-man that pivots off the three letter word 'any.' The Bible says, "And he [the serpent] said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”" (Genesis 3:1c | NASB) Of course the first man and woman could eat from any tree except one. What if God had said that they could only eat from one tree in the garden? If their lives were sustained by one tree, shouldn't they be content? Grateful? The serpent's straw-man created discontent. Synonyms of the word content include gratified, happy, pleased, and satisfied. Adam and Eve wanted more.
Ask yourself, "Why are some pastors' kids discontented? Why don't they give their all to serve and protect their father's vision? His calling?"
As a pastor's kid, Paul Ilo is giving his all not only to protect his father and their family, but he endeavors to do all he can to protect your pastor's good name and reputation. The serpent hates what Paul is doing. Actually, he cares little about Paul or his father. The serpent hates God and if he successfully defeats Paul, then he knows that he hurts God's heart. God reveals His true inner feelings at the onset of the Great Deluge (i.e. The Flood) as follows: "The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart" (Genesis 6:6 | NASB). At this time in history the Serpent converted the hearts of all the people on planet earth to follow and thus worship him, excluding eight faithful who were rescued in the Ark.
I met Paul Ilo only once, on April 8, 2014. I was pleasantly surprised a year later when he asked me to write the forward to his third edition of The Pastor's Son, an endeavor I embrace wholeheartedly. The thing about Paul that struck me most is how he shared about consistently praying openly with his family as he grew up. Prayer among family members was a daily occurrence. More than what they did, it simply reflects who they are.
Prayer. The Bible says, "... these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them ... I do not ask You to take them out of the world, BUT TO KEEP THEM FROM THE EVIL ONE" (John 17:13-15). Prayer is what best defeats the schemes of the devil.
To contrast reality, I am going to share two personal experiences with pastors' kids. The first is an epoch tragedy involving an unknown young man. The second is a success story involves a close friend who I met when singing together in a church choir in the late 90's.
First, I remember being a young man in Southern California when I received word that a pastor's son had pulled a knife on my elderly grandmother in a mid-west farming town grocery store parking lot in an attempt to steal her purse. My grandmother refused to let go of her purse. Later, the man was caught and arrested. My grandmother mastered the practice of prayer. She had to because her family farmed dry land wheat in Oklahoma's panhandle. If it didn't rain, then they didn't eat, and it's as simple as that. So they fervently prayed for rain. Why did my grandmother successfully defeat her assailant? The Bible says, "The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent" (Exodus 14:14 | NASB).
Second, I am blessed to call Mark, a preacher's kid, my friend. He is a business leader and works with many prominent organizations across the United States. Mark's father spent more than 50 years preaching and teaching in churches and seminaries. Both Mark and his dad have modeled integrity to me and have invested heavily in the good of our community.
The stories of these two pastors' kids help to prepare the reader by putting in context Paul's most noble effort that brings awareness to one of the greatest crisis plaguing churches throughout the world.
I hope your attention will be riveted, as mine has been, while reading this 'work of heart'. Going back through the pages, I've been reflecting not only on the wisdom he imparts, but even more importantly Paul's passion.
I embrace the notion that if we are to change the world, then it's essential to be the change. Paul Ilo and Mark Thomas are successful pastors' kids; moreover, their significant stories give them a platform from which to inspire great hope!
At the end of the day only God is perfect, so be careful that you don't set up a straw-man argument. Why set unrealistic expectations that pastors and pastors' kids be perfect? Only almighty God is perfect! Right?
NOTE: Paul Ilo has chosen the name "The Higher Place -- Disciples of Christ Bible Church" (i.e. thehigherplaceuk.com) as the UK's 22nd branch of the church began by Pastor Samson Ilo in Nigeria long ago.