Sunday, April 25, 2010


MK is the abbreviation for missionary kid. I grew up wholly aware of my cousins in ministry because I had my own abbreviation. "P.K." (pastor's kid). I think some of the struggles are the same, but MK's definitely have a new set of issues that they must grow up facing.

Here are some of my observations, both from my own experience, and watching as my own children adjust to their new role.

1. MK's have a tremendous amount of pressure to be "on their best behavior" for almost every second of their lives. They are on "show-case" all the time. When they act up, their behaviors are magnified in the view of the community and it is always important that they represent not only their parents, their sending agency, their supporters, but also the Christ they want so badly to share with others.

2. Everyone expects great things from MK's. They are expected to do well in school, learn the language quickly, and grow up to be a missionary, a pastor, or maybe Billy Graham. Flipping burgers at McDonald's is just not in the realm of possible expectations for MK's. Nor is being an actress, a cowboy, or an environmental scientist.

3. MK's should know more about the Bible, and find the Bible more interesting than most children their age and even most adults. They should have daily devotionals, and do weekly memorizing of scriptural passages.

4. MK's are held to the standard of the MK's that came (and went) before them. They should adore children younger than them, play well with children their age, and imitate the Mk's who are older than them. They should definitely fit into the mold that was set before them.

And here is the truth:
1. MK's are children. They misbehave at the most inappropriate times. Last week, a young woman asked Marcus for the traditional Ecuadorian kiss. He replied, "No. You are wearing lipstick on your face and will get my face all yucky." I was horrified at his rude behavior. I, like everyone else expects my child to be polite at all times and he got a strict warning about his rudeness and how it would not be tolerated.

At that moment I realized the unreasonable expectations I had for my own child. He is not a show-dog, nor can he remain perfect in every circumstance. Nor do I want him to. With every slip up comes an opportunity for me to teach him. If he holds his thoughts inside I will never have the chance to guide those thoughts, or the actions that one day will come with them.

We need to allow MK's the chance to mess up, and the chance to clean up the mess-ups. Just like every other child in the world, they will learn from their mistakes, and their growth will be stunted if they are not allowed to make those mistakes.

2. Marcus wants to grow up to be a country music singer. He is not interested in playing his guitar for church or in becoming a worship leader. He likes country music and that is what he dreams of. Weston wants to grow up and be a missionary- or maybe a comedian. Esther wants to horse-rider (still) or maybe Annie (still).

I want my children to honor God in whatever they become. Even if they flip burgers at McDonald's. I want them to be who God wants them to be, not what I dream of them becoming (and yes, I pray that one day they will be missionaries). I desire that my children fulfill the purpose in life that God sets before them, not what everyone else expects them to become.

3. My children (with the exception of one) finds the Bible to be as boring as your children do. They color during the sermon and fall asleep during scripture reading. Their prayers are selfish and self-centered. My children have probably memorized the same amount of scripture this week that you have. None. Yes, I want them to love the Bible. Yes, I desire greatly that they hide it in their hearts. I expect that you desire the same thing for your children... and for yourself.

4. My children are new at being an MK. They do not even attempt to try to squeeze into that MK role I try to smush them into. Here is a fact. The MK's that I have seen on my field (and others) are INCREDIBLE. I would be honored and thrilled to have my children grow into half the little people the other MK's are.
Here is another fact: My children are entirely different people. They ignore the babies, hit the kids their age when things get too heated, and they cry when someone hurts their feelings.
My children act the exact same way they did before they became MK's.

In the last two weeks they have not shown thoughtfulness, kindness, compassion, or helpfulness.
In the last two weeks they have been a nightmare to live with and this mama has prayed constantly that God would mold them and make their hearts to be full of compassion and kindness. I have prayed that they will be thoughtful and polite to everyone they meet.

In short, my children have twice the pressure that they had before, twice the adjustments they had before, twice the hardships, twice (or more) the expectations... as before becoming an MK and yet...

they are the same children they were before.

Will you please pray for them twice as much?
Will you pray today for every MK you know?
That God will grant them peace amidst the inner turmoil they face; that God will grant them light in the dark world they have been sent to live?
Will you pray that God will work in their hearts to root out stubbornness, pride, and rebellion?
Will you pray that they will have the courage to face the mess they create when they are rude and misbehaved?
Will you pray that God will grant their parents, mentors, and role-models the willingness to allow them to continue to be children?

Specifically will you pray:
That Marcus will have a softening of hearts towards other people. Pray that God will teach him compassion.
That Weston will have the strength to face the difficulties of life with joy instead of frustration and tears.
That Esther will face her fear of failure and try things that she knows she will not be good at.

That Dustan and Becka (their parents) will have wisdom to show God's mercy, and the strength to consistently model God's love for not just to the people of Loja, but to their own children.

Just for fun- enjoy the following link:
You know you are an MK when...


Homemomma said...

Praying for yours and my own PK's.... I hope people start looking at them like the normal kids they are and that just because their parents are in ministry that doesn't make them Super Kids...

Elizabeth Richert said...

What a great post :) Definitely insightful, even for a fellow missionary. W/o having kids, I probably wouldn't have thought about it that way. You guys are so great :) Praying for you!

Titus, Steph, Sofia, Mateo said...

you don't know us, but I followed your link from Guy Muse's blog. . .on second thought it is possible you met my husband while he was in Loja in Feb. . but anyway. . .appreciated your post on MK's, just thought you should know! We'll be in Loja for Semilla de Mostaza's inaguration in May, perhaps we'll meet then! Blessings, stephanie

Phyllis said...

I know this is an old post, but I thought I'd comment anyway. Thank you for writing this! It hits very close to home.