Preacher Kids

Why aren’t all preacher kids models of exemplary behavior?

Eli and Samuel served as spiritual leaders of God’s people. If they knew the answer to that question the Bible stories of their relations with their sons might read differently.

Preacher kids are always expected to be models of exemplary behavior, just like their fathers. Usually that’s not the case.  Quite often they do not follow the life example set by their parents.  Devoted men of God who chose or choose to live their life in service to God have only been exempted from the challenges of parenting, when they didn’t have any children.  Didn’t matter if they were priests, prophets, judges, or even kings.  There were no doubt many times during their child-rearing days when these devout men threw their hands up in the air in total frustration and exasperation and said to their offspring, over and repeatedly:  “Child!  What did I tell you?!!” 

[Tweet “Preacher, prophet, priest all begin with the letter “P”, same letter for “praying parents”.”]

Jewish priestBefore Israel had kings, they were governed by judges. Men of God who did their best to decide matters of justice and judgment, and guide the chosen people along the path of righteousness. But these men were not without their weaknesses and imperfections. Two of these judges were Eli and Samuel. What was their weakness? Disobedient children. Preacher, prophet, priest all begin with the letter “P”, just like the words “praying parents”.  Even though their fathers were godly examples, when the sons became adults – they proved that faithfulness is not transferred by way of the gene pool. Curly hair, green eyes and other genetic traits might be transmitted but faithfulness is an individual choice, a decision each and every person makes of their own free will.

Children of Eli – Hophni and Phinehas:

Eli’s two sons really got on God’s bad side. They were supposed to be serving the people in the Lord’s house. Instead they were serving themselves: stealing and enjoying the ladies. In a house of worship? Scandalous! Sort of sounds like the Jonestown tragedy in Guyana in 1978, except in “The End”, the men, women and children aren’t led to commit mass suicide by drinking poison kool-aid. In the Biblical account of the sons of Eli, the real evildoers, were removed; killed in a battle at Aphek. The priest, their father, knew they had not been spared because they had angered God with their deeds of hypocrisy.  He felt responsible because he knew he could have done more to restrain them from abusing their office of public trust, but he did not.

Children of Samuel – Abijah and Joel:

Samuel, like Eli, also had two sons. He raised his sons to be faithful servants but somewhere along the line they took a wrong turn. A song vibe comes to my mind whenever their story is told: “For the Love of Money”, popular tune performed by the O’jays.  By the way that song contains a misquote. The lyrics say “Money is the root of all evil”. The correct quote is: “The love of money is the root of all evil.”  Oh well! The Israelites demanded that the elderly prophet Samuel remove his corrupt sons from their official posts as priests. Samuel complied with their request. But that wasn’t enough. The people also demanded a king.  Samuel complied with this request as well. An ordinary man named Saul was chosen from among the 12 Tribes of Israel. He began his reign as a good and honorable king, however, ended it in a bad and dishonorable way by committing suicide. He fell on his own sword. But that’s another story.


Eli and Samuel were the last two men to serve as judges over Israel. Detailed accounts of their loyal service as spiritual leaders, and how they dealt with the sins of their own children are recorded in the Old Testament books of First and Second Samuel.

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Featured image credit: Jewish priest serving in the temple; Public Domain: Wikimedia Commons.
 
 
 

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