INTERVIEW: Why people always expect Pastors’ children to portray godly character

Pastor Isaac Abiara

Pastor Isaac Abiara is the eldest child of  the former General Evangelist of Christ Apostolic Church, Worldwide, Prophet Samuel K. Abiara. The Cleric, who is now the Senior Pastor of CAC, Texas, USA, speaks with PUNCH NEWSPAPER about his family and other interesting issues. EXCERPT !

What does fatherhood mean to you?

I think fatherhood is really the foundation of the character of a human being. A father is someone who builds the foundation of character for his children. Children learn not by what they hear but by what they see and because a father has such a great authority, when the children see that authority through their father, they learn. Whatever character their father shows, the children learn.

Research has told us that children in a house with a father and a mother tend to fare better than when they live with only their mother because the father builds the foundation of character in a child. So, a father is a builder of character.

At what point did you decide to have your biological kids?

When we got married, my wife and I had a conversation that we wanted to wait a few years before we had children. That was because we wanted to build the relationship we had with each other and we felt that we needed to mature more so that we could raise a child properly. It was three years later that we decided to have our first child.

Would you say you got married early?

I think it was about the right time. I think, sometimes, we make a mistake, saying, maybe a certain age is too early. What I’ll say generally is this: both the man and the woman have to be ready mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is possible to be physically ready but marriage is more than that. So, at what age does that (readiness) happen?  It is going to vary from one person to the other. However, it is when you are ready.

Where were you when your first child was born?

I was in the hospital. As a matter of fact, we went through the pregnancy together – the prenatal stage and hospital appointments. In the US, the father of the unborn child is allowed to witness the child’s birth. It makes you have an appreciation of childbirth and what women go through to give birth.

So, what was your first impression when you saw your first child?

I cried knowing that I had become a father. I cried because I was joyful and scared because the responsibility of fatherhood dawned on me. It is a different dimension from being single and married without a child. When the doctor pulled the baby girl out, he gave the baby to my wife and she gave the baby to me to see that I had become a father. It is a totally different experience. It still feels emotional for me, more than 15 years after.

How has fatherhood changed you?

I think it has made me more mature. All of a sudden, you are not thinking about yourself anymore. So, whatever decision I make, I have to think about how that decision affects my children. I can’t just do something without thinking it through. Fatherhood teaches you responsibility. I remember when my wife was in school, I had to babysit my first child. I had to carry her around and change diapers. We didn’t have the luxury of having a nanny, so I had to do all that (babysitting) myself. Fatherhood teaches you not to be selfish; you can’t just make a decision because, now, every decision you make affects the children. For example, we wanted to move to a new house. Before, I wouldn’t care. But because our children were in a certain school, we had to take everything into consideration, including how the decision would affect their education.

What are the major values you learnt from your father and are transferring to your children?

When we were growing up in our household, we normally had morning devotions. It wasn’t the usual devotions where everybody would kneel and pray. We did ours like a mini-service; we sang hymns and prayed before my father taught us from the Bible. It happened every day and through the teaching of the Bible, we learnt values. He showed us things in the Bible. When any of us erred the day before, he might not say anything. But the next day, something would come out of the scriptures to address the wrongdoing.

He would always tell us that if any of us went out to commit an offence, he would not be there. So, because of that, there was a boundary in my head I knew I could not cross; it was the same for my siblings. My dad still does the daily teaching today. If you go to our house, the bell still chimes at 6am. I learnt values from my father. That was why I said children learn values from their father, especially.

Mothers are very compassionate and my mother was before she passed on. I learnt the value of compassion from her but I think my dad taught me character, in terms of honesty, telling the truth, discipline and not having bad friends. Any time I crossed a little line, my dad hit me with the scriptures; of all his children, I was probably the one that got that the most. The values I learnt from my father make me a better father.

How do you discipline your kids?

I teach my kids those values but not through spanking because in the country (US) we live in, you’ve got to be careful spanking your kids. What I do is to use every moment to teach them values; every moment with my children is a moment to teach them something. But there are times I am firm with them. Sometimes, they complain that I’m lecturing them again but that’s how you instil values. You may think they don’t listen but they do.

How do you reward your children when they impress you?

I may allow them to go out or buy them certain gifts. But I make sure they understand living an honest life shouldn’t be because they want to get something. One has to be careful with that. You want them to do the right thing because they have to do the right thing and not because they are expecting something. If something (reward) comes out of what they have done, fine.

As a busy cleric, how do you spend time with your children?

I have always told people that aside from my calling as a pastor and God, the next most important people in my life are my wife and children. If there are family activities that clash with my church programmes, I will have someone else to execute the programmes while I take care of my kids. So, as busy as I am, I always find time for them. I can never be too busy for my kids because they are a direct reflection of who I am. I consider every time with my kids as memorable because, sometimes, things happen spontaneously. I cherish every moment with my kids.

Do you think any of your kids is toeing your path as a pastor?

I don’t know yet.

Have you seen any sign?

If there is anyone, it is probably my oldest daughter; she has preached in church many times. When she gave a valedictory speech at her school, people looked at her and said, ‘Abiara? Okay, it’s all in the genes.’ My son might look like the one who doesn’t really like church too much but he is part of what is known as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I don’t know if any of them will go into the ministry. I always allow God to choose their paths for them. But regardless of whatever they do, the values and character will follow them.

Do you feel a burden of expectation on you as the son of a famous cleric?

I think people want you to be like your father, especially if you are a pastor’s child. People expect you to do the right things. Sometimes, while growing up, it can put an undue expectation on you. That is why many times, you see the children of prominent people rebel because they have not been given the chance to grow up and be themselves. It is always that the expectation of their father is put on them.

When people look at their father as a man of character, they want the children to be the same. When I was growing up, I was looking at it in the negative way because I thought I couldn’t go out with my friends and play as a regular kid. But looking back at it, I think it was a good thing because it didn’t allow me to cross some boundaries. Therefore, I placed that expectation on my children. I tell my kids that because of that name, Abiara, they have got to do right and it’s not a bad thing to tell your children they have got to do and live right.

What is your thought about fitting into the shoes of your father when the time comes?

It is humbling because of what God has used him to accomplish. When I go round and see all of that, it is just humbling. That is why my approach, when I’m around, is not that of pomposity. When you look at the accomplishments, if you are not humbled by it, then something is wrong.

Do you think fitting into his shoes is a huge challenge?

Yes, it is because to have to walk that line is something I have always aspired to and I still aspire to do in my own little and quiet way. My father achieved those things by the grace of God, so nobody should try to do it without the grace of God. I don’t think about fitting into shoes but I’m just thankful for what God has used him to do.

What would you say to those who think you might underperform if you succeed your father?

I don’t think about that yet because my father is still alive and doing well. I don’t even entertain that (thought). Baba is doing his work for God and I’m doing my own work for God.


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