We are a special breed, us PK’s (Pastor’s Kids, in case you were wondering), but let’s be honest here— I have never, ever heard anyone say, “Man, I wish I was a PK!” We learn to live in the proverbial fishbowl, try to grow a layer of thick-ish skin, and skedaddle out of there as soon as we possibly can. Oh, maybe that’s just me. But there is something refreshing and precious about connecting with other PK’s… it makes us feel “normal” and we have this unspoken PK bond…
Enter the book, The Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper.
Even though I left home 28 years ago, I still think of myself as a bit of a PK. My dad’s still a “P” and I’m still his “K”. It was his (bold) suggestion for my three sisters and I to read this book actually, which I think is pretty cool. I jumped at the chance to read musings from the son of John Piper, partly out of curiosity (would it be a superstar PK experience or an implosion of PK pressure?), and partly hoping he would be a comfort and encouragement to struggling children of pastors, regardless of their age. I was not disappointed.
“The life of a PK is complex, occasionally messy, often frustrating, and sometimes downright maddening…But being a PK can also be a profound blessing and provide wonderful grounding for a godly life. Often the greatest challenges are the greatest grounding and the biggest falls are the best blessings” (The Pastor’s Kid, Barnabas Piper)
As a church member, have you ever really thought about your pastor’s kids? The pressure, the expectations, the fact that nobody actually asked them if they WANTED to be a PK. Some children thrive in their dad’s churches— the congregation becomes their extended family and a safe place to grow up. For others, bitterness takes root and they blame the church for taking away their daddy when they needed him most. It’s a tough balancing act, as it is for anyone parenting any kids.
“Dad and Mom might be following God’s call, but these kids are just following Dad and Mom. What choice do they have? The call of the father is not the call of the child, but the ministry of the father creates an anvil-like weight on the child” (The Pastor’s Kid, Barnabas Piper)
Piper talks about grace in the book, and it comes across loud and clear. Grace TOWARD the PK from their parents and churches, and FROM the PK toward the church, and even his or her father. I kind of wish I had thought of grace back in the day. Might have made a lot of circumstances easier to endure. How blessed we are to have a Heavenly Father who lavishes us with His grace daily!
I actually believe The Pastor’s Kid should be read by PK’s of ay age, pastors (and their wonderful wives), and while we’re at it— all church members.
PK’s: (also msissionary’s kids, elder’s kids, vicar’s kids…) You’ll want to read this, even if you don’t identify with everything Piper says. Each PK experience is unique— mine was more Welsh village church than US mega church. Even within the same household our PK journey can pan out very differently, but we need to know we are normal, and that ultimately it’s our personal relationship with Jesus that counts. Not how good/ bad/ indifferent we were at our dad’s church!
PASTORS: It’s okay— no, it’s vital— that you are father before shepherd. Be a daddy to the people under your roof, be vulnerable, be real. You only get one chance with your offspring— please don’t blow it. And pleeeese don’t use your children as sermon illustration fodder!
CHURCH MEMBERS: Want to know how best to serve your pastor’s family? Read this book and see how vitally important it is for a pastor to put his family before his congregation. Sorry folks. However, you CAN be a huge blessing to your pastor’s family. You truly can. Start by praying for them.
I am able to comfortably look back now (hindsight is glorious), and say that I’m okay with being a PK. I may not have loved it as a teen, and it took a while to put the grace into action, but I certainly have memories of some exciting times! The faithfulness of my parents will be forever forged in my memory, and they are still unwavering in their obedience to God’s call on their lives.
I hope you’ll take the time to read Piper’s book. It’ll change your outlook on your pastor’s family for sure. And to all the PK’s out there who are still under the magnifying glass… God bless you and hang in there! 🙂