In 2002, My dad became a pastor, thus thrusting my sister and me into the unique perspective of being Pastor’s Kids or PK’s for short. I was 9 years old at the time. There wasn’t a drastic change because our dad was always in ministry, at least throughout my formative years. However, being a PK gives you a front-row seat to things that many people don’t see nor experience.
This work is a peek into the thoughts of one who’s lived and continues to live as a PK. This will probably be one of my most transparent pieces, where I’ll dive into the joys, frustrations, identity, perceptions, assumptions, and expectations of the PK. My experience as a PK is not the standard and isn’t the only point-of-view on the matter. Still, I believe there are some rather significant overlaps among those who’ve experienced the life of a PK.
For my fellow PKs, my hope and prayer that you can relate to some of the things written here and can learn from some of the lessons I’ve learned. You’re not alone in the thoughts of feeling misunderstood by your peers and the unreal expectations placed upon you.
For those who don’t know what it’s like to be a PK, my hope and prayer are that this will give you some understanding and appreciation of a PK’s realities.
To ministers, pastors, and aspiring pastor’s, take these words as an encouragement and a warning to the gravity of the decisions you make and how they affect your family, especially your children. Remember, the Church is Christ’s bride and not yours. You’re just a steward or manager of a portion of the flock, so don’t neglect your family’s needs.
Let’s get it.
Being a PK, ministry becomes your life, even if you ask for it or not. I have had the privilege of seeing a church being built from the ground up. The church started in my parent’s basement, so being late to church was kind of impossible. Foundational Christianity was quite literal for us. Setup and tear down were a way of life, and you enjoyed it because that was just how life was.
However, always being around, you’re privy to the inner workings and turmoil within the church. Church politics are a very real existence. Within the church is a unique problem. On the one hand, you see the best in humanity expressed through unity in a community of believers. On the other hand, you see humanity’s depravity through lack of commitment, betrayal, and other problems.
Because of the ever-present paradox, I became naturally cautious of people. I’m introverted by nature; being attentive isn’t anything new, but it becomes a defense mechanism with added fuel. I think for a lot of PKs, we become rather adept at reading people. Observation is a great skill that has helped me know who to trust through their actions and not just by what they say. Words hold more power when it’s reflected in one’s life.
People are always watching. Attention from people isn’t something most PKs lack. It feels like every choice or decision you make is under heavier scrutiny than others, especially other kids. I loathe double standards. I have no problem with expectations when clearly defined, but vague ones are easily misinterpreted. When someone expects someone else to be better and don’t hold themselves to the same, that’s a double standard. A personal motto that I live by is:
Like anyone, I’ve contradicted myself and participated in such hypocrisy, and that’s why we need to confess and ask for forgiveness. I can understand why so many people are turned off from Christianity because some congregations cultivate self-righteousness, which is distasteful. You never sacrifice truth, but grace has to be dispensed as well.
Service becomes a lifestyle. My parents, sis, and I may have cumulatively lived as a nuclear family in our house for 3 years. Someone from our extended family pretty much always lived with us. You see, service lived out in your life on a day-to-day basis. I’m the most tunnel vision of the fam, no contest. They would wholeheartedly agree and would proceed to tell numerous stories of my ignorant selfishness.
Pretty much since the age of 12, I would be told to cook dinner for the house if my dad was working overtime at work since he was bi-vocational. For my mom, service is second nature; she’s always looking out for others’ benefit. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen nature where motives and intent are still in question because deceit and manipulation are real problems, so observation and discernment are needed.
Nothing hurts more than watching people take your family for granted. Outside looking in, some people believe you have this perfect family that doesn’t have any issues or problems. I would express my frustrations with statements like “did you not listen to the sermons where I was the example on something crazy I did.”