Seven Things Pastors Would Like Church Members to Know about Their Children

June 5, 2013

I was serving a church in St. Petersburg, Florida, when it hit me hard. One of my young children had playfully fallen on the floor in the foyer after a worship service. A deacon in the church came up to me and spoke forcefully: “You need to tell your kid to get up. Pastors’ children aren’t supposed to act that way.”

My internal emotional reaction was carnal. I’m just glad I held my tongue. I was really mad. I can still remember my thoughts: “How dare this man hold my young son to a standard different than other kids! My boy really didn’t cause any harm. He was just being playful.

I recently conducted a Twitter poll of pastors and their spouses about this very issue. Though the poll was informal and not scientific, the responses were nevertheless fascinating. Here are the top seven responses in order of frequency. A representative comment or combined comments are given with each of the seven.

  1. Don’t expect more out of pastors’ kids (PKs) than any other kids. “My children need to have the same expectations as the other children in the church. They are not some kind of spiritual superstars because their dad’s a pastor.”
  2. Please offer encouragement to my children. “It’s not always easy to be a PK. The glass house thing is real. I am so thankful for the church members who go out of their way to encourage my children.”
  3. Realize that they are kids. “I know a few church members who seem to think my kids are miniature adults. They expect them to act like a 40 year old instead of a 4 year old.”
  4. Please don’t call them “PKs.” “Their identities should not be based on their father’s vocation. They have their own unique and special identities.”
  5. Please pray for my children. “I am blessed to have this one lady in my church who prays for my three children every day. She knows the special challenges of being a PK.”
  6. Our kids see and hear more than you may think. “After one particularly tough church business meeting, my seven-year-old boy asked me if I was going to get fired.”
  7. Don’t make me choose between my kids and the church. “Too many PKs have grown up bitter and disillusioned about the church. Dad gave more attention to church members than his own children.”

What do you think about these seven challenges? What would you add? What have your experiences been?

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504 Comments

  • As a PK myself, I agree with this 100%!

  • I was a PK, EK, & part-time MK. I am now in counseling for issues with C-PTSD at age 48. I’ll say it the way the Lord said it to me a few years ago. “I don’t have a problem with institutions. What I have a problem with is religion. And ‘religion’ is when my people get their eyes off of me and put their eyes on these other things around them”. The ‘things’ referred to are the trappings of religious activity within the systems themselves. It’s not just us PK’s, EK’s and MK’s who have been overlooked, neglected or abused. It’s all of us in the pews and seats and pulpits. Those of us born into it just happen to get it earlier, more frequently, more severely and often not just by the congregation. Our parents can be the greatest proponents of religion if they are not careful.

    I forgave the church. I forgave my dad. But I am still learning to receive, I am still learning who I am and one day I will know more fully the Love of God for me. I will then be able to love myself properly and therefore others more freely and help direct the church toward the One who stands there waiting with open arms. It is not about the stuff. It’s about him and about you.

    “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees”

  • I was a PK, EK, & part-time MK. I am now in counseling for issues with C-PTSD at age 48. I’ll say it the way the Lord said it to me a few years ago. “I don’t have a problem with institutions. What I have a problem with is religion. And ‘religion’ is when my people get their eyes off of me and put their eyes on these other things around them”. The ‘things’ referred to are the trappings of religious activity. It’s not just us PK’s, EK’s and MK’s who have been overlooked, neglected or abused. It’s all of us in the pews and seats. Those of us born into it just happen to get it earlier, more frequently, more severely and often not just by the congregation. Our parents can be the greatest proponents of religion if they are not careful. And then there is the world! Any wonder some act out and go that direction to find friendships? I did.

    Here’s your answer, church.
    Love

  • Kris Baker says on

    As a PK and as a Pastor myself, I have to disagree with #4. I am, and have always been, piping proud of who my Dad is and what he does. I was always proud to be identified as a “PK”. Even now after being in ministry for nearly 30 years myself, I still identify myself as one! Just recently I was the speaker at a Youth Camp and at the end of the last service, the camp director asked all the Preacher’s kids to come forward to be prayed for. I went up and stood with them! The oldest one there! I always begin my bio with “born and raised in a Pastor’s home.”

  • Antonio Sanchez says on

    The majority of Pastor kids are spoiled brats who think because the pastor is their father they can do as they please. I’ve even have had the experience of out of ministry military PK’s (while serving) and they were the worst of the bunch out of control gone wild (especially the girls)! As a pastor if you feel the God has only called you, you’re wrong!!! He called you as a family to serve Him. Stop making excuses for your kids and yourself!!! Raise them in the Lord as you should!

    • Totally disagree with your categorical and judgmental statement. There are nearly 1,000,000 pastors’ kids in the U. S. You have not been around a majority of them. It is statements like yours that divide the body of Christ.

      • Totally disagree with Antonio Sanchez. I have been a youth worker for 27 years straight. I’ve had preacher’s children plus a bunch of other children, some from Christian Families and some not. All are the same. Preacher children are no more spoiled brats then other children. Preachers are not making excuses and they are not called as a family. Children do not have a say on what their father is called to do. I Believe it’s a couple, spouse has to be by their side – God calls them as a couple.

        Maybe if people would quit saying don’t do that you are a preacher’s kid which I hear that statement and I go for the adult who said it. Not to mention, we as adults need to set the example for ALL the children and youth. I have more conflict with adults then I ever do with the youth since the adults want to get on the youth for something they might have done which they shouldn’t have done (cell phone in church) but the same adult plays with her keys, make out bills, sign Christmas cards, mess and make noise with candy wrappers and I can keep going but I won’t. So I politely told her when she started listening and paying attention to the preacher, I would talk to the Youth (which was not her child which she didn’t even mention who had his cell phone playing a game). I actually did talk to the youth and told him to do better and be a better example, not to take after her. When to say the least they were fine which I knew he would be and yes that lady was a Christian and the kid she picked out was from a non Christian family, he wouldn’t had to come if he didn’t want to. Yeah that is a sure way to get kids and youth not to come back. And that is just one story. Maybe the adults need to grow up and quit being the brats and realize ALL kids, teens are the same and pray for them and mentor them instead of being brats ourselves and looking down on them. Pastor Kids are no different then any other kid……. AND THAT IS A FACT!!!! So get over yourself.

  • Kaitlyn Richardson says on

    I’m 15 and I have been a preacher’s kid/youth minister’s kid my who life…Another thing that makes it pretty hard is that it’s hard to get close to and talk to people…When people see me cry, they don’t offer me a hug or any comfort, they just ask if they need to get my dad, because they think he’s more qualified to give counsel than they are. Also, I get so tired of every time I go somewhere and see someone, before they even ask how I am doing, they ask where my dad is, and that really hurts. There are some people who only know me as “Adam’s daughter” or “Our preacher’s oldest” There are a lot of benefits of being a preacher’s kid, but it can hurt a lot too…

  • I agree. I spent a lot of time hating the fact that I was a pastor’s kid. My mother was constantly reminding me of it. Couldn’t play with certain kids, because if something happens, the pastor’s son always gets blamed…..OR what would people say if the pastor’s son did this or that…….she had heard all the horror stories of pastor’s kids and was so bent on keeping me from turning out that way. I also had her insecurity and rotten self esteem. I spent years resenting it, even in to my late 20s and probably early 30s. I think she was pretty surprised that I still had anything to do with her and my dad after I graduated from college, although the idea of estrangement never entered my mind. I was so sheltered I couldn’t hack the real world. I struggled with life outside of the bubble and it impacted most areas of my life. Both of them are gone now, and I have very good memories. I finally married at the age of 38. I have no kids, and it’s probably for the best, as I’m not sure how I would be raising them. Counseling would have done me a lot of good back in those days, but the grace of God is blatantly abundant, even for someone like me.

    • Wow….am still so touched by this even after re reading it.
      Am a PK too.at 19 now.
      Always trying to figure out who I am and if I an really called to this ministry. And if yes…how am I called.
      Well,I know pks can relate this situation.
      Am trying to write an article right about now citing the pleasures and pains of being a pk.
      And am glad I found this platform.
      May God guide us (psalms 32:8)as he promised .with his loving eye because its with no doubt that the evil one defiantly knows we’re the soft spots for our parents.

  • Amen. Thank you for this article. My husband was a PK and went through growing up trying to be the perfect angel. At the same time if his parents felt in the least little bit stressed that the church was not happy with them my husband was the first to blame or be the scapegoat. In the end, my husband has not lived with his parents for almost 25 years and we live an hour away, and he still fears the little old ladies that come up to him at church expecting them to say something to either tell him what he needs to do or ask him why his father made a certain decision in the church.

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