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

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?

Posted on June 5, 2013

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Totally agree with the 7 things…. Hate be the devil’s advocate here but how do you handle the preacher’s kid when you see them get away with things that other children get reprimanded for?

    • Then don’t advocate for the devil. What you saw is only what you saw. I would bet all the money in my bank account that the amount of scrutiny and criticism these young pk’s get outweigh what little you witnessed by a ratio of 100 to 1. And why in God’s name are you even worried about how to handle what the pk “got away” with? THEY ARE NOT YOURS TO HANDLE! What gives you the right?! Your church is paying the pastor. It’s not a buy 1 get the rest of the family free blue light special. Are you kidding!? As in, not your business. As in, Focus On Your Own Damn Family.

      P.s. YES, already. I am a pastors kid too.

  • Jeannie Davis says on

    I don’t know if this response has been written, I didn’t have time to read through all the responses. My husband is a pastor and the one about don’t call them PK’s was so real to me. I get the same treatment as a “Pastor’s wife.” I would also add that Minister’s children also have a brain! Everyone thinks that they answer with what their parents “think” they should answer with. Our daughter studies the bible on her own and is very knowledgeable about it. She doesn’t do this because she is a “PK”, she does it because she has a love for God that I haven’t seen in a teen in a long time. She is 16.

  • Thank you for the post. As a young pastor with four daughters, this issue has presented itself from time to time. After asking questions, it seems that the dilemma in many people’s minds is bad teaching. I am afraid that pastor’s children are overly scrutinized because of wrong teaching regarding pastoral qualifications – “he must rule his house well”. This has come to mean that a child cannot be a child – ever! From my perspective many of these expectations are being placed on children who have not even made professions of faith. This then only succeeds in promoting a form of idolatry! (external spiritual do-gooders). I am thankful to be in a place of ministry where there is room for every person to make mistakes and to grow in their faith. Certainly, these sentiments are curtailed through gracious teaching and authentic living! Pastors – may The Lord grant us the grace to lead our families and God’s churches to a genuine and growing relationship with Him.

  • Michael Palmer says on

    Good word my friend! Every church needs to hear this! We will have a connection on this subject!

  • I agree that PK’s, MK’s and children whose parents are in the ministry tend to have a difficult life. I have served as a home missionary and my kids served along side of me. My daughter is now following my footsteps and she has always had a heart for missions. I believe if God calls a PK or an MK into the ministry they are equipped to do the job, regardless of the way they were raised. Some of the best Pastor’s have father’s or even Grandfather’s who were Pastors.
    As a church we should not treat the children of church staff any differently. All kids should learn to serve in the church, because they need to learn how to serve while they are young. Our church strongly believes in the youth serving in the church. It is a Blessing to see them working with our children, our sound system, and even making coffee on Sundays.

  • This is a great list. I’m a preacher’s kid and our children are, too. In college, both of our kids made connections with other preacher’s kids and enjoyed being the PKs. It seems that whether calling them PKs irritates or blesses them depends on the attitude of the user. BTW, my rule was “If I only lose one job because of my kids, that will be OK.”

  • Jane Chase says on

    How about writing one of these about expectations for the pastors’ wives?

  • Jan Proy says on

    Church people are influenced by thoughts and imaginations of spirits that are not from God it is important to teach the word in depth and spiritual warfare so they are aware it is not people but people operating in flesh not spirit God is Spirit and Truth if they knew the attributes they would not allow themselves to be used God never destroys but causes life and growth anyone not just children are targets for spirits Is 11:teaches why we fail in relationships we lack sevenfold spirits of God. The Book Strongmans His Name Whats His Game Women in Spiritual Warfare and Satans Bait are some examples of where Im coming from everything that happens destructively are opportunities to teach. Children and Adults must answer their problems with Spiritual Truth not Soul Mind Will and Emotions.

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