Seven Things We Learned from Pastors’ Kids

It was not the response to a blog post I expected. Back in June of 2013, I wrote a post speaking on behalf of pastors for their kids. I summarized seven major things pastors wanted you to know about their children. The article had a big response when it was first posted. But, for reasons I have not completely fathomed, the post went viral a few weeks ago. Now almost 200,000 views and hundreds of comments later, we can see a pretty clear picture.

You see, the majority of those who responded were pastors’ kids. So, instead of hearing from pastors about their children, we heard directly from the children themselves. Some were teenagers still living with their parents. Others were adults who grew up as PKs. All of them had pretty strong opinions.

As I read again through the plethora of comments, I developed seven major themes from these PKs. Not all of their comments were negative, but a majority did communicate some level of pain. Here is what they said:

  1. The glass house is a reality. People are always looking at the PKs. They have trouble saying or doing anything without someone, usually a church member, making a comment. Most of these PKs (and former PKs) felt a great deal of discomfort living in the glass house. Some even expressed bitterness.
  2. Some church members made a positive and lasting impression on PKs. One of the more frequent positive comments we heard were about the church members who loved and cared for the PKs. Many of them took the children under the wings and made a positive difference in their lives.
  3. Some church members were jerks to the PKs. Many of the stories are heartbreaking. It is really hard to imagine some of the awful words that were said to the PKs. Some still feel the sting of those words decades later.
  4. Many PKs resent the interrupted meals and vacations. They felt like their pastor parent put the church before the family. One PK, now an adult, lamented that every vacation his family took was interrupted; and many times the vacation was truncated.
  5. Some of the PKs have very positive memories when their parents included them in the ministry. I read comments about hospital visits, nursing home visits, and ministry in the community. These PKs absolutely loved doing ministry with mom and dad. They felt like the church ministry was something the whole family did.
  6. A key cry from the PKs was: “Let me be a regular kid.” A number of the PKs expressed pain from the high expectations placed upon them by both their parents and church members. Others said that some church members expected them to behave badly because that’s just what PKs do.
  7. Some PKs left the church for good because of their negative experiences. They viewed local congregations as a place for judgmental Christians who are the worst of hypocrites. They have no desire ever to return. You can feel the resentment and pain in their comments. Their hurt is palpable.

On the one hand, I feel badly for the opening of wounds that blog post caused. On the other hand, I am grateful for the forum it allowed for many of the PKs to express themselves.

If you are a PK, do you identify with these comments? How do the rest of you react to their hopes and hurts?


photo credit: Joe Thorn via photopin cc

Posted on January 8, 2014

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165 Comments

  • Brian Gass says on

    What I love most about our church is the way they love my children. I see Jesus’ statement to “Allow the children to come unto me” lived out by our folks not only for my kids but all the children in the community. The importance the church places on me being a dad to my kids first is palpable… and for that I will be forever grateful. My children all love not only our church but “the Church” as a result of this grace exhibited. If only this could be the norm for pastors and their families. That’s my heart cry for God’s people.

  • David Moore says on

    Shame, shame,shame on pastors who allow a family vacation to be ended early due to a “crisis” in the life of a church member. What an awful witness about two things: 1) the importance of family, and 2) allowing an over-inflated view of the importance of the pastor. Folks can function, even in the midst of crisis, without the pastor. Church members can step in, and the Spirit of God is more than able. When on vacation, I have a neighboring pastor on call for me and let church members know I will not return until my vacation is over. I will call a church member in crisis while I am on vacation, but I will not sacrifice my family to the job by returning home early. It is amazing when folks know this upfront how few crises arise when I am away. Somehow, they manage without me!

    • As a pastor’s wife and daughter {and granddaughter and great-granddaughter} I feel as though a word of defense is in order for the pastor who has cut his vacation short due to an emergency in his congregation. It is not always so cut and dry as to say he doesn’t value his family and has an over-inflated view of himself. Sometimes, it’s the appropriate sacrifice. And sometimes, it’s the very best example of loving others we could ever give to our children. {Not every time … but sometimes.}

      Yes, we had vacations cut short – a Christmas vacation while I was in high school is the one that stands out the most to me. And yet, I don’t remember feeling as though my dad didn’t love us as much as he loved the congregation he served … I remember trying to find someplace to eat as we made the nine-hour drive from Alabama to Oklahoma in the mid-1980s. I remember that we laughed and sang in the car … and, were I to make a list of my best Christmas memories, that year would definitely be in the top 3. My dad missed things I did growing up. His dad missed things he did when he was a child. But here I sit, a fourth-generation pastor’s wife and my husband was already in full time ministry when we met.

      I guess my point is this, if anyone should understand how hard the choices are – especially for “solo” pastors in small churches outside the Bible belt – it ought to be fellow ministers and their families. If we can’t support and encourage one another, well, I guess we really are not any better than those people in our congregations who judge our kids and make them want to leave the church forever.

      • Teri
        I so agree! Growing up as a pk vacations sometimes got cut short but my brother and I knew our Dad loved us. We also knew what his job was. We got to be a witness to the church showing unconditional love and support and even acceptance by our actions. You help those in need. You should have a servant’s heart. Take a lot to be a pk or pastor’s wife. Not all can handle it.

      • Teri
        I so agree! Growing up as a pk vacations sometimes got cut short but my brother and I knew our Dad loved us. We also knew what his job was. We got to be a witness to the church showing unconditional love and support and even acceptance by our actions. You help those in need. You should have a servant’s heart. Take a lot to be a pk or pastor’s wife. Not all can handle it.

    • Teri is correct. I remember vacations cut short only twice as I was growing up. One was for the family of a mother who committed suicide and the other was for loss of a teenager. I completely understood the priority for my father, whose calling was to minister to the needs of others. It never meant he loved us less, nor did it mean he had an ego. I’m disappointed to read such an interpretation. As a 62 year old who has observed many pastors over the years, I agree with my dad who once concluded that ministry changed from a “calling” to a “job.” If it’s a job, of course you don’t interrupt a well-deserved vacation. If it’s a calling, you know you are doing the Lord’s work. As a PK, that was very clear to me, even as a young girl.

  • I grew up as a PK and never had my dad around. My husband is a pastor and our PKs are getting ready to all be in college. I’m thankful that my husband always put us first with his time and energy. All of our children are in ministry and love serving even though they’ve seen some pain.

    We recently had an experience where something was taken out of context that our teen said. Things got pretty bad for us because it was nothing compared to how others in our church treat each other. We soon realized that it’s not PKs or their families that are treated this way by doing wrong, but anyone with moral standards. Just look at what the Robertsons are going through right now.

    I know my children wouldn’t change growing up as PKs and that is all attributed to their dad who has made them his number one ministry.

  • Carherine Stewart says on

    Thom, I recently had a book published by P and R for pastor’s wives. There is a great chapter in it on pastor’s children. I have received feedback on this particular chapter; the children of ministry families fully identify with the sentiments expressed in it and indeed our own daughter was thrilled to finally have something in written format speaking directly to her situation. Sarah Ascol, the daughter of Tom Ascol wrote it. I know it has proved beneficial
    to many people.

    • shannon Beier says on

      Thanks for this list It gives me some things to pray about. I am a PK and now a pastor’s wife in Chicago. It was hard at times but overall I’m thankful for the life of ministry my parents gave me. They talked to me A LOT about the glass house, other’s expectations etc. I learned that I just had to follow God and that I could ask questions and obey God. That gave me so much freedom to experience God’s grace as others looked on. My Dad worked very hard to block out time for us and not to let vacations be interrupted. I’m grateful for that!

  • Bro. Rainer,

    I enjoyed both articles. My wife and I have five children, we sat down and discussed this issue. They each expressed that even when I was home, I wasn’t always “home”. Hearing that broke my heart. We now have a rule that every Monday all electronics are off or put away. My assistant pastor handles business now on Mondays. Because of this revelation and change, my family and I both are closer and happier. Thank you for writing both articles!

    ~ Johnny

    Dr. Johnny Nixon, Pastor
    First Love Baptist Church
    Doerun GA 31744
    (229) 782-5262
    Bornthatway.org
    Drnixon.blog.com

  • Sarah Doll says on

    Growing up #4 was the hardest for me. I can remember wondering why my dad was gone all the time while my friend’s dads were home. As I grew into teenage years, dad totally incorporated #5 for my life. I could go to FAITH with dad on Monday nights and spend time with him there, plus was training in evangelism. He would always give me little responsibilities here and there to make me feel important. Also, since my parents always took two cars to church I always got to ride home from church with dad on Sunday mornings, which was special because I had my dad all to myself. I would follow him around after the church service carrying his Bible (which as a child I thought it was sacred because it was the Bible he taught from) and then would get to ride home with him.
    When I went to college I felt somewhat lost because I had never “chose” what church I wanted to attend before. I wasn’t really sure what to look for, and once I found a church I was completely lost because I felt like everyone should know who I am. As a pastors kid there are definitely some perks, when I got married I got more gifts than I ever could have imagined, simply because people knew and loved my father.

    • PK of a born-again believer here. Please pray for me. I’ve been slammed with doubt about some things I’ve believed my whole life, including my salvation, since turning away from masturbation. Please, I never thought I could think these thoughts against God,. I’ve been asking him to talk to me, but maybe there really is doubt in my heart that I haven’t truly been saved? I just know I need him. Please pray. 🙂

      • Timothy says on

        Father, I pray for my brother John. Let him believe in your love and grace. Help him to turn from sin and give him strength. May he have relationships with other Christians whom he can trust, and who will build him up and love him well. May he not live by fear of temptation, man, or the world, but instead with a knowledge that he is your son. May he know that you give him righteousness. There is nothing he can do to earn it.

      • Hi, friend. I am a pastor and a father 4, 2boys 18 and 16; 2girls 21 and 13. I am a pastor and a counselor. I am aware of your situation and can say to you to consider that sometimes, your human mind joins an unholy ally with the devil to torment you until you totally give up the faith. But, I have good news for you. The fact that you have guilt in your heart about your sin is a clear indication that your heart is right with God. Read about Apostle Paul’s trouble in Romans 7:14-23. He struggled with the inner “sinful man” called the “Adamic nature” until he gained his freedom at sanctification. He later testified in chapter 8, how he overcame. read the account yourself and that can be your experience too. Note and reflect on the following statements deeply:
        1. Your sin was against God – Confess and forsake it and God will forgive you
        2. Your sin can be partly against someone – If you know him or her walk and ask for pardon (that is called restitution)
        3. Your sin is mostly against yourself – Here is the main problem. It is a lot easier for God and men to forgive you than it is for you to forgive yourself.
        I will say therefore, that: You seriously need SELF FORGIVENESS. Be free today from the accuser of the brethren – Satan. He has come to steal, kill and to destroy. As people all over the world pray for you, if you fail to FORGIVE YOURSELF, our prayer will be a nullity. Remember GOD TRULY LOVES YOU! Shalom.

  • I love both these posts. My family relates very well – my children are the super’s kids (school superintendent). Pastor’s wives have been good friends since we can commiserate as times. Our children have always lived in the glass house and they know it very well. Also, I have a very dear friend that I met the first day we moved to our community and she is the #7 kid. It breaks my heart, and probably her parents as well. But the Lord can still do the miracle of breaking bitterness.

    Thank you so much for bringing this to your blog. I was able to share the Pastor’s Kids blog on my Facebook page. Since I am not a pastor, I think it means more for us that are not in the pastorate to point out to our friends that we should never be a part of turning any child “off” from the church. What a horrible legacy to make for yourself.

  • David Highfield says on

    As my sons were growing up, we lived in church parsonages, but none of those homes were next door to the church building. This gave my sons the advantage of having “real” neighbors and lessened the glass house effect. Regarding interruptions, I rarely answered the phone during family meal times, instead letting an answering device take a message. Of course this was before the days of cell phones which I imagine some pastors take to the dining table with them. By the grace of God, both of my sons are active Christians – one is in full time campus ministry and the other married a preacher!

  • All of your findings ring true for me as a PK, though my experience was mostly positive. One of the things I didn’t like was having to be there “every time the doors were open.” But I loved church and still do.

  • I can shout a big AMEN to every one of these. I have not gone as far as #7, but can’t say those thoughts haven’t crossed my mind at one time or another. Unfortunately, the PK sees the good, the bad, and the ugly. Despite my parents trying to shield me from a lot, you can’t help but know when things are going on… often those things are said and done right in front of you. I remember an immense pressure during high school to be the perfect kid because I knew any screw-up could mean my dad’s job. My parents never put that burden on me… it’s just something you knew was a reality. Anyone that has never lived it cannot imagine the stress.

    • Kat Larson says on

      I couldn’t agree more!!!
      Feels like the world expects you to be perfect and yet they are waiting for you to mess up

    • I also grew up as a PK. A pastor friend of ours had a daughter who became pregnant, and he was kicked out of the pastor’s position as a result. To my knowledge, he was never a pastor again. My personal experience wasn’t quite as bad as some have related, but bad enough. Everyone was always watching for you to mess up, and then making the usual comments which essentially boiled down to “preacher’s kids are the worst kids”. It wasn’t all bad, however. The churches in which my father was pastor were poor, and could not afford to pay much of a salary. Dad always had a regular job, often two of them, to keep the ends at least close together. As a result, he and mom relied heavily on the power of prayer to meet needs that arose. I recall numerous occasions where God’s faithfulness was demonstrated. one very notable occasion was over a particularly poor Christmas season for us. My parents never told anyone that we were in need, just our Heavenly Father. A day or two before Christmas a truck pulls into our driveway, absolutely loaded with food and assorted gifts. There were other similar instances of God’s provision, as well. So I guess I could say that while I certainly saw the negative side of being a PK, I also had the opportunities growing up to see God’s faithfulness to his faithful in action.

  • I grew up as a PK, and my dad was and still is a music minister at a southern baptist church. I am now a youth pastor and in my 4th year of ministry. My brothers are all involved in their churches and are even worship leaders. That being said the biggest struggle for many PK’s is that their family is never protected. I remember that Dad came to the church in a time of turmoil for the church, but we have seen it grow. What made the difference is that we saw our parents in love with Jesus, with each other, and with us. They taught us how to sacrifice for the church by including us in the ministry. My father gave us security by staying committed at the same church for many years and not jumping so frequently. My brothers and I all had our time of rebellion and running from the will of God, but the foundations of our youth have followed us into adulthood. All seven points echo loudly to me as a PK, and it seems that only other PK’s get it. I would encourage all pastors to set the tone for the family in your congregation by protecting yours. I have a daughter and another on the way. They come before my ministry because it is the home that qualifies me tot he ministry. In other words my children are to be my first disciples.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Excellent counsel Jason. Thank you.

      • I was a pk for years, and it was traumatizing, my parents always got mistreated by low life individuals and people who are just damaged… my dad wasn’t around that much, and yes ministry always came first… people would often stare at me during the service or watch my every move, and we lived in a fish bowl !! People always just stopped bye without notice and it was annoying! !! it was creepy, and the way some people would talk to me and my family was just downright cruel… I don’t like the christian lifestyle either.. I’ve sat through enough church services to last a lifetime. .. and i have anxiety because of bad memories from the past…I’m done

      • Jerry Walker says on

        Libby,

        I feel for you, too, as I have responded to others as well. Believe me, I know how you feel! I was THERE. People think they OWN you. You’re supposed to jump every time they say so! HA! One time, when my folks had already left to another pastorate, I remained behind to finish high school. I only had 6 months to go, and I didn’t want to go to a strange school. One of these “board of deacons” types who thought we HAD to do anything they said, told a friend of mine, “HARUMPH, I really think its best that the kid move right along with his parents”.

        By age 18, by now fed up with the PK life, AND full of resentment against those who had mistreated us, I sent this old man a message:

        “You tell Old Man Jones(not real name), that I said that if he has enough **** (you can guess the word) on him, he can come MOVE ME! 🙁 I’ll stomp that fat, greasy lard belly of his into the ground! I’ll stay here as long as I want to!!!”
        I was told that when the message was delivered, he was welding up a truck body, and the old buzzard, hearing this would-be threat, dropped his mask down & struck an arc right in the face of the messenger! Last my buddy heard, he was still clearing his throat loudly (fear?) “AAAAAA-HEM, AAAAAAAAAA-HEM, ARRRRRRGHH! AAAAAA-HEM!” 🙂 🙂 🙂 That was the last I heard of him! LOL!

        In closing, that was a very bad, ugly, unprofessional reaction, not to mention un-Christlike. But it represents an accurate picture of the pent-up resentment, heretofore unaddressed, of preachers’ children who had no outlet for their frustration and outright anger they feel. And at that time, as a recent “graduate” of the *glass house*, I would have crawled all over any one who tried that control junk again!

      • James Elias says on

        Those comments were vindictive IMO…Christ Jesus even said its not an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth…bless those that curse you. These children or PK’s are the HYPOCRITS. The Apostle Steven didnt curse them when he was stoned to death…and neither should these PK’s when things arent going right or their way.

      • Jerry Walker says on

        Those comments were vindictive IMO…Christ Jesus even said its not an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth…bless those that curse you. These children or PK’s are the HYPOCRITS. The Apostle Steven didnt curse them when he was stoned to death…and neither should these PK’s when things arent going right or their way. (quote)

        Tell me something. Did YOU ever live in that “glass house”? Did you ever watch so-called “deacons” turn on the pastor and threaten not only him, but his family? Do you know what hypocrisy IS when these self-righteous, Bible-spouting “deacons” (and their friends) present themselves as oh-so pious, oh so unreproachable “saints” of God, only to have them become as hissing snakes, ready to strike. Everything is wonderful for the first few months–the period I call the “honeymoon” period. AT this time, the pastor is the greatest preacher that ever spoke. After that, LOOK OUT. Did you ever watch your Dad being threatened with bodily harm by sniveling little cowards that couldn’t handle a stocky preacher boy from the farm if their lives depended on it? Did YOU ever watch these little “power cliques” conspire to get rid of the pastor? Where did these little “deacons”, standing on the steps of their piety temple (which is themselves) get the idea that it is their place to ask the pastor to resign: they didn’t hire him–the CHURCH did. Did you ever sit in a Royal Ambassador meeting and be suddenly pushed down in your chair and be told to sit down and shut up? And the reason the boy was humiliated in this way was not because he was misbehaving *(he had his hand up trying to be recongnized)*. It was because the RA leader was also a part of that power clique and was mad at the pastor. Tell me, did YOU live that? Try telling a 14 y/o boy that after realizing what was happening at the church, after being shunned and called names by his former friends, after watching a contentious church conference where people who NEVER went to church (but suddenly showed up that Sunday at the behest of the lies and tales told about the pastor) and where your Dad was just voted OUT without a dime, told to vacate the parsonage posthaste. And, worse, some of these “deacons” slunk around with crocodile smiles (really they were smiles of their devilish “victory”), and had the gall to come around while we were packing to go and tell us how “sorry” they were this happened. And if they, or YOU, think that, even then, even *I*, a young boy, did not know their treachery for what it was, they went to their graves beguiled by their own naivete! It is an affliction which which too many people–even Christians–are afflicted. And you believe a 12-13-14 y/o can reconcile their developing emotions with adult rationale, it is YOU, also, who is fooled. OR, you don’t know what you are talking about! I am telling you what happened to ME as a preacher’s kid, and as bluntly and accurately I can. How DARE you call children, thrust into circumstances beyond their control, forced to move 6-9-11 times, deprived of lasting friends, made to attend multiple schools during their most critical development years hypocrites.

        So what if these kids simple keep their mouths shut, endure their ordeal, grow up with trauma that lasts for years? While you trivialize their trauma with scriptural, opinionated (and wrong) assumptions, what are the affects of these things that happen to children of pastors? The very lifestyle itself causes real emotional harm, developmental difficulties–especially to an only child–and lasting personality changes. Seeing people who continually spout Scripture on Sunday, supposedly leaders in the church, then show that they aren’t really the bulwarks they pretend to be. Remember: we are dealing with *children* who are right in the middle of developing their own interactions with people. It can breed a deep mistrust for people, personality disorders, problems with developing relations with wives–even their own future children.

        There is far more to this issue than can be discussed here, and there are deep, deep wounds suffered by PK’s all over. But your self-righteous, opinionated comments, based on fantasy, not experience, speak for themselves. Bluntly, you do not know what you are talking about. *WE*, these PK’s, LIVED it. Don’t call US, the victims, “hypocrites” (and I did spell it right), and glorify the actions of churches and their internal power cliques by calling us names. As to MY comments, I am not going to candy-coat the truth.

        Today, I am a regular member of a Christ-centered church for the last 30 years where I serve as part-time organist. Because of the pain I suffered at the hands of so-called Christians, it took nearly 10 years to get me BACK into a Baptist church–or any other for that matter. Don’t tell ME about how a kid should deal with pain!

      • Same I feel like I have to be a leader and always do the right thing I never do what I dream I hate this life as a pk it f-ing sucks

      • Alejandra Gomez - Toledo says on

        To the person saying those comments are vindictive: he was a teenage boy. I think he deserves much more grace and compassion, and much less judgement. Although I am assuming this man is an adult now, it is not okay to be judging the character of a child or teenager. I sincerely hope you can think of a time that someone offered you grace or you wished someone had offered you grace and try to see this situation from Jerry’s perspective. Also I hope that you do not take this post as a judgement against you, but more of a loving confrontation. God knows I need loving confrontations from others so things can be revealed to me that I otherwise would not have seen.

      • Count me out also. My parents put so much pressure on me to be the perfect example of a Christian. How could they lead people if they themselves didn’t have it together. So fake being perfect. Put on a smile no matter what!!!! If you are mistreated or hurt smile anyway. I learned church was all fake. Fortunately I kept the God my father but you could not get me back in church for anything!!! Count me out

      • Its sad how Pastors kids are treated but its also a BIG blessing. Me being a Pianoist since i was little, i felt like my dad pushed me to the side and let them play. I had so many bad experiences such as Dad putting Church in front of Family. I was so tired of being a PK i wanted to kill myself. I fell is this great depression. But one day this couple came to our church and changed the whole thing. Little by little people would leave the church and they would stay put. They ended up taking over the Worship team and finnally i was given the opportunity to play. They showed me so much love and they saw that i had so much potential and they also helped me grow spiritually. I cant stop thanking God for putting them in my life. They made being a PK a huge blessing.

      • Jerry Walker says on

        “To the person saying those comments are vindictive: he was a teenage boy. I think he deserves much more grace and compassion, and much less judgement. Although I am assuming this man is an adult now, it is not okay to be judging the character of a child or teenager. I sincerely hope you can think of a time that someone offered you grace or you wished someone had offered you grace and try to see this situation from Jerry’s perspective. Also I hope that you do not take this post as a judgement against you, but more of a loving confrontation. God knows I need loving confrontations from others so things can be revealed to me that I otherwise would not have seen.”

        Thank you! I am the “Jerry” you replied to. I posted my unedited comments because I want people to see what PK life is like. I held nothing back, disguised nothing. Actually, I was surprised at the comment that elicited your response about me. This person showed that he has a “rainbows & moonbeams” view of the world and no grasp of the trauma these kids go thru. One would just about have to go THRU that life in order to understand what it looks like “inside the glass house”. I HATED it then, I hate it now, for it did things to me that stunted my physical growth. hindered my social growth, and delayed my maturity. At age 18, I was shy, socially inept, lacked the wisdom that even mid-teen boys would normally have. It made me introverted, quiet, withdrawn, and fearful of other people. Even mistrustful, oddly enough, of what we consider “Christian” people. That was because of the structure of our denomination where there were local “power cliques” within that “ran things”. It was one of those groups (and usually IS!) that ran us off in 1962. From that day forth, anytime I hear the term “board of deacons”, it usually means that that church has one of those power cliques in it, and pastors better watch out. It was that event that changed this (then) 14 y/o boy into a bitter, angry kid—for a LONG time. I would have knocked some of those so-called “deacons” into outer space if I had encountered them for 20 years after! 🙂

        The key issue here is not the preachers who bear the brunt of cruel, self-righteous power cliques, but the kids who most often have nothing to do with any issues that are within the church itself; they are innocent. But you better believe that 1) they are subject to the “glass house” syndrome and a standard that is almost too high for an ordinary kid to reach, 2) if anything goes wrong in the church, THEY get blamed, along with the poor wife and pastor, just as much. And very little is said about the damage done TO these kids by the churches their parents serve.
        So the poster who made the comments about us PK’s being “vindictive” surely has no clue as to what he is talking about: he is coming right out of the same mold, the same pious, goody-two-shoes fluff as those control freaks!

        Some of us do recover (partially). Some never do! I didn’t. OH…………..I got over it. But I’ll never forget that “glass house”. I go to church regularly. I play the organ there (ah..I’ve been known to knock out a jazz tune or two when feelin’ frisky 😉 ) Not IN church, tho!

        Thanks for YOUR comments to ME.

    • Lemuel Billingsley says on

      I hold your parents in high regard based on your comments. I commend you for the insight you have for your family now. Indeed, your first disciples are your children. I have shepherded God’s people for some twenty-five years. I lost one of my sons to the street because I did not spend the quality time with him that he needed from me. I have a daughter who recently made her return to the Lord and another daughter in which she and her husband are very active in the house of God doing ministry. I am grateful for what God has done, but i live the life of the worst kind. I live in regret for not being more attentive to my children. Ministry came first and even before my devotion with God. Today, it is different my wife and I spend time in prayer for our children daily. I say to you love your children and disciple them w/ your heart.

      blessing and peace be to you, your family and your ministry

    • I was a PK and I absolutely HATED it. I saw, perhaps, the best of people, and the worst of them. I learned that someone that wore their Christianity on their sleeve, went way overboard, cried at church over losts souls…..these were the ones you better watch because these were the ones that would turn on the pastor and family in a heartbeat. At one town, we lasted all of 6 months before these high-praying, lip-trembling “christians” struck like snakes. Turns out Dad preached a sermon on infidelity one Sunday & unbeknownst to him, much less me and Mom, and the fangs came out. Seems one of the deacons was running around with the wife of a traveling sales rep in the same church. If I learned anything at the age of 14, I would NEVER, NEVER allow church people to control me OR my income. Filled with utter fury, for many years I brooded over returning to that little mountain town and kicking some you-know-what. Mom had ideas of me becoming some minister of music when I grew up, and there was no way that was going to happen. I learned to fly airplanes, and as a young adult. my “church” was the local airport. My career became Southern Railway/Norfolk Southern RR. and it took YEARS to get me back in a church at all.
      And even then, it was with cautious mistrust of those people who had hurt me and affected my life so negatively. Being a PK had more bad effects than good. I stayed out of trouble, made a decent living. To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t wish the life of a PK on a mongrel dog. I went to 10 different schools, lived in 3 states, traveled most all the southern states from coast to coast by the age of 11. And with gritted teeth, and an understanding Dad, I was out on my own by age 17, sick to death of it. I determined to settle somewhere and I’d be durned (substitute whatever you like) if I’d ever be moved again ANYWHERE! Its been 49 years in the same town. I still remember the hurts, the ill effects, the lack of real friendships, a stunted childhood. Despite meeting some famous people, and even being on first name basis with a couple, I’d given anything to have had a normal childhood free of the “glass house” syndrome. I can’t say anything positive about being a PK. I absolutely HATED it! Sorry, but that’s the way it is.

    • Amazing Feedback. Thank you.

    • Samantha S. says on

      Myself, being a “PK” or better yet a “preachers daughter” struggle to find words to describe this. Im stuck, still being a young teen, past the age of 16, between what I can and cannot be. My father doesn’t allow me to “experiment ” in life and make my own mistakes, instead I am held captive in a world where church walls engulf me, Christians who judge and criticize me and a “family” who believes prayer solves everything. The great thing about being a “PK” is that no matter what prayer solves everything, that sprained ankle, the broken chair, the little “boo-boo” on ones arm, or the dying man. Now don’t get me wrong, for some people, I’m glad that if they are doing something bad and destructive to not just them but others find something that helps them get out of that like “God” or “Jesus.” But when it’s forced upon you to believe this, to follow that and to be this. You can’t have a life, you can’t have “those friends.” It’s even better that when a “new friend” comes to visit or your/my parents meet them they go through the list of “are you a Wiccan, are you a satanist, are you in a cult, what is your belief, do you always dress like that, what’s your language preference,” do this do that. A majority of us can’t just live a normal life, no. We have to have this forced upon us, not be able to experience the fun parts of life, live like a child while we still can for the few years we are one, act foolish and silly to stupid music. But why would any of us want to do that when we can sit on a wooden pew three or four times a week in long skirts that show nothing, dresses that look like a blanket of fabric, no dress pants or anything, no high heels but modest foot wear, hair has to be neat and not ugly, make up has to be more natural and not make you look “sluttish”. Sometimes I just want to live a life, and not have to go through a check list of different things, each one given by another hand with twenty different things that’ll offend them and the belief if you don’t follow them. So the next time someone writes a book about us “PK’s” they really need to consider asking minister/pastors of the family, the wife/husband, then the child and their friends. You’ll get different opinions. But that’s only if they’re all honest and tell you the only time they leave home is for school or another emergency/call from someone from the church. Or if their honest and tell you everything without worrying if they’re about to be judged, questioned, or sometimes even feel like being threatened (as by being shunned from/kicked out/ or a disgrace) to the church. Just next time think about is, and our “happy and good lives.”

      • Jerry Walker says on

        Hi. I’m much older than you, but I can absolutely relate to your situation. I am the “February 16” poster above. I went thru the same thing from 1949-1966 when I finally was liberated from the “glass house”. Being a PK is painful…like not really having parents. OH, they loved me, but it seemed to me that if I asked Dad to do something with me, he was “too busy” right now, but as soon as the phone rang from a church member–ZIP! He was out the door. Often I was on my own, had to invent games, or make toys to pass the time. Then there was that “walking on eggshells” thing–the “glass house” stuff. I was always hearing, (singsong voice)”You’re the preacher’s kid, YOU ain’t s’posed to do that”! Say WHAT? It seemed to be OK if Mr. Pa’wks’ son did whatever, but if *I* did the very same thing, it was “YOU”RE the preacher’s kid, blah, blah, blah.”

        Then (see above post) there was the politics! Shocking as it may seem, it is very much a part of church life. IF you haven’t become aware of it already, don’t worry; you will! It’s usually the “most dedicated ‘christian’ in the church. He (and his friends) “runs things”. He appears to be devout, pious, and humble, but you let the preacher say the least thing he doesn’t like. HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! The fangs come out, and the snake strikes. You’re back on the road to another place, another school, another church with the same old “power clique”—-“Y’all be careful………don’t offend ‘Mis-tuh Smiff’! So much for submission to Christ, eh? So much for the church being a light unto the community.

        So I admit I wasn’t a willing participant in the PK thing. I didn’t like it at all. You described the same things I went thru way back when-and I’m almost 70 years old. The lack of self-autonomy, inhibition of ambition, self-development-all sacrificed on the altar of the *********(insert denomination) Church. And for a long time, after we were literally run out of town on a rail (minus tar and feathers), when I was finally free of the “glass house” AND the “church” (different from Christ’s vision) that served a few narrow power cliquers), I refused, for a long time, to even go to church. This, the result of those hypocrites and “Pharisees-on-the-steps” who did great damage to my parents, who were trying to answer Christ’s call, and to ME who was, after all, a totally innocent and unwilling participant in all the church stuff. I never forgot the threats made against my father to “physically remove him from the pulpit by certain members of the “board” of deacons who thought they had enough glutenous maxima to try it! And for a time, I even brooded about showing up back in that town and whuppin’ the you-know-what out of a couple of those deacons who dripped with hypocritical piety on Sunday morning, and threatened the preacher on Monday. EEEEEEEEW! I wanted so BAD for them to threaten ME as an adult, for by the late ’60s I was a 230 lb man with a bad attitude and huge fists.

        We normally frown on ‘backsliders’, and I surely WAS by 1968. But, IMHO, my break with the church was a ‘good’ thing because it gave me a chance to experience those very things I was deprived of as a “good little PK”. I could now decide and sort out what was good, what was bad, what was actually right, what was wrong. IOW, to LIVE LIFE! And to LEARN how to exist in the real world, not in the fairytale, goody-two shoes world of what church pretenders wanted it to be! After all, I had been “shielded” from life by my well-meaning parents, so I was pretty naive by age 18, the age I ‘escaped” the glass house!

        ……………………………………….And, this “break” gave me something to come back to! Not to the “church”, but to the LORD! In spite of the difficulties I and all PK’s experience, it is after all, HE that is the source of strength and courage. Yes! I attend a great little church with, believe it or not, few of the politics I knew as a child. I play the organ there on Sunday, but I am also known to “slip” and play a few rock tunes, or Frank Sinatra while no one’s lookin’!

        I’ve forgiven, but not forgotten the PK life I led. It was rough. I hope for you that Our Lord will comfort and strengthen you as you live in that “glass house”! Its not easy.

        Best Wishes,’
        An old PK 😉

      • Samantha. God created man, man created religion. Hang on. You will have your oun life one day. I found and find God outside of church. I pray in nature and find a God speaks in my quietness. You don’t have to follow church “rules” God gave you basic rules in the Bible all other “rules” are man made. At first when I started going to college and I was away from my parents I struggled to know what was right and wrong because many things were so condemned such as wearing earrings, or wearing a dress at my knees, even cutting my hair. All these things Shame to my heart because I wanted them. These thinks we’re not wrong, they were only taught they were wrong. You have to figure out what is really about worshiping God and what is about following the church telling you what you canning can’t do to be a Christian. Being a Christian is in your heart not found in religion. I wish you the best

    • Christine says on

      I’m a current PK & have been living under everyone’s eyes since I was 12. I’m now 21 and my spirit is weary. My heart aches. I was forced to grow up very quickly due to my every action being scrutinized by church members. My dad–our pastor–is never home and when he is, he is on the phone with a church member. This includes when our family is on vacation. Sometimes I go 3 days without seeing him because he comes home late and I leave early for classes. My actions and the actions of my family are constantly criticized. I am expected to serve in the church but because I do, I face more criticism. I feel hopeless and so broken inside. I can’t speak to anyone about this because I’ve lost trust in any of the members in my church “family”. I’m ready to turn away and never look back.

      • Christine, I keep coming back to your post. I am now 35 with a family of my own and finally finding freedom. I totally understand what you are saying. One thing I have learned is this: living in self (I’m going to help this person bc they can do this for me) vs living in the law (I’m going to help this person bc I’m expected to) vs living in the spirit (I’m going to help this person bc it’s what God is telling me to do. Once I finally said enough of this and started focusing on what God was telling me, I started to trust Him to take take care of all the rest. Your parents love you and want the best for you but they are still human. They don’t see the future or the bigger picture. Nor do the people of the church. Your obedience to Christ is your responsibility. The struggle is real and it’s hard. Google faces of Christ. That’s where I started my journey for healing and identity. You can also look into a local celebrate recovery. It’s not just for addicts. There are two of us pks in the one I attend. But it really comes down to you and God. He will not set you up for failure.

      • Jerry Walker says on

        You have one thing going for you, Christine. You ARE an adult. I’d finish my education and get outta there. I’d start your life fresh, particularly somewhere else. All of us PK’s, young and old, can relate to your plight. I’m sure you read my posts here, and as a young man I was a very bitter, trapped child, in a bear trap I could not escape. It gave me many problems. I have forgiven, but not forgotten, that “life”, the “glass house”, the feeling of being an animal in a cage, the lost chances to experience a better life as a grown man I could have had without that trap. I left home for good at age 17, not so much left, but my parents moved to another field right in the middle of my senior year of high school. 🙁 Dad helped me remain behind by paying for a room, and I worked at the school office after school and at a truck body shop weekends. Then, having picked out a home (an area in which we had lived while Daddy was NOT a pastor), I packed up and moved 300 miles back to where I live now, never to roam again. I never returned “home” to live ever again. Belatedly, I began to build a life–about 5 years behind where I should have been growing up–filling up the gaps that had occurred in the PK days.

        You will get lots of advice. Mine is simply to get away from that PK life and build one of your own as soon as your education is finished! RUN! Get OUT! GO! 🙂 Go far enough to get out from the influence of the current church clique. Go where they don’t know you as a PK. Continue to serve God, just do it in another place. I wish you the best of luck. I feel the pain of ever PK that posts here, and decry the detractors who criticize us. God Bless!

    • Roberto Raffan says on

      Growing up as a PK or more accurately a MK (missionary kid) in the Methodist church,or United church was, and still is the worse experince of my life, its like the plague or cancer, the negativity never leaves me alone,the bad over shadows the little bits of good so much that one can’t move ahead in life. The church administration treats MK/PK like property we have no say in our lives,no choice of direction, o choice of what we want to do, and if you step out of line, or have a mind of your own,or speak up, it is vewed and taken as a offence,how dare you challenge our authority,ooohh boy here comes the punishment ; have you ever been beaten with a apple tree branch? it leaves these long welts about 1/4 inch wide that burn “like hell”, how about a belt,or a hard plastic sandle, all in the name of the ministry,all in the name of God. We were treated like powns in a chess game, being moved around from church to church, from place to place, having no say in it , and worse of all being forced to leave behind the friends,relationships,activities,life and things I loved and worked hard for, A distric superintendent old me once that I just had to take it, this is after having been moved around 8 times by the time I was a teenager, 8 times I was forced to abandon my life, leave it all behind and start all over again from zero. So what does this do to a person, it leaves with no long term relationships,no roots anywhere,poor social skills,allways being the new guy,the outsider trying to get in, trying to be accepted, struggling and begging to have the right to have a life, theres no support for anything outside the church, I’m supprised we got to go to school, but it seems going to school got us out of the way so my parents could do the church work, we had 13 congregations,all our parents see is the work of the church,Gods work, and we are nothing compared to God and the church, theres so much more to this story, and the angry pile of shit our family has become,I would like to find or know if there is a support group for Missionary kids,and PK’s that are having difficulties in life? Thanks sincerelly. Roberto Raffan

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