Our cultural narrative says the pastor’s kids are the worst — sneaky, rebellious, and a bad influence on the rest of the youth.
I’ve heard most stereotypes germinate from a seed of truth. But in my life, I’ve met more PKs who blow up that stereotype than ones who fit it.
We at The Unstuck Group had a team gathering a few years ago, and someone asked the question, “Who here is a pastor’s kid?” A surprising proportion of us raised our hands. Here’s a group of people who spend our time and energy helping the church get unstuck — and many of us grew up with an unfiltered view of life in the ministry.
We are pastors’ kids, and we still love the Church.
It’s true, when your father is a pastor, you get a different set of challenges than most of your friends. But there are also blessings so deep it can be hard to convey to non-PKs.
For Father’s Day, we asked some of our team members to share memories of growing up PK — some good and some not so good. We hope they will make you laugh (though some may make you teary) and encourage you in your calling as a father and a pastor.
In the Spotlight — My dad once grabbed me while he was preaching and dragged me to the other end of the row (away from the friends I was talking to during church) without missing a beat in his sermon.
First Chances — He gave me my first opportunity as a Student Pastor at the age of 20, and 23 years later, I’m still serving in the church.
Counting the Cost — I have a vivid memory from when my dad pastored a small country church. My brother, sister and I sat in the backseat of the old station wagon on the way home from church on Sundays. A deacon would hand my dad an envelope at the end of each service; the envelope contained his pay. It was never the same… sometimes it was decent; other times it wasn’t.
The three of us in the back seat would always fight over who got to count the money. The final count determined if we were able to go out to lunch that day… we usually went home.
Pastor Appreciation — For some reason, the churches always thought I should also get a “love offering” check, even when I first had a full-time job! To this day, I don’t know why, but I never complained!
Revival as a Noun — Five nights of the same evangelist, with the same sermons, and the same altar calls. And skipping a service was never an option!
In Hindsight — I don’t think I ever understood the weight my dad carried when I was a kid. It’s funny how much you realize when you look back years later and connect the dots to things that were happening.
Real Impact — I loved watching dad impact lives on a daily basis. I remember him giving someone a ride to church for nearly 11 years.
PK Perks — I remember playing cars on the huge dirt piles during the construction of a new building.
Super Bowl Sadness — I missed almost every Super Bowl for Sunday night services. Except Super Bowl XX — I’ll never forget that the Bears were playing the Patriots and it snowed, which meant church was canceled and I could watch the game.
PK Perks — I didn’t realize I grew up in the Cleaver family, with meals every night as a family. The older I get, I realize what a rare blessing it was to be brought up in a Christ-loving, healthy home.
I also had an unlimited supply of Christian tracts at my fingertips.
Guinea Pig — I was the guinea pig for my dad’s counseling tools. One in particular — he used a nasty, stained-on-the-inside coffee cup as a prayer tool to represent “sin” on the inside of the cup… “Confess your sin, Mark, turn the cup over…” As a young child, I was more interested in, “How did this coffee cup get so gnarly on the inside?”
Family Vacation — All our family vacations were driving to other pastors’ homes across the US (instead of staying in a hotel) on our way to a Colorado or California road trip.
“Sword Drills” — As a PK, my confidence to dominate these contests was sky high.
PK Perks — I got to see my dad be the same kind of man at home that he was on stage.
And, there was a constant rotation of homemade cakes coming into our house from church members.
Surprise, Surprise — You may hear your name pop up as a sermon illustration on any given Sunday.
Everyone Knew Me — Both a pro and a con: When you’re the PK, the whole church thinks they know you. This made my first experience attending a church where my dad was not pastor feel lonely at first.
Setting the Example — I remember when I was 8 years old my dad was challenging the whole church to memorize Scripture. He had offered to pay me $10 to memorize the first chapter of James. When I did it, he had me recite it in front of the whole church. He tagged my recitation with, “And she’s only 8.”
Dad Had My Back — When my dad took his first job as senior pastor, he told the hiring committee in his interview that his wife and kids were off limits. If they hired him, and anyone ever picked on, messed with or otherwise harassed his family, they would see a side of him they never wanted to know existed. I know this because he shared the story from the pulpit regularly throughout the 12 years he led there. No one ever messed with us.
Happy Father’s Day! From a bunch of PK’s, we appreciate how you lead your families and your churches.
Photo Credit: Danielle MacInnes via Unsplash CC0