Being a pastor’s kid is no harder than being anyone else’s kid. It’s just different. For too long we’ve used the image of a fishbowl as though that’s a bad thing. I am a pastor’s kid, I am married to a pastor’s kid, reared four pastor’s kids, my oldest son is married to a pastor’s kid, another of my boys is engaged to a pastor’s kid, and three of our four boys have expressed a call to Christian ministry, increasing the possibility of future pastor’s kids in our family. We like pastor’s kids in our home!
All of my life I’ve heard stories about what it’s like to be a pastor’s kid. Curiously, many of those stories are told by those who are not pastor’s kids. I’m certainly not denying that PK’s receive more attention than other children in the church, and I’m sure it’s true that some people in the church hold unrealistic expectations of pastor’s kids. On top of that, we have all read stories of high-profile PK’s who bemoaned the burdens of being a PK.
On the other hand, being a PK brings opportunities kids of non-pastors do not enjoy. Truthfully, many of those who have lamented the life of a PK do so from the spotlight afforded them by being a PK.
There are three relevant audiences related to the discussion of pastor’s kids: those who are not parents of pastor’s kids, those who are parents of pastor’s kids, and those who are pastor’s kids.
In this article, I’d like to offer three encouragements to those who are not the parents of pastor’s kids:
- Respect the fact that your pastor has kids. Don’t overload his schedule with evening meetings every night of the week. Don’t expect him to always sacrifice his family time to be available for church business. His family is also his ministry.
- Remember, by definition, pastor’s kids are KIDS. They are not adults. You should not place unrealistic expectations on them. PK’s are not born quoting Scripture and neither are they born adults. Allow the pastor’s kids to be kids, and don’t place burdens on them that you would not want placed on your own children.
- Remember that the pastor’s kids are the PASTOR’S kids. They are not yours. If you’re not the parent of the pastor’s kid, please stop trying to parent the pastor’s kid. He probably doesn’t need your help identifying areas where they could mature, and he probably hasn’t asked you to tattle-tale on his children.
If he asks for your help, be there for him. But don’t try to surrogate parent his children. Frankly, if you don’t trust the parenting skills of your pastor, it’s probably more of a reflection on your search committee than it is on the pastor.
Being a PK is a blessing. And if you are blessed to have a pastor with kids, love your pastor by loving his kids. It might mean being patient with them; it might mean being supportive of them; or, it might just mean being quiet—praying for them to a Heavenly Father who knows what it’s like to have children.
Deron Biles serves as dean of extension education, associate dean for the Doctor of Ministry program and associate professor of pastoral theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Follow him on Twitter @deronjbiles.