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Advice from One PK to Another

Some months ago at LifeBridge I shared that my Dad was about to be ordained into ministry. So, in my late 30’s I’m about to become a ‘Pastor’s Kid’ (I added that my mid-life crises was in danger of becoming a belated teenage rebellion!)

Last week I received an email containing advice on the matter that was worthy of posting. While, it’s maybe too late for me, I do have two PK’s in my house that will be navigating their way in the world… & (to all the young PK’s out there) maybe it’s not too late for you:

Being a PK myself for my whole life… I felt like I should impart a bit of PK advice on you.  And I’ve spent the past few months reflecting on what advice I could give you about being a PK… especially given how different your situation is from mine.  I grew up in smaller churches and I was born into a church where my dad was the pastor.  But I figured we can always use advice, no matter how late in the game.  So even though your role of PK came on later than mine, here are some reflections I’ve had about being a PK that might help you in the process:

1.  Your Life is Not Your Own – When you grow up in a church and your father is the pastor… all of a sudden everyone knows who you are and everything you do becomes their business.  People you’ve never seen before suddenly know about both the deeply personal and seemingly nonsensical aspects of your life.

2.  Your Life is Fodder for Sermons – Much of preaching is like storytelling– and many great stories told are a result from personal experiences.  Because you are growing up in a household where the pastor turns out to be your father… you may find that some of your stories and memories end up making the way into sermons.  This goes for both the good and bad stories.  And both will leave you squirming in your seat.

3.  Christmas is the BEST Holiday – Although your father will most likely be preoccupied for the Christmas season… you get some of the coolest gifts that nobody else in the church normally gets.  Your house becomes the mecca of Christmas gifts. And while some (like the coconut cake or the jello fruit mixture?) are a bit scary and frustrating that they come EVERY year, some like the homemade cheese ball and photograph books are pretty neat.

4.  You Share Your Father With Everyone – Sometimes it’s hard because you would like to have your father to yourself, but as a member of the church and as a man whom everyone entrusts to lead them in their most difficult times, you will have to share your father with everyone of the church.  If you dwell on it, it can really make you bitter.  If you want to be insanely optimistic, you can just figure that someone thinks you’re strong enough to handle that.

5.  Don’t Confuse Your Father with THE Father –  Sometimes it can be hard to think of God as a father, especially when your father hasn’t lived up to your expectations.  You’ve got to keep in mind, though, that he’s still human and that if those are your two main father figures… he’s up against some pretty tough competition

6.  Everything Is a Preaching Opportunity – Unfortunately, since your father is always on call as a pastor, he’s always kind of on stage.  This often means that when ANYTHING comes up, he may twist it into a teaching or preaching moment.  This can often happen when you have done something wrong… when you are struggling with something… or when something is wonderful.  Somehow it always leads back to the Bible or something.  When you’re young, that can really tick you off.  As you age, I think you’ll start to gain an appreciation with how someone can devote their entire life to this work and how they can see the world through those eyes.

7.  Contrary to Popular Belief, Your Father is STILL Human – Sometimes it’s easier for people to idealize your father and your family.  Because he is the one on stage preaching the words to follow, and leading the people, it is easy to think that he has all the answers and that he and his family must be perfect.  This is probably one of the most damaging beliefs for a pastor’s family.  It can sometimes lead to a difficult self-image either self-imposed or felt by the church family and society.  It’s important for everyone to keep in mind that you are all humans and NOT close to perfection, just because you are living a life constantly surrounded by following God

8.  People Will Have Their Own Opinions – It’s amazing how easy of a target you become when your life is on stage.  It’s much easier for people to criticize others than it is to look inward.  This often comes out in criticism of your father (especially of his worship choices) or of you and your family.  The beauty is that tons of people are concerned about you.  The downfall is that EVERYONE has an opinion about how things should or should not go.  If you listen to them all, you’ll go mad.  It takes a lot of strength to hear their suggestions and let it roll off your back and trust yourself.

9.  You Will Be Volunteered For More Events Than You Care To Count – By the very nature of being a pastor’s family, you will end up participating in way more events than you ever realized… and chances are you will be roped into helping set up, tear down, and participate in whatever the activity is.  If the event is schedule to take 2 hours, be prepared to devote at least 4…maybe 10.

10.  If You Have a Gift – HIDE IT – People of the church love to support the church kids… they love even more when it’s the pastor’s kids.  If you have any sort of gift (singing ability, acting ability, instrumental ability, speaking ability), HIDE IT FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN.  Once they find out you even have the slightest bit of talent, there’s no turning back.

11.  You Are Privy to Some of the Most Embarrassing Memories…EVER – It is written in his contract to be a pastor that your father will embarrass you.  It’s worse if you’re a developing teen.  The very moments when you pray to God to allow you to be “normal” (whatever that is), you’ll find are some of the prime “pastor” moments for your dad.  And who’s to say a family prayer in Burger King during the middle of a family car ride across the country with 3 fighting kids isn’t a holy moment?  The sooner you can learn to take these things in stride… the better.  Parents are supposed to be embarrassing.  Fathers get an extra boost in that arena.  And you score big time on the embarrassment scale if your dad’s a pastor.

12.  You Have the Potential to Embark on One of the GREATEST Journeys of Your Life – At first you may be resistant to the routine of being a pastor’s family.  The Bible stories may get old… the constant prayers before meals may become tireless… and the constant devotion to this age old book written by dead people back in dinosaur times may seem absolutely absurd.  But as you age, you may find that this consistent routine provides a great backbone to your future… and a rock to lean upon when times are rough and you’re not sure where else to turn.  You have so much wonder at your fingertips… and to have grown in a household that embraces that is a pretty neat thing.

13.  You Wont Go To Hell If You Hang Your Underwear on the Clothesline on a Sunday… or if You Skip Church Once in Awhile – God understands much more than people do.  And people have their own opinions about what you should and should not be doing as the “pastor’s family”, especially on a Sunday.  Allow them to have their opinions.  For whatever reason.. they need them.  You don’t.  Find out how YOU best honor God, and stick to that.

14.  It’s OK to Be YOU – Sometimes when we’re the kids of pastors, we feel like we have to live up to some pretty high standards.  Never stop believing that it’s okay to be you… and that God loves you NO. MATTER. WHAT.

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