Our society affectionately refers to them as “PKs,” or “preacher’s kids,” and if you happen to know one personally, you may have wondered what it was like to grow up in such a unique family dynamic (or maybe you’re simply glad that you didn’t grow up as one). I have wondered the same, and because I wound up marrying one, I would like to share some insight into the life of what it means to grow up with a label: an honorable one but a label nonetheless.
My husband Scott was raised a Pentecostal pastor’s son; his father was almost always assigned to the smallest, poorest churches in their area, which led to some interesting life lessons as he grew. He is the youngest of three children and the only son not to follow in his father’s footsteps into the ministry. The questions below were asked, not just out of curiosity but a genuine knowledge of where he came from and how it has shaped him.
Q: What is your earliest memory of being in church?
A: I honestly can’t remember when I wasn’t in church; I remember hiding under the pews when I was around 3 years old and those kinds of early memories, but I don’t remember ever having a realization that I was in church. I was in church when my mom was pregnant with me and for the first time around 3 days old.
Q: When did your daddy’s message really impact you for the first time?
A: I was around five or six years old, and we went to a mechanic’s shop for something. I remember a man crying and my dad praying with him and leading him to Christ.
Q: Did you ever resent having to be at church all the time?
Q: Did you feel like you missed out on other opportunities because of that?
A: Yes, definitely. There were places we couldn’t go because we always had obligations, things I couldn’t do because my parents didn’t agree with it, etc. and it was very hard to understand sometimes.
Q: Were you ever teased or ostracized by anyone because of your status as a PK?
A: Yes, but mostly when I was younger. Kids would pick on me and occasionally say mean things, but I just learned to ignore it the best way I knew how.
Q: Did you ever feel like you were under a magnifying glass?
A: Some. I knew people were watching, but my parents realized that much more than I did.
Q: Did you ever rebel against what you were taught? If so, how did the church treat you?
A: Yes, I rebelled and got involved in many things I shouldn’t have. I always felt like the church wanted to see an emotional “starting over” experience; otherwise, they weren’t very accepting when I was involved in questionable things. There was always a “you’re dirty and need to get clean” mentality in the church.
Q: Do you feel like hypocrisy is rampant in the church?
A: Yes, and it probably always will be. I can remember people in the church always focusing on other people’s issues (cussing, drugs, wearing tight clothes, etc.)
Q: Did you ever consider following in your father’s footsteps into the ministry? Why or why not?
A: I had always heard that it was a distinct calling from God, and I never felt that. I took it seriously and didn’t think that I would necessarily do the same.
Q: How did your background prepare you for marriage and family?
A: I knew what a Christian marriage looked like because I had always heard the biblical guidelines for the relationship. It was always instilled in me that marriage is for a lifetime and that you work things out no matter what.
Q: When did you decide to make a commitment to God and develop your own faith, rather than simply how you were raised?
A: Making the initial commitment to be saved was as a child, but actually developing my own faith did not come until I was a young adult and had gone my own way.
Q: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a PK?
A: Recognizing the difference between myself and other people helped me learn that God made all the difference. The dysfunction that many considered normal was not normal to me because I saw things from a Christian perspective. I also learned that when times were hard, we leaned on God. In the good times, we thanked Him.
Growing up as a pastor’s child was obviously not easy, and I can imagine that many PKs today face some of the same issues. I would like to think that the church has less of a critical, legalistic mentality than when my husband grew up, but people are people everywhere, and that means imperfection. As our world continues to flounder around searching for a beacon of hope, our job is to do what Jesus did regardless of how we view lifestyles or habits. Respect, dignity, and love are what we owe each and every human being that our heavenly Father took the time to create. We can’t all be PKs, but we can all be GKs (God’s kids)!
Featured Image by Ben White